New book explores language and culture in education around the globe

Despite the fact that most countries and indeed their societies are multilingual, their educational systems tend to function in only one or two languages, due in part to the long-standing fallacy that national unity is built around a single language. Against this fallacy we would argue that using one language and excluding many others actually creates divisions, inequalities and inequities, because it means that hundreds of millions of people worldwide are forced to learn—or teach—through a language in which they are not proficient…It is our aim to promote organized, collaborative progress toward incorporating learners’ languages and cultures into education for quality, equity and liberation.

- Dr. Carol Benson and Dr. Kimmo Kosonen, from the introduction to Language Issues in Comparative Education

(June 2013) A new collection of studies addresses the challenges faced by students and teachers whose mother tongue is other than that used in their country’s schools. The goal of Language Issues in Comparative Education: Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Non-Dominant Languages and Cultures is to contribute to more inclusive and relevant education for all. Several of SIL’s senior literacy and education consultants contributed research to the volume, including Kimmo Kosonen, who served as co-editor with Carol Benson of Stockholm University. Leila Schroeder and Stephen L. Walter each authored a chapter.

Studies from twenty-two international education experts cover a variety of situations representing thirteen countries in four world regions:

  • Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam)
  • Africa (Mozambique, Senegal and Tanzania)
  • Latin America (Guatemala and Mexico)
  • North America (Canada and the USA)

The chapters in Language Issues in Comparative Education were expanded from papers presented at the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), held in Montreal in 2011. The theme of that conference, “Education is that which Liberates” is reflected in the book.

Table of Contents

Foreword from Sheldon Shaeffer, Consultant and Former Director UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Bangkok

Introduction by co-editors Carol Benson and Kimmo Kosonen: Inclusive teaching and learning through the use of non-dominant languages and cultures

Part I: Language-in-education policy issues

1. Jessica Ball and Onowa McIvor: Canada’s big chill: Indigenous languages in education

2. Kimmo Kosonen: The use of non-dominant languages in education in Cambodia,Thailand and Vietnam: Two steps forward, one step back

3. Stephen A. Bahry: Language in Afghanistan’s education reform: Does it play a role in peace and reconciliation?

4. Birgit Brock-Utne: Language and liberation. Language of instruction for mathematics and science: A comparison and contrast of practices focusing on Tanzania

Part II: Community and parent voices

5. Laura Menchaca Bishop and Prema Kelley: Indigenous Mexican languages and the politics of language shift in the United States

6. Karla Giuliano Sarr: "We lost our culture with civilization": Community perceptions of Indigenous knowledge and education in Senegal

Part III: Classroom practices and teacher voices

7. Gowri Vijayakumar, Elizabeth Pearce and Meherun Nahar: First language-based preschools in Adivasi communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh

8. Janelle M. Johnson: Teachers as agents of change within Indigenous education programs in Guatemala and Mexico: Examining some outcomes of cross-border professional development

9. Rebecca Stone: Effective activities to support teachers’ transition into the MTBMLE classroom in the Philippines

10. Pauline Rea-Dickins and Guoxing Yu: English medium instruction and examining in Zanzibar: Ambition, pipe dreams and realities

11. Nuzzly Ruiz de Forsberg and Alícia Borges Månsson: Implementation of local curriculum in Mozambican primary schools: Realities and challenges

12. Kerry White: Culture as a vehicle, not a bridge: Community-based education in autonomous regions of Nicaragua and in the Navajo Nation, USA

Part IV: Researcher voices

13. Leila Schroeder: Teaching and assessing independent reading skills in multilingual African countries: Not as simple as ABC

14. Stephen L. Walter: Exploring the development of reading in multilingual education programs

15. Carol Benson: Towards adopting a multilingual habitus in educational development

Language Issues in Comparative Education is number twenty-four in the Sense Publishers series Comparative and International Education: A Diversity of Voices. The first several chapters are available for free download.


Related links: