University of Gdańsk, POLAND; https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2463-393X
Bibliographic citation: (ISSN 2657-9774) Educational Role of Language Journal. Volume 2022-1(7). PLACING LANGUAGE IN THE CENTRE OF SCHOOLING, Introduction, pp. 4-5
Educational systems which ignore language as its unequivocal foundation can be regarded as essentially haphazard. Not resting education on language is tantamount to disregard for four basic truths following from one another: (1) Language shapes one’s identity and understanding of the world, (hence) (2) All education rests on language, (hence) (3) Every teacher is a language teacher, (hence) (4) Language merits a special position in education. These four straightforward statements – constituting the key premises of ERL Framework, to which ERL Association as the publisher of ERL Journal belongs to – point to such evident priority of language to be assigned to it that does not apply to any other subject or discipline. They also imply that in order to take them all into account in a sufficient degree, educational systems would need to be practically devised completely anew, which, with education remaining an ongoing process across the globe, may be hard to envisage as plausible for implementation too soon. Yet, it still remains not only possible, but unequivocally necessary if the education of our children and next generations is not to fall behind what we know today about how people learn and how significant a role is played by language in the entire process.
More specifically, what the world of education call been calling for is a thorough reconsideration of students’ development marking the presence of language of four different levels (ranging from its one-off classroom uses to its pivotal role in life-changing processes). First, as we can read on ERL Association’s website, on the instructional level, language needs to be “invited” more into classrooms of different subjects as it has been shown to underlie students’ reality and to enable sense-making, genuine learning, and knowledge construction (or knowledge composition, as I myself tend to refer to the process of language use encompassing, like in music, the fixed and the novel, meaning well-known “pieces” (formulaic language), on the one hand, and authorial or artistic combinations of words and phrases). Second, on the systemic level language needs to be assigned a paradigmatic role in the construction of hybrid educational systems owing to its today-unquestioned developmental potential and interdisciplinary presence providing bases for educational alternatives resting on criticality, equality of languages, plurilingual and transdisciplinary literacy and oracy. Third, on the cultural level, language needs to be viewed as a platform of cultural change and intercultural communication, with cultural diversity resting predominantly on language and the quality of educational systems depending on the level of subject literacy and oracy being the fundamental indicator of effective teaching and meaningful learning. And fourth, on the societal level, language needs to be prioritized as the dominant “player” in civilizational change, with its omnipresence in social life serving international cooperation and formation of learners’ and teachers’ linguistic (culturally-conditioned) identities, and language determining the equalization of educational opportunities and thus fostering democracy.
To serve the language-oriented breakthrough in question, under the ERL Framework we join inguistic and educational “forces” by combining the aims of the two disciplines developing and drawing on interdisciplinary theories and devising joint research and practices. These four ‘joints” have recently provided grounds for the fifth international Educational Role of Language conference, which took place at the point when we were all coming out of the pandemic period and experiencing new – not only technological – solutions in linguistic education. Following a roughly two-year period during which we had all functioned essentially online without the possibility of natural and direct language exchange, we could approach the issue of combining educational and linguistic sciences from freshly developed perspectives and with remote-education experience that had made us crave for renewed face-to-face interaction and for the possibility of hearing and telling new educational and pedagogical “strokes” (as we have recently come to refer to such items of exchange as stories, jokes, riddles, or scientific discoveries). Besides all the hardship and toil brought about by the pandemic, numerous educationally-linguistic initiatives arose from the fact that when teaching online linguists had to reach out to pedagogical concepts in order to make their students more involved, all the educators who had had little to do with language in their everyday work could experience on an everyday basis the salience of language and (frequently faceless) communication.
This volume of ERL Journal tells a part of this ERL “tale” aiming at PLACING LANGUAGE IN THE CENTRE OF SCHOOLING. It covers two parts, one in which focuses on centralizing spoken and written text, and the other on centralizing language-oriented methods and policies. Jointly, the texts, seven papers and two reports, well exemplify the subject matter, which has always been educationally crucial but which had gained even more weight as a result of the pandemic. In relating to the pandemic aftermath the volume continues the theme undertaken by the previous volume, which was devoted to the notion of linguistic well-being (before, during, and after the pandemic). The volume does not aspire to tell the entire eponymous “story” , but only touches the surface as the problem of how to place language in the center of schooling requires extensive theoretical and empirical studies which we, under the ERL Framework, try to – in our pedagogically-linguistic circle, jointly undertake. We do encourage our readers to join these efforts and to submit texts (as scientific papers or other types of writings) which may help to put language in the at the heart of education, that is the place where it truly belongs.