Monday, April 09, 2012

Barcelona Linguistic Landscape

Some days ago I read a post on Scott Thornbury's blog "An A-Z of ELT" about Linguistic Landscapes (which I really recommend you!). Thornbury said that “Barcelona may be an extreme case of public multilingualism, given the fact that it is the capital of a region that already has two official languages, as well as being a major tourist centre”.
Two official languages coexist with English. 

The term linguistic landscape is a relatively recent one, and refers to the visibility and salience of languages on public and commercial signