Schools Workshops

Diversity in The Language Classroom

Visit to University of Bedfordshire

Bedford Campus, 2019

The University of Bedfordshire, MA language students, at the Bedford Campus.

Desiree Bashi was presenting alternative ways to illustrate language material, to include intercultural factors, and how to prepare for diverse audiences learning English as a second language. Her series of intercultural books for children were also a topic for discussion, leading to related debates about diversity, and ethical language teaching in a very diverse society.

Desiree Bashi’s research on diversity in language learning offers insights on how to teach to diverse audiences.

We all come from different linguistic backgrounds. We grow up surrounded by language/s and traditions and are thus, partly, defined by those inputs. However, our backgrounds’ shapes change over time, and what we know is enhanced by the many different layers coming from different sources.

Desiree is interested in cultural and linguistic enhancement and especially in how this unfolds in language learning and teaching in a society that has access to different cultures. Whilst others may focus on language learning only, Desiree highlights the importance of bringing diversity into language classes and how this connects with us socially.

Since graduating, Desiree’s work focuses on diversity and inter-culturality, constantly, searching for the connection between us, our culture and languages.

What would you consider as a teacher who aims to bring diversity to a language classroom?

I would view lesson planning as a work in progress that evolves constantly depending on the class and students. This is something that takes a while to get used to, but it nurtures the requirement to advance the work towards intercultural diversity in a flexible way. Discussing inter-culturality, with a range of people provides momentum, along with the learning space, and allows the teacher to be mindful of students’ diversity.

What roadblocks have you run into in language teaching and how did you overcome them?

With language learning, I don’t see any roadblocks as such. It’s a pure form of exchange with no limits. It’s more about permitting open discussions to happen, to be absorbed and to be dealt with by some inner workings. So really it’s a case of trusting your inner self to work things out together, automatically, with people that come from very different backgrounds from your own. Good ideas come to me, – thanks to the input I receive through research and through listening to people with different opinions – I never consciously go and seek them out. The research side of being a lingustic has plenty of potential roadblocks, including time management, working around personal and professional commitments, while trying to grow as an individual.

What habits have served you well over the years?

I view work from different perspectives. While I am working on something I will look for further sources of information from different subjects and topics, both formal and informal sources, there is always valuable information in everything. The top priority is to make your health your priority allowing yourself to calmly bond with imperfection and countless valuable mistakes.

How do you budget/manage your time and how would you advise others about managing their time?
Knowing when you work at your best is very helpful. I’m full of energy mid-morning, so I will make sure that I do the important things then. Reviewing my week, on a regular basis helps, me to adapt to changes. Regular breaks keep me sane, but when I have momentum, I don’t stop. Lastly, slowly, but consistently, I believe in compounding effort amounting to remarkable changes.

What information do you need to feed your mind?

There is an infinite amount of information around us now, focusing on what we find interesting and relevant to our own lives is important. Equally, sparks of valuable information can be where you least expect them too. Anything that kindles thought, emotions, and ideas are valid. Music, books, movies, art, seminars, and talking to different people is as valuable as formal academic research. The list is endless and a simple walk down to the grocery can be a source of inspiration if we observe attentively enough.

What is one word that describes your process?

Curiousity?

What captivates you right now?
I am reading further academic work on intercultural awareness in language classrooms. It’s something I feel is a very important topic but generally, there seems to be little that is academically understood on the subject. It seems that we can only experience languages mechanically in the way we utter words and not through our own identities

What detail of the languages currently fixates you?
Differences and similarities, and the astonishing ability to express words and sentences in so many different ways.

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