How can language education counter violent extremism? (by Mehdi Babaei)

We are living in a time of tension and fear. The world has been so unpredictable and shaky, with violence flaring up in every corner: the Charlie Hebdo incident in Paris; recent attacks in Nice, France, Belgium and Germany; recent shootings at an Orlando LGBTQ nightclub; and the 2014 shootings at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada. Rather than dignity, liberty, and democracy being embraced, these ideals seem to be in remission. A major share of this insidious violence has been attributed to extremist beliefs and radical ideas. These beliefs and ideas, inspired by various motives, including political, religious, and ideological, breed violence and have led to terrorist acts. Educators who care about humanity, safety, and a free world are looking for solutions to least alleviate this seemingly chaotic global situation (Ghosh, Manuel, Chan, Dilimulati, & Babaei, 2016). Continue reading

Digital Literacy Practices among Immigrant Seniors (by Mehdi Babaei)

I learned how to use technology only after the age of 55. My experience of using technology was limited to texting through my mobile phone. The late time of immigration to Canada made me feel detached from my family and friends in my home country. So I began to learn how to use technology and digital devices to remain in touch with them in an easier and faster way… also, since I felt isolated in the new country, I found Internet as a tool to help me find new friends…”
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Multilingualism, Translation and Identity (by Mehdi Babaei)

In this post, I will address the question Lauren raised in her post last week: what makes you feel bi/multilingual? First, I will explain how I perceive multilingualism, and then I will present my experience with translation as an example of what makes me feel multilingual. While I find Lauren’s question intriguing, I even have some further questions: what does it mean by bilingualism/multilingualism? If multilingualism refers to someone being able to use or speak several languages, then what level of proficiency serves as an indicator for a person being bi/multilingual: limited, professional, full, or native (native-like)? How is proficiency defined? And more specifically, does the term multilingualism have the same sense in the eyes of those who belong to a language education community (like BILD members) and those who are outside the field?
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A thumbnail sketch of an academic event (by Mehdi Babaei)

Today, I’m posting an overview of my sojourn at the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) and the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics (CAAL) 2015 joint conference. The conference was held at the Fairmount Royal York Hotel in Toronto, a flashy, swanky hotel, with beautiful architecture, fancy rugs and chandeliers, and historical pictures, which to me, looked like the Grand Budapest Hotel– which hosted those interested in language-related issues. These people include top-notch scholars, editors, faculty members, new and senior researchers, and graduate students, who were congregated to discuss, share, or brainstorm ideas in the field of Applied Linguistics. What struck me was the diverse ways these scholars positioned themselves in the field and how they wanted to be identified. As I’m delving into my recollections of the conference, I will take you through the floors, hallways, rooms and tables of the conference venue, in which one or more people were either looking back at the history of applied linguistics, talking enthusiastically about their findings, or politely criticizing others’ ideas.
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“Don’t ‘force’ me to love you; let me love you ‘myself’”: A Franco/Québeco-phile repertoire as a response to the counter-discourse (by Mehdi Babaei)

On January 25, 2015, the news was spread through the Québec Immigration Minister announcing that Québec is preparing a major reform of its immigration policy. The news came along after rather shocking news released by The Institut de la statistique du Québec in December 2014, reporting that Québec’s net loss (the net result on interprovincial migration) in 2013 was 13,100 people–– including a large number of skilled immigrant residents–– who chose either Ontario or Alberta for their next immigration destination. Thus what seems to be Québec’s brain drain is Ontario and Alberta’s brain gain.
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Montréal: A Mélange of Peoples, Selves, and “–Phones” (by Mehdi Babaei)

Educator and well-known author Stephen R. Covey once said, “strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” As a newcomer, my life in Montréal has been full of experiences of learning about differences. These experiences ranged from learning about Montréal’s ethnic and cultural communities (peoples), to the issues related to their identities (selves) and their languages (-phones). I was intrigued by all these experiences as an Allophone – a term often used in Québec to describe someone whose mother tongue is neither English nor French (a linguistic category not even mentioned in the Anglophone/Francophone dominant conversations in the previous posts!). My experiences have made it clear to me that “Anglophone” and “Francophone” are not what Montréal is all about, as the terms may seem to erase all other languages by not naming them and lumping them all in with “Allophone.” Montréal is an exemplar of peaceful symbiosis of richly varied communities, having multiple layers of languages, ethnicities, and religions (with more than 120 cultural communities and 150 different languages spoken). Therefore, diversity and multiculturalism may no longer be the best terms to describe the ever-changing nature of the city. This is, notably, of vital importance to policy makers, who still consider these communities through their own traditional lens. Continue reading