Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Some stuff on cosmopolitanism and language

I have a huge knee-jerk reaction against the term 'cosmopolitanism.' Probably because of, you know, Cosmopolitan magazine. But I'm trying to understand it.

Drawing on recent work on cosmopolitanism, global citizenship, and critical applied linguistics, this article examines the concept of cosmopolitanism as a viable goal in education in Canada. Particular attention is paid to the inclusion of global citizenship objectives in K-12 language programs in general and in heritage language (HL) curricula in particular. I make a case for consideration of the concept of cosmopolitanism as a key guiding principle at diverse levels of education in formal, non-formal, and informal settings. I argue that in the Canadian context, multilingual education could play a more prominent role in educational agendas as it has the potential to promote cosmopolitan ideals. I conclude that in the framework of official bilingualism and multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism can fruitfully add to discussions about the role of education in the emergence of a Canadian identity.

Translingual Practice: Global Englishes and Cosmopolitan Relations introduces a new way of looking at the use of English within a global context. Challenging traditional approaches in second language acquisition and English language teaching, this book incorporates recent advances in multilingual studies, sociolinguistics, and new literacy studies to articulate a new perspective on this area. Canagarajah argues that multilinguals merge their own languages and values into English, which opens up various negotiation strategies that help them decode other unique varieties of English and construct new norms.

Suresh Canagarajah , "The Possibility of a Community of Difference"  (concluding paragraph)

TO SOME EXTENT, THE ARTICULATION of my position on cosmopolitanism in this article has itself been dialogical. I have drawn from my South Asian, multilingual, and postcolonial backgrounds to engage with the scriptures as an evangelical. As a scholar, I am happy to negotiate with other scholars from different belief systems on common projects of intellectual inquiry or social change. Though I start from my position as a South Asian evangelical, I am open to learning from my engagement with others, critiquing my positions, and moving to more hybridized and richer positions. I want to have the humility to let God speak through the social encounters he has arranged for me. To think that I have nothing more to learn is to be proud. To fear that open engagement with others will damage my faith is to underestimate God‘s power and sovereignty. My faith and social positions do influence my teaching practice. As an instructor of English, I strive to teach students negotiation strategies that will enable them to engage with others of different languages and cultures. I remind Anglo-American students that rather than resting on their status as native speakers, they should treat English as a language commonly owned by diverse people around the world, with whom they have to negotiate on equal terms. I encourage both native and nonnative students to shift their perspectives from correctness to contextual negotiation; from mastery of a single code to developing a repertoire; from individual achievement to social collaboration; from treating their first language or culture as problems to treating them as resources; and from being product-focused to being process-orientated in their negotiation of diverse languages and cultures.

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