Review: Applied Linguistics: Abello-Contesse et al. (2013)

EDITOR: Christián  Abello-Contesse
EDITOR: Paul M Chandler
EDITOR: María Dolores  López-Jiménez
EDITOR: Rubrén  Chacón-Beltrán
TITLE: Bilingual and Multilingual Education in the 21st Century
SUBTITLE: Building on Experience
SERIES TITLE: Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
PUBLISHER: Multilingual Matters
YEAR: 2013

REVIEWER: Olivia L Amzallag, University at Albany, State University of New York

SUMMARY

This collection of essays, edited by Christian Abello-Contesse, Paul M.
Chandler, María Dolores López-Jiménez, and Rubén Chacón-Beltrán, is a
comprehensive overview of bilingual education (henceforth BE) addressing
current issues and research on a variety of related contexts.  As a
collective, the essays provide some historical background of BE
internationally; however, they focus on the most recent work in the field. The
fourteen contributions are divided into four parts, all under the thematic
umbrella of personal experiences in BE, as the subtitle of the collection
‘Building on Experience’ suggests.  Part 1, ‘Lessons from Accumulated
Experience in Bilingual and Multicultural Education’, provides background
information on BE through research-based insights into the field.  Part 2,
‘Issues in Language Use in Classrooms’, explores current issues facing
language education from a classroom perspective, and Part 3, ‘Participant
Perspectives on Bilingual Education Experiences’, provides additional
perspective from various classroom participants such as instructors and
teaching assistants.  Finally, Part 4, ‘The Language Needs of Bilingual and
Multilingual Students’, examines two specific non-traditional student groups
in BE programs.

The Introduction and Overview section provides information on the collection
as a whole.   Originally  a culmination of two components, chapters are
divided between contributing scholars from various European, North American,
and Latin American universities, and a collection of papers whose authors are
related by professional affiliation as a select group of applied linguists
based at the University of Seville in Spain in 1995.  This section also
provides a brief description of each essay, and a short summary of the
relationship between the four parts of this volume: Part One, setting BE in
its current context; Part Two, centering on controversial issues in BE; Part
Three, exploring aspects of human resources as related to BE; and Part Four,
dealing with non-monolingual students in monolingual educational models.

Part 1, ‘Lessons from Accumulated Experience in Bilingual and Multicultural
Education’, provides a historical context for current issues facing BE.  In
‘Bilingual and Multilingual Education: An Overview of the Field’ (Chapter 1),
Christian Abello-Contesse situates BE as a broad term that encompasses many
linguistic and pedagogical phenomena, resulting in a deeper understanding of
the nuances in BE.  The author describes four specific instances of BE
implemented internationally to: a) maintain a minority language; b) learn how
to use a majority language; c) learn to read and write in a majority language;
and d) learn an international or prestigious non-native language.  The author
also explores the essential principles of content-based instruction
(henceforth CBI): a dual focus on content and language instruction,
cognitively demanding content, thoughtfully sequenced language components, the
second language (L2) as the principle language for in-class communication,
simultaneous improvement of two disciplines, and the applicability of the
content model to a wide range of topics.  The author then raises the following
six concerns with the current state of BE: the degree of CBI implementation,
the manner of CBI integration, skills encouraged through BE, classroom
language distribution, level of instructors’ L2 proficiency, and culture in
BE. In ‘Insights into Bilingual Education From Research on Immersion Programs
in Canada’ (Chapter 2), Fred Genesee contributes a historical perspective of
BE through a discussion of Canadian immersion programs dating back to 1965. He
briefly describes the various models of immersion education (i.e., early
immersion alternatives/ early total immersion, early double immersion, delayed
immersion and late immersion) and looks at empirical evidence to evaluate
their effectiveness.  He then turns his attention to general research
conducted on immersion programs, considering the effectiveness of
content-based language instruction in several contexts. In ‘Bilingual
Education in Colombia: The Teaching and Learning of Languages and Academic
Content Area Knowledge’ (Chapter 3), Anne-Marie de Mejía discusses content and
language integrated learning (henceforth CLIL) in Latin America.  She
describes the various types of bilingual schools in Colombia: international
bilingual schools, national bilingual schools, and schools with an intensified
English foreign language program.  She examines a monolingual bias in favor of
the foreign language and demonstrates a need for more accessible bilingual
school initiatives, as the majority of successful foreign language initiatives
in Colombia are currently found in exclusive private institutions.  In
‘Perspectives and Lessons from the Challenge of CLIL Experiences’ (Chapter 4),
Carmen Pérez-Vidal provides a comprehensive overview of CLIL in Europe,
including a discussion of the linguistic policies leading to CLIL initiatives,
and their various successes, with an emphasis on the Spanish language.  She
argues that CLIL alone is insufficient for effective language acquisition,
utilizing the Barcelona Study Abroad and Language Acquisition (SALA) project’s
data, contrasting CLIL, study abroad experiences, and formal instruction to
support her argument.

