Attending an international conference is always an exciting time for me.
The pleasure of meeting authors of books or articles I’ve read, learning about new research and new ways of looking at issues and mingling with others from all over the world who are involved in the same kinds of activities as yourself is an experience worth having. From March 27th to 28th, I had the privilege of attending and participating in a conference of this type held at the University of Oxford in England entitled:
First and Second Languages: Exploring the Relationship in Pedagogy-Related Contexts.
The event, hosted by the Applied Linguistics Group at the Department of Education, focused on the use of the mother tongue in the foreign language classroom as a tool: not one that takes away for promoting the foreign language, but one that constitutes part of a healthy bilingual environment. In other words, “code-switching” or the choice to move between languages is not a sign of the inability to function in either language and should, as such, not be seen as a deficit, but rather as a benefit to foreign language development. Some of the research presented confirmed this view by providing evidence of the positive effects of the use of the native language in foreign language instruction not only on target language development, but on academic achievement in general. One very provocative question arising during the conference was:
Are we creating bilinguals or monolinguals of a second language?
Wow! That’s a lot food for thought, “oder?”