Group for bilingualism and multiculturalism in education and society

We are honoured to welcome you to the second issue of “Polydromo”,which has already won the support of a good number of subscribers in Greece, Cyprus, England, Denmark and Australia. Our most sincere thanks go to all our subscribers, as well as to all the members of our group, who, hopefully, will continue to grow, making it possible for us to fulfill our goals both in education, and in society in general.Communication among educators,parents and children is a very important goal of our periodical.

Most specifically in contexts of language contact, communication, rather than particular lingusistic structures, becomes the focal point. The transference or mixing of elements, code-swirtching, the use of words with elements from two or more languages are all common and necessary for all those who experience the contact of languages, cultures or countries. Bilinguals do not need to choose between two distinct linguistic and cultural systems, because such a choice would be either unnecessary or impossible. “Greeks of Australia”, “Greek-Australians”, “a French woman of a Greek background”, “Greek-French”, “Greek-background Lebanese”,“Albanian woman who lives in Greece”, “Greek-Albanian”, “student of Russianpontian origin” etc are terms that express, directly or indirectly, a complex identity with many ethnic, linguistic and cultural dimensions.

Thus, the monolingual norm gives its place to a wide and growing range of communicative possibilities and, to quote Brutt-Griffler-Varghese (2004), to “a mixture of cultures and world views, impenetrable to some and troubling to others”. However, this ‘mixture’ remains the only possible choice for all those, children, adults and members of ethnic groups, who live in between linguistic and cultural borders. In this context, which is the place of the linguistic norm? We neither propose nor imply its cancellation, but we certainly consider necessary its redefinition on the basis of its contact with the other languages or varieties that complete the range of our communicative possibilities. When our aim is communication, all its available forms, languages, dialects and varieties, should never be penalized or invisible, especially within the school context. On the contrary, they should be celebrated and acted upon in ways that have been proposed by the relevant bibliography (i.e “Teaching proposals” in this volume).

The above thoughts were inspired by the moving message of young Ariola, primary school student from Volos, which became our second cover. Her message, accompanying her drawing, written in a code the expresses her developing bilingualism, her own synthesis of her languages and cultures, and her own relationship with the world around her, is a very clear one: when the need for communication is strong and sincere, then, the linguistic code, despite its distance from the linguistic norm of the school and the dominant society, becomes its most faithful servant. Thank you Ariola!

Roula Tsokalidou


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