Part 2, ‘Issues in Language Use in Classrooms’, explores current issues facing
language education from a classroom perspective.   In ‘From Bilingualism to
Multilingualism: Basque, Spanish and English in Higher Education’ (Chapter 5),
Jason Cenoz and Xabier Etxague discuss BE in university instruction, noting
how English is increasingly becoming an instructional language in certain
parts of Europe.  They also explore minority languages, with a focus on
several specific BE initiatives in university programs in the Basque language,
and provide a discussion of the challenges facing these initiatives. The
authors argue in favor of multilingual education, and support its
effectiveness through these examples.  In ‘100 Bilingual Lessons: Distributing
Two Languages in Classrooms’ (Chapter 6) Gwyn Lewis, Bryn Jones, and Colin
Baker describe the various models of language division in bilingual schools,
as collected from 100 lessons observed in the following types of elementary
and secondary Welsh schools: monolingual use of one language (L1 Welsh),
monolingual use of one language (L2 Welsh), monolingual use of one language in
mixed L1/L2 classrooms, translanguaging, translation (whole class),
translation of subject-related terminology, translation for L2 learners,
combinations of concurrent two-language use, and teacher responses to
student’s language.  The authors raise several issues related to multiple
language use in classrooms by exploring translanguaging and translation.  In
‘Native Language Influence in Teaching Subject-matter Content Through English
in Spanish Tertiary Education’ (Chapter 7), Elena Domìnguez Romero and Jorge
Braga Riera focus on English as an emerging instructional language in Spanish
universities, concentrating on issues related to a lack of instructor training
and English language proficiency.  The authors explore the instructors’
linguistic influence on the classroom and on the students, finding evidence of
non-target-like linguistic features. In ‘From Diglossia to Transglossia:
Bilingual and Multilingual Classrooms in the 21 Century’ (Chapter 8) Ofelia
Garcìa explores the multilingual classroom, with a focus on New York State.
She notes the presence of translanguaging in seemingly diglossic classroom
models (a two-way bilingual kindergarten, an English-only third/fourth grade,
a fifth grade two-way bilingual classroom, high schools for emergent
bilinguals), pointing out that functional distribution models of language in
the classroom are contrary to the reality of fluid language use in practice.

Part 3, ‘Participant Perspectives on Bilingual Education Experiences’, focuses
on the human component of BE.  In ‘The Students’ Views on their Experience in
a Spanish-English Bilingual Education Program in Spain’ (Chapter 9), Marìa
Dolores Pérez Murillo documents a 3-year attitudinal survey project with 382
students attending bilingual schools in Spain.  Achieving her goal to gain
insight into students’ outlook on their BE, she reports predominantly positive
student attitudes. In ‘The Use of Native Assistants as Language-and-Cultural
Resources in Andalusia’s Bilingual Schools’ (Chapter 10), Nicole Tobin and
Christian Abello-Contesse give an overview of BE and CLIL programs in Spain at
the elementary and secondary levels, which is followed by a discussion of the
Multilingualism Promotion Program, where native speaking teaching assistants
serve as cultural and linguistic representatives in the classroom. This
program is implemented to develop students’ intercultural competence.  The
authors explore a case study involving participants in the program with a
focus on how the assistant was used in the classroom, with results supporting
frequent inefficient use of the teaching assistant’s time.  In,
‘Student-teachers and Teacher-educators Experience New Roles in Pre-service
Bilingual Teacher Education in Brazil’ (Chapter 11), Fernanda Liberali notes a
lack of effective bilingual teacher training in Brazil, and discusses the
Multicultural Education Project, a socio-cultural project geared at
pre-service bilingual teachers, requiring them to reflect on their teaching
practice in a directed peer group.  Activities were designed to transform
participants’ perceptions by creating new realities, moving them towards a
more central participatory role. The author reports on the findings from this
case study and discusses a variety of the program’s issues and strengths.  In
‘Potential Drawbacks and Actual Benefits of CLIL Initiatives in Public
Secondary Schools.’ (Chapter 12), Miguel Garcìa López and Anthony Bruton
contrast two perspectives of CLIL, providing a comprehensive overview of the
issues as supported through research, along with a discussion of the actual
observed practices of CLIL initiatives in schools. Although discrepancies in
CLIL models were voiced, the results indicate overall successes in achieving
bilingualism when programs are adopted voluntarily.

