Abstract: The Sustainable Development Goals have been criticised due to the lack of attention which they give to issues around language (Marinotti 2016). This has been viewed by linguists as detrimental as ‘development is not possible without language’ (Bamgbose 2014, p650). This presentation will highlight the role that language policy can have within sustainable development. The seminar will provide an overview of the major stages in the changing relationship between language and development, with a focus on the language ideologies which are present in each stage, and will discuss the value of engaging with multilingualism as a resource to achieving sustainable development. This will be done through presenting data from three separate projects which focus on language-in-education policies in different countries, including Botswana, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia.
While these projects are interdisciplinary and relate to various SDGs, they each have a strong linguistics focus. The first project is a linguistic ethnography of Malawian universities, the findings of which highlight how language is used and is viewed within higher education in the country. The second project to be discussed is a Scottish Funding Council GCRF project - The Effect of English-only Instruction on Skill Formation and Labour Market Readiness of Young Malawians - which investigated the relationship between language policy, skills formation and labour marking outcomes in Malawi. Finally, the third project is an ongoing British Academy GCRF project - Bringing the outside in: Merging local language and literacy practices to enhance classroom learning and achievement - which focuses on multilingual language practices and quality education in Botswana, Tanzania and Zambia. The talk will conclude by highlighting the ways in which linguistics can engage with the SDGs and summarising the role which language policy research can play in achieving sustainable development.
Bamgbose, A. (2014) The Language Factor in Development Goals. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development Vol 35 (7), pp 646-657.
Marinotti, J. P. (2016) Final Report: Symposium on Language and the Sustainable Development Goals New York, 21-22 April 2016
About the speaker
Dr Colin Reilly, University of Essex
Colin Reilly is a Senior Research Officer in the Department of Language and Linguistics at the University of Essex. He is currently investigating multilingualism in education in Botswana, Tanzania, and Zambia as part of the British Academy-Global Challenges Research Fund project “Bringing the outside in: Merging local language and literacy practices to enhance classroom learning and achievement.
The BA-GCRF project he currently works on investigates language practices in classrooms in Botswana, Tanzania, and Zambia. He also has extensive experience conducting research in Malawi. This includes his PhD research which involved linguistic ethnographic work investigating the sociolinguistics of higher education in Malawi. Prior to joining Essex, he was a Research Assistant on a Scottish Funding Council-Global Challenges Research Fund project investigating the relationship between language policy, skills formation, and labour market outcomes in Malawi.