CIES Secretariat    Florida International University    312 ZEB    Miami, FL  33199

Number 144




The CIES Language Issues SIG:  Potential for more?

The Language Issues SIG met during the Baltimore conference, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2007 from 12:00-1:30, with 19 people in attendance.  Among the discussion points were recent member publications, presentation, and field activities, our electronic newsletter, election of representatives, the development of a Language Issues SIG webpage for CIES members, development workers, researchers and others invested in language issues in learning, teaching and educational development. 

We started LI SIG informally about six years ago as a networking platform and to coordinate our efforts at conferences so that we could avoid time conflicts and organize coherent panels related to language issues in education.  This year there were over 80 language-related papers, 29 of which were organized by the LI SIG. In many other sessions, a number of references were made to mother tongue/bilingual education by people presenting on themes like equity, literacy and educational quality.  This is very encouraging, because it seems to indicate growing recognition of the role language plays in educational development. 

Those of us who have been participating in the Language Issues SIG study a range of themes related to language: mother tongue-based bi/multilingual education, elite bilingualism, language policy and practice, adult literacy and alternative education, immigrant and minority education, and heritage language education. We are educationists, policy analysts, linguists and anthropologists (even economists?!), and many of us are researchers and practitioners in the sense that we are involved in projects in developing (and sometimes developed) countries.  This year we presented data from a wide range of countries, including but not limited to Bangladesh, Bolivia, Estonia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Guinea-Conakry, India, Latvia, Mali, Senegal, South Africa, Thailand, the US and Vietnam.  We represent a range of perspectives as well, though many of us are committed to providing educational services in the languages people understand best, i.e. their mother tongues. 

During and outside of the SIG meeting, a few of us continued to discuss how to get the most out of the LI SIG activities.  It is not enough for us to continue talking to each other about familiar language-related ideas; we need to stretch our perspectives, our membership and our audience to develop in new ways.  The emergence of language issues at the forefront of development discourse during this conference seems to indicate they are cross-cutting and multi-disciplinary.  For instance, The LI SIG sponsored a two-part session entitled “Education for All in a multilingual world: Is this feasible?” Helen Abadzi of the World Bank raised points from neuro-cognitive research related to the literacy challenges in countries where the colonial languages are English, French and Portuguese.  Others linked culture and identity and language to educational access in new, interesting ways. We plan to pursue such research in terms of policy relevance at next year’s conference. Further, we aim to explore how research and policy can be linked to change some of the development aid modalities in ways that favor good educational practice based on solid theoretical frameworks, research and local voices.  

Some of the possible themes of future panels (with special thanks to Dan Wagner for his brainstorm, which greatly facilitated our thinking): 

          1. The intersection of research, policy and practice in educational language issues (Involving invited presenters
          and a follow-up lunch discussion)

          2. Problematizing bilingual education models and methods: To transfer and transition (especially in poorly-
          resourced areas)

          3. Cost-benefit analysis of mother tongue/bi/multilingual education programs

          4. Innovations, equity and success in mother tongue/bi/multilingual education programs

          5. Answering the tough questions: Challenges by parents, policy makers and development agencies

          6. Indigenous voices on interculturalism and its relationship to bilingual education

We want to emphasize that the Language Issues SIG (like all SIGs) is open to all members who are interested in participating.  We hope to do more outreach during the year, and this brief article is one effort to disseminate information and involve more scholars in the dialogue.  Our congratulations go to Kara Brown, who has already called attention to language policy issues by being awarded the 2007 Gail B. Kelly Award for her dissertation on mother tongue education in Estonia.  If you are not yet a member but are interested in participating or simply in receiving our electronic newsletter, please contact Kathleen Kimpel [] 

Carol Benson, Stockholm University

Andrea Clemons, University of Southern California






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                 by Steve Klees

Engaging our Differences

                          Poem by
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Research Reports and Scholarly Observations

Voices of the Youth

       by Vandra Massema

The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in Africa: A rationality challenge to the pursuit of universal primary education 

by Bernard Gwekwerere


UNESCO Project on Student Loans in Asia 

by Y. Zhao and
                   B. Johnstone


Educating Citizens and HIV/AIDS: Challenges for South Africa

      by Susan Gibbs Goetz


Project Descriptions

Fulbright Connections – Going Abroad and Hosting

       by Kristi Johnson and
                    Shelly Haser

University Partners for Institutional Capacity: The University of Massachusetts-University of Malawi Partnership

                 by David Evans
    and Gretchen Rossman

Public Private Partnerships in Education: The Namibian Example

       by Muhammed Liman

The European Odyssey Program

             by Timothy Smith
          and Linda Longmire


Conference Reports

2007 Elections
Gender and Education Symposium
Gender and Education Committee

(Click here to view the procedures to create or join a SIG and announcements.)


Language Issues SIG

Space designed for your suggestions, comments, or questions regarding the CIES Newsletter.



(Information about conferences and events, recently-published books, positions available, etc.)

Editor’s Corner
For the September 2007 Newsletter, please submit INFORMATIVE SHORT REPORTS or REFLECTIONS, maximum 3 pages double spaced, on topics such as (but not limited to) international development projects, teaching of Comparative & International Education
courses, or critical issues in the Society. Research articles or abbreviated versions of articles or papers for publication are not accepted.
Please send your reports or reflections to


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