Michał Daszkiewicz University of Gdańsk, POLAND; https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2463-393X
Bibliographic citation: (ISSN 2657-9774) Educational Role of Language Journal. Volume 2020-2(4). (Re-)Shaping One’s Identity with Language, Introduction, pp. 4-5
Language learning is a life-changing event with far-reaching individual, social, and cultural consequences. Along with advancing linguistic abilities comes enhanced awareness of one’s identity and development of a (renewed) language self. On the more general level, it determines one’s identification with particular social groups and impacts on educational, social, economic, and cultural processes such as inclusion, acceptance, recognition, and integration. On a narrower scale, becoming familiar with even a single linguistic item opens up new perspectives and thus enriches one’s everyday life experience. In either case, the expansion of one’s identity via language is inevitably a holistic and comprehensive individual experience, cutting across one’s views, actions, emotions, and conceptualisations of the world.
The very existence of linguistic varieties (identities) poses a significant challenge to be addressed by modern educational systems, which – in order to remain relevant and consequently practical, too – need to adopt novel, transdisciplinary approaches and methods of teaching and learning. Such is the case with (Django and Paris’s) concept of culturally sustaining pedagogy (CSP), the emergence of which we have recently observed as a respectful and productive critique of previous formulations of asset pedagogies. As one of the proposals admitting linguistic identities into education, it exemplifies concepts which point out the salience of language not only for one’s multi-faceted development, but also the advancement of education and society as a whole. It is through this admission of linguistic identities that the diversity of linguistic capital is recognised, which is of paramount importance in light of the fact that the linguistic dimension of learners’ and teachers’ identities proves to determine their status, success, and quality of life.
Accordingly, the focus of this volume is on the individual facet, which can be argued to be most directly observable and relevant regardless of one’s cultural and linguistic background. How any language user situates themselves on the level of language underlies how s/he positions herself/himself in the world as a whole, regardless of whether this interdependence is realized by an individual or not. Such an approach to language as shaping one’s identity and one’s self-positioning characterises the interpretative paradigm, whereby individuals interpret reality in their own ways and assign meanings to what they encounter by applying highly personalised systems of concepts, with regard to which they hold their own beliefs, undertake self-imposed actions, and cherish emotions generated through their learning (and/or teaching) trajectories.
Hence the title of this volume – (RE-)SHAPING ONE’S IDENTITY WITH LANGUAGE, pertaining to processes undergoing on several levels. To reflect the overarching character of linguistic experience and its lasting impact on one’s identity, the volume addresses the eponymous issue through the prism of interdisciplinarity, cross-cultural encounters, linguistic quality, and cross-domain intersections. As opposed to the three earlier volumes, the research papers are included in the volume in subsequent parts together with reviews and a report (on the first ERL online Session) to better reflect the volume’s complementarity also on the level of text formats and the experiencing of empirical data or academic readings and activities. Following the two opening volumes of ERL Journal devoted to boostingthe educational experiencing of language (2019-1(1)) and enhancing multiculturalism in language education (2019-2(2)), this volume is the second one centred around the concept of identity, with the examination of linguistic dimension having been the focus of the previous volume (2020-1(3)). All the four volumes published so far need to be seen as following from one another and thus provide a comprehensive picture, which in the volumes to come is to be further developed and addressed from the perspective of hard times, affected by the global pandemic and other phenomena via which our linguistic identity remains continuously reshaped.
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