Researching Language Learning and Multilingualism: From Social Justice to a Decolonial Lens?

  • Starts: 5:00 pm on Tuesday, April 11, 2023
  • Ends: 6:30 pm on Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Join us for "Researching Language Learning and Multilngualism: From Social Justice to a Decolonial Lens?" a talk with Lourdes Ortega of Georgetown University. This event is part of BU Wheelock's Language Education Speaker Series.

Many multilinguals engage in language learning by force and circumstance, rather than choice, and in contexts that are greatly complicated by deterioration of solidarity for human diversity, widening economic inequalities, and intensified racial and religious conflict. Yet, disaffection for ethics, power, and ideologies has traditionally predominated the field of second language acquisition (SLA), which focuses on language learning by adults—people who learn a new language (formally or informally) during young, middle, or older adulthood, and therefore well outside primary socialization in the family.

Dr. Ortega argues for a social justice lens in SLA as a response to multilinguals’ urgent needs. But is this sufficient? Particularly since the global pandemic crisis, decolonial theories and Southern epistemologies have garnered high visibility in the wider field of applied linguistics. In this talk, she will examine the potential of a decolonial lens to further sharpen social justice orientations towards the study of language learning. She will also reflect on the barriers and possibilities that await SLA scholars who wish to consider social justice and decoloniality as tools to increase the relevance of their research for both elite and marginalized multilinguals.