TITLE OF THE INITIATIVE
Research program ‘Teaching language through the eyes of refugees’
INSTITUTION RESPONSIBLE FOR THE INITIATIVE
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
WEB SITE OF THE INITIATIVE
There is no Internet website of the program.
- Language and other introductory courses for refugee students
- Newly arrived refugees
- Refugees of second generation
- University staff (academic and administrative)
DESCRIPTION AND METHODOLOGIES
Our program is based on the theoretical framework of translanguaging (TL), the planned and systematic use of two or more languages for teaching and learning within the same lesson (Baker, 2011; Williams, 2003), as we consider TL a dynamic and suitable educational process within the context of refugee education (García & Kleyn, 2016, Tsokalidou, 2017).
The main purpose of our research was to establish an approach to the language development and learning process in the framework of translanguaging, through refugee identity texts, in a continuous dialectic relationship with the researchers and with the objective of inclusion practices. Our research objectives were:
• The democratization of researchers’ discourse through continuous reflection and amendment of practices
• The determination of educational material characteristics suitable for meeting language teaching needs of adult refugees
• The contribution to inclusion of refugees in Greek society, on terms of fair and equal coexistence.
To implement the above we carried out an action research, its spiral dimension leading to interrelated steps, without a strict structured and linear methodology, similar to successive circular courses, which undergoes continuous reformation and replanning in relation to new circumstances (Kemmis & Wilkisson 1998, Katsarou & Tsafos, 2003).
The fluidity of the life conditions of our made us revise the teaching process at regular intervals through reflection and feedback (Freire, 1977) by adapting to the identities and needs of the trainees and designing new linguistic material for the educational needs of adult refugees living in Thessaloniki, Greece. We argue that refugees, like all other groups, need to sustain their own languages and build new linguistic and other knowledge upon their existing funds of knowledge.
RESULTS AND IMPACT
The distinction of the translanguaging model from the official educational policies on language learning emerged some ideological resistance by the students through the course of the study. In several cases, a tendency towards traditional speech, grammar-centered teaching and the clear prioritisation of the standard language became evident. In certain cases, the traditional methods were utilised also by the trainers.
Translanguaging emerged as a dominant practice of the trainees, mainly orally and much less in or not at all in writing. By interpreting the data, we find that the trainees come from language teaching traditions - similar to those of the trainers - where the written language is enveloped by authority, while the spoken language is there to serve written texts, and in fact the final text which is “evaluated” (Gee, 2006).
Translation is a significant translanguaging tool compared to other practices (Creese & Blackledge, 2010; Cummins, 2007; García & Sylvan, 2011) included in our effort, mainly because in several cases there was no other language to serve as a bridge between the language of origin and Greek. Our students refer with positive comments to the presence of the cultural mediator, who became the bridge between the languages, worlds and cultures that came into contact.
In our classes we tried to formulate comparative material on a translanguaging basis, encouraging teachers and students to transcend dominant monolingual teaching traditions. Using material that utilise our students’ voices was a powerful means of challenging traditional grammar-centred approaches to language learning (Tsokalidou, 2017).
Moreover, we adopted the premise that teaching material which is founded on translanguaging should aim at developing a type of literacy with a political and critical content. To this end, a variety of corpora and text types (monomodal, multimodal, multimedia texts as well as songs, movies, posters, etc.) were used which were studied in close connection with the surrounding sociocultural local and global reality. New technologies were also used towards a similar critical direction, with the creation of an e-classroom as an environment of interaction and collaboration. Connection via social media replaced communication outside class and the learning process, contributed towards a greater familiarisation between the group members through authentic communication circumstances.