Part 4, ‘The Language Needs of Bilingual and Multilingual Students’, examines
two specific non-traditional students in BE programs.  In ‘International
School Students: Developing their Bilingual Potential’ (Chapter 13), Maurice
Carder focuses on International Schools where English is the predominant
instructional language, drawing attention to the limited opportunity for the
study of mother tongue languages.  He cites examples to support the importance
of maintaining mother tongue proficiency.  In ‘Heritage Spanish Speakers in
School Settings: Are their Needs Being Met?’ (Chapter 14), Jaime Espinoza
Moore and Emilia Alonso Marks explore the subject of heritage speakers of
Spanish in language classes designed for monolingual learners by surveying
Spanish teachers in an Ohio school district.  Results of this survey indicate
the need for awareness and training to meet heritage speaker needs.

EVALUATION

This collection contains observer opinions and insights into BE, thus
demonstrating diverse viewpoints, attitudes, practices, and issues.  Although
many languages appear in discussions throughout the volume, the essays are
largely focused on English as a foreign language, readily accepting it as the
lingua franca.  Several perspectives are presented, with some conflicting
viewpoints across essays.  Topics cover a wide range of subjects in diverse
settings, with a focus on the bilingual classroom, and progressing from wider
to narrower concepts.

Engaging with this collection necessitates some familiarity with the subject
of education or language acquisition, as the historical background provided is
insufficient to contextualize all of the topics covered.  Rather, due to the
chosen format and style, this volume provides a current perspective of BE, and
appears not to be intended as a holistic view of the field, since the focus is
on specific instances of BE in a few select countries.  Although organized
into four parts, the volume’s thematic cohesion is fragile due to the vast
range of topics and large quantity of essays.  Conversely, across these four
parts of the collection, CIL and CLIL emerge as reoccurring themes.  With
frequent discussion of these topics, and with an occasional overlap in
information, the collection contributes a healthy understanding of content
learning.  This frequency also provides a deeper understanding of the
importance of the topic to the field of BE across national educational models.
By engaging with the sheer variety of perspectives and initiatives in BE
contained in this volume, this contribution delivers a wealth of information
and provides the reader with a thorough grasp of BE and the options available
to professional educators.

Though this collection addresses an international audience, the essays focus
predominantly on Europe and South America, with fewer North American
contributors. Nevertheless, it is an exceptional resource for those seeking
research topics in BE, and raises several questions at the forefront of the
field, thus providing concrete topics for discussion. The volume achieved it’s
purpose of drawing on experiences in BE to highlight current issues in BE and
is significant for those seeking to further their understanding of recent
international research, and for those seeking trends in  bilingual and
multilingual pedagogy.  Well-suited as a textbook for language students,
applied linguists and language educators alike, the volume provides valuable
current state of BE.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Olivia Amzallag is an Applied Linguist specializing in foreign language
teaching methods, instruction, and curriculum design. With over a dozen years
of classroom experience, she encourages innovative curriculums with a focus on
community building and student connection to the subject through communicative
teaching methods.  Her current research in French language acquisition studies
the aural comprehension of object pronouns, broadening the understanding of
paucity of exposure to problematic forms, demonstrating the impact of
avoidance during instruction in SLA.

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LINGUIST List: Vol-25-2238
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