Language education policies and sociolinguistic criticism
(Université Libre de Bruxelles)Language
education policies are pivotal in nation-states' negotiation of a
globalizing economy and a diversifying population. But certainly in
urban, non-elite schools, where pupils' linguistic diversity is
pronounced, their fixation on language separation and
multi-monolingualism produces salient sites of linguistic friction.
Much scholarly work has been successfully problematizing this friction,
producing an avalanch of criticism and ample calls for a change in
schools' approach of pupils' polylingual practices.
presentation argues that while such calls are pedagogically exciting
and justified on principle, a significant number of them reproduce some
of the main assumptions behind the policies that they denunciate, or
invite problems of their own. Consequently many calls for change
underestimate the difficulties of policy implementation, exaggerate
their own effects, and overstate their critical character. I suggest
this necessitates a reconsideration of the received relation between
sociolinguistics and language education policy, and requires that calls
for change take a different tack.