Introduction: Language, Identity and Educational Policies

By Lamoureux, Sylvie A.; Labrie, Normand | Canadian Journal of Education, October 2010 | Go to article overview

Introduction: Language, Identity and Educational Policies


Lamoureux, Sylvie A., Labrie, Normand, Canadian Journal of Education


In Canada, as is true in several other countries and educational jurisdictions, language and identity are at the forefront of both educational debates and policy development in various governing bodies, such as the classroom, schools, school boards, postsecondary institutions, provincial, territorial and federal ministries, as well as arms-length and nongovernmental agencies (NGOs). Policymaking and implementation decisions occur at micro and macro social levels within each of these contexts.

This double special issue of the Canadian Journal of Education (RCE/ CJE 33[2] and [3]) presents findings of original research in Canada since 2000 on language, identity, and educational policy from a variety of theoretical perspectives, including sociolinguistics, psychology, higher education, sociology of education, policy studies, second language education. We aim to interest a wide readership of researchers, educators, and policy makers, in the hope that the studies presented will encourage and foster a trans-disciplinary dialogue.

The response to our call for papers exceeded our expectations, with manuscripts submitted from across Canada, and from researchers outside Canada who were interested in Canadian educational policies. We are grateful to all those who submitted manuscripts for consideration, and the confidence they demonstrated in the Canadian Journal of Education, and our special issue on language, identity, and educational policy in Canada. In recognition of the large number of manuscripts received, the CJE editorial board graciously offered to publish the special issue in two volumes, which has allowed us to maintain an acceptance ratio of about 30 per cent. We are grateful to the CJE team, particularly Julia and Deb, although we regret having had to refuse manuscripts that, because of their findings, would have fitted very well in our special issue, but for which we simply had no latitude. We also wish to express our gratitude to the external reviewers who shared their scientific recommendations with us, and provided authors with valuable feedback, enabling us to ensure the integrity of CJE's editorial standards.

When it came time to organise the architecture for the two volumes of this special issue, the circle metaphor could not be ignored. We first saw the circle as a space for completeness, dialogue, consensus building, and wisdom, as shared with us by Canada's Aboriginal cultures. We also saw both sides of a coin, which, in Western culture, reminds of dichotomies and dialogism. Finally, we thought of yin and yang, which in oriental philosophy are representations of opposite yet interdependent forces of the natural order, one engendering the other.

It is in this spirit that the first volume (CJE/RCE 33[2]) presents articles focused on the "teaching" dimension, whereas the second volume (RCE/CJE 33[3]) focuses on the "learning" dimension. This first volume takes a closer look at the mediation that belies language and identity in educational contexts, whereas the second volume highlights learners' representations and practices. We begin the first volume with articles on teaching Aboriginal languages, French as first language in a minority context, then on multilingualism and multiculturalism in teaching. The second volume looks at biliteracy within French first-language in a minority context schools, learning French as a second language in Core French and French immersion settings, as well as immigrant adults learning English as a second language. We then come full circle with a reflection on research practices that respect Aboriginal cultures.

As a whole, these articles, mostly written in English, but with two in French, present an excellent pan-Canadian perspective of the politics, representations, and practices regarding language and identity in teaching and learning during the first decade of the twenty-first century.

This first volume begins with an article by M. …

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