Translingualism and Second Language Acquisition: Language Ideologies of Gaelic Medium Education Teachers in a Linguistically Liminal Setting




Knipe, John

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Scottish Gaelic, among the nearly 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, is endangered. In the 1980s the Gaelic Medium Education (GME) movement emerged with an emphasis on teaching students all subjects via this ancient tongue with the hope of revitalizing the language. Concomitantly, many linguists have called for problematizing traditional definitions of language. The notion of translingualism, the idea that languages are not discrete, monolithic entities, runs counter to the ideology of languages as specifically representing one culture and one place. As language revitalization programs such as GME have a documented history of asserting traditional language ideologies, teachers are major purveyors of language ideologies, and language ideologies shape language policies, the goal of this qualitative case study was to explore the language ideologies of GME teachers in an urban setting as those ideologies relate to translingualism and to understand the core components of second language acquisition (SLA) that those teachers believe are essential in such a setting. The data sources include semi-structured, focused interviews with five participants. Through open, axial, and selective coding, a number of themes emerged. The findings suggest that language ideologies regarding translingualism are complex; furthermore, some of the components of SLA particular to GME in urban settings include making the language relevant to students and modeling the language outside of the school. Implications for this study for policy makers, practitioners, and researchers are discussed.



Language, Linguistics, Gaelic Medium Education, Language ideologies, Language revitalization, Reversing language shift, Second Language Acquisition, Translingualism