20 SES 11 A, Young Learners’ Language Acquisition in Multicultural Contexts
Higher education institutes have a crucial role in educating the youth towards agency in our societies. However, teaching profession is not enough; the learner’s need to acquire supportive competences is solid. All the time more diverse, changing and challenging world requires active citizenship, critical thinking and willingness to encounter the other (encountering, see Buber 1961). One of the key competences in our nowadays complex world is multicultural competence which is based on a need of understanding the diversity inside and around us. Social wellbeing recalls justice, tolerance, humanity and partnership. Furthermore, multicultural education enhances the skill to be an active, critical and reflective participant in our societies (i.e. Banks 2009; Nieto & Bode 2008).
Agency itself is the core of multicultural competence and the aim of multicultural education. Building agency is actually capacity building – it is a combination of responsible and active partnership, critical thinking and reflection, multicultural knowledge and skills as well as an ability and willingness of encountering. It is not an easy task to become an agent and it is often a lifelong process. Empowering agency requires openness and creativity. Besides this the willingness to challenge learner’s own thinking, attitudes and perceptions is necessary.
Concurrently with building agency the learner should also consider one’s own identity. As the learner’s role has become more active and much of learning is also capacity building, teaching is seen increasingly as guiding the learner’s learning processes. Learning of this kind also acknowledges the learner’s individual identity as a resource in learning and in life. The concept of identity in itself refers to self-image or self-concept. Identity is not a stable or permanent perception of one’s self-image but changes in time and place and is constructed in social interaction in everyday life.
The basic dimensions, ‘self’ and ‘the other’, are always present in defining and developing ‘self’ by mirroring it with the other. Supporting agency and identity requires understanding of self, otherness, difference and diversity. Who am I, who are you and what is the world around us are important questions for a young learner. Defining self is an on-going dialogue between self, the other and the experiences of the world (Hall & du Gay 1986). Identity supports the self-awareness when the learner feels belonging in some groups and experiences life in a somewhat meaningful way. One aim of multicultural education is to prevent the learner not to shrink into a too narrow world and not to rely on simplifications (Kaikkonen 2012; Kohonen 2009; Taylor 1991).
Thus the learner has many challenges in his/her growth to agency and understanding the complexity of the self and the world. He/she should have a solid motivation to learn, conceptual knowledge and willingness to personal growth. But does the learner have this motivation and facility? How does the learner see the concepts of agency and identity in his/her own life? In my paper I discuss the learner’s perceptions reflected to my empirical data collected in a Finnish university of applied sciences.
Banks, J.A. 2009. Multicultural education. Dimensions and paradigms. In J.A.Banks (Ed.) The Routledge International Companion to Multicultural Education. New York: Routledge. Bruner, J. 1986. Actual minds, possible worlds. Cambridge: Vintage Books. Buber, M. 1961. The writings of Martin Buber / selected, edited, and introduced by W. Herberg. Cleveland: World Publishing Company. Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. 2008. Research methods in education. Sixth edition. New York: Routledge. Hall, S. & du Gay, P. 1986. Questions of cultural identity / edited by Stuart Hall and Paul. London: SAGE. Kaikkonen, P. 2012. Language, culture and identity as key concepts of intercultural learning. In M. Bendtsen, M. Björklund, L. Forsman & K. Sjöholm (toim.) Global Trends Meet Local Needs. Åbo Akademi University, Report from the Faculty of Education No 33, 17-33. Kohonen, V. 2009. Autonomy, Authenticity and Agency in Language Education: the European Language Portfolio as a Pedagogical Resource. In R. Kantelinen and P. Pollari (eds.) Language Education and Lifelong Learning. Joensuu: University of Eastern Finland. Philosophical Faculty. School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education. 9 – 44. Nieto, S. & Bode, P. 2008. Affirming diversity. The sociopolitical context of multicultural education. 5. edition. Boston: Pearson / Allyn & Bacon. Patton, M. Q. 2002. Qualitative research & evaluation methods. 3. edition. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Taylor, C. 1991. The ethics of authenticity. Cambridge (Mass.): Harvard University Press, cop. 1991 Timonen, L. 2011. Internationalise or step aside? A case study of meaning making in international competence and intercultural learning in the spaces of encounter… Publications of the University of Eastern Finland. Disseratations in Education, Humanities, and Theology No 16.
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.