Teaching English in a Multicultural Society: Three Models of Reform

By Colarusso, Dana M. | Canadian Journal of Education, October 2010 | Go to article overview

Teaching English in a Multicultural Society: Three Models of Reform


Colarusso, Dana M., Canadian Journal of Education


Because of the global status of the English language, and the cultural and linguistic qualifies of English literature, English teachers are at the fulcrum of educational debate. As global curriculum expands and re-focuses the challenges and possibilities of multicultural education, teachers, schools, and communities are challenged to reexamine the traditional English curriculum and articulate rationales for change. For this study I interviewed 15 teachers from different schools and school boards in Ontario to explore their views and approaches to these challenges. The participants represented a spectrum of beliefs and practices in response to emerging considerations for teaching English within a prototypically multicultural society such as flourishes in Ontario. Their perspectives and experiences both raised new questions and re-opened fundamental questions posed decades ago within first language learning: What is English? What is the role of a student's identity--including ethnic and linguistic origins? In listening to English teachers describe their current and ongoing efforts to create meaningful learning experiences for students, I identified three approaches: (a) Adaptation/Coping, (b) Collaborative Inquiry/Applied Research, and (c) Activism. English teachers can apply participants' insights and examples to policies and practices for relevancy and effectiveness, and begin to compare and assess new directions for teaching English in a multicultural society and the global age.

Key words: curriculum reform, English language arts, intercultural dialogue, multicultural education, global curriculum

En raison du statut international de l'anglais et des qualites culturelles et linguistiques de la litterature anglaise, les professeurs d'anglais sont au coeur des debats sur l'enseignement. A mesure que le curriculum se mondialise et reoriente les defis et les possibilites d'une education multiculturelle, les enseignants, les ecoles et les communautes sont forcees de reexaminer le curriculum traditionnel en anglais et de formuler des argumentaires en faveur du changement. Pour cette etude, l'auteure a interviewe quinze enseignants de differentes ecoles et commissions scolaires en Ontario en vue de cerner leurs idees et leurs approches quant a ces defis. Les participants representaient un eventail de croyances et de pratiques en reponse aux nouveaux aspects a prendre en consideration dans l'enseignement de l'anglais dans une societe multiculturelle, dont l'Ontario est un exemple eloquent. Leurs points de vue et leurs experiences soulevent de nouvelles questions et rouvrent un debat fondamental, vieux de quelques decennies, sur la nature de l'anglais et le role de l'identite de l'eleve, incluant ses origines ethniques et linguistiques, dans l'apprentissage de la langue maternelle. En ecoutant ces enseignants decrire leurs efforts systematiques en vue de creer des experiences d'apprentissage interessantes pour leurs eleves, l'auteure a identite trois approches : l'adaptation, la recherche concertee ou active et l'activisme. Les professeurs d'anglais peuvent, dans un souci de pertinence et d'efficacite, appliquer les perceptions et les exemples des participants aux politiques et pratiques et commencer a comparer et a evaluer de nouvelles orientations pour l'enseignement de l'anglais dans une societe multiculturelle a l'ere de la mondialisation.

Mots cles : reforme du curriculum, enseignement de l'anglais, dialogue interculturel, education multiculturelle, mondialisation du curriculum

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In the face of changing social realities, some English teachers in Ontario are modelling transformation: (a) revamping course lists, (b) honing dialogic pedagogies for intercultural communication, and (c) redefining "English" as multicultural and global. As global curricula begin to appear alongside multicultural curriculum, all English teachers face the task of reassessing the purposes and priorities of their subject. …

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