- ED 1217
Compassionate Language and Multilingual Classrooms: Language Teaching for Refugees and Implications for L2 Pedagogy
Professor of German, UC Irvine
In Germany today, several hundred thousand recently arrived migrants, mostly refugees, are learning German and seeking to ‘integrate’ into society there. In Berlin alone, German language teaching is taking place on an unprecedented scale and for more diverse groups of learners than ever before. Based on a qualitative study of a few of those teaching and learning settings, I offer a sketch of the ways teachers, both professionals and volunteer laypersons, engage compassionate language and multilingual pedagogies to facilitate language learning as well as shift the priority of ‘integration’ from top-down conceptualizations to validation and what manifests as legitimate peripheral participation. Through interviews and some examples of teaching/learning moments in which teachers adapt conventional language pedagogies to the perceived needs of learners in situated context—using the learners’ own languages as a resource and the dynamics of the group as a vehicle for learning and engaging learners’ multilingual subjectivities—I consider implications and some guidelines for language pedagogy, teacher education, and assessment attuned to the challenges of language teaching in a postmodern, globalized world.