SOAS University of London

SOAS scholars aim to change perception of multilingualism in the classroom through launch of new teaching materials

6 March 2018

A team led by Professor Friederike Lüpke, Professor of Language Documentation and Description at SOAS University of London, is bringing education about multilingualism into the classroom through a new set of teaching materials created around a film made in the AHRC Collaborative Skills Development Scheme: Skills development for language research and teaching in a multilingual world.

The teaching materials, launched at the Royal Anthropology Institute last month, have been developed from the award-winning film Kanraxël: The Confluence of Agnack – which was filmed at Professor Friederike Lüpke’s field site and produced by SOAS alumna and documentary film producer (Chouette Films) Anna Sowa. The film paints a portrait of diversity and multilingualism as a daily, hourly linguistic practice, through the story of the village of Agnack Grand.

The aim of the teaching material is to change the way multilingualism is perceived and taught in schools and universities. School pupils will be able to explore issues that range from the causes and benefits of multilingualism to patterns of multilingual language use. For more advanced topics aimed at university students, the resources will focus on topics such as language policies in multilingual contexts, methods for sociolinguistic data collection and linguistic repertoires.

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KANRAXËL - The Confluence of Agnack (video clip)

Former economics teacher turned trainer and writer Neela Doležalová, who developed the materials for schools, said: “I was keenly aware from my own teaching that resources such as ‘Kanraxël’ aren’t often available for use in schools. To put it bluntly, there will be students in English secondary schools who may never work from a case-study set in an African country outside of a Geography lessons.”

Professor Lüpke said: “There is a widespread conception of multilingualism as a modern phenomenon widespread in urban areas and associated with growing mobility and migration in an era of globalisation. Through the teaching materials that we have developed, we aim to change perceptions of how multilingualism is viewed. Kanraxël, for example, offers viewers the rare opportunity to become directly immersed in versatile multilingual practices in a tiny village in Senegal.  It helps to shed these stereotypical expectations on what multilingualism is and what it means to speak several languages and importantly demonstrates multilingualism as a resource, not as a problem.”

Teaching resources image

Example of teaching resources

The teaching materials have been funded by the SOAS impact fund and stem from Professor Lüpke’s research on small-scale multilingualism in rural areas.  Miriam Weidl and Samantha Goodchild, who created the university teaching resources, are part of the Crossroads project team led by her.

All the teaching materials are available free of charge: https://www.kanraxel.uk/schools and https://www.kanraxel.uk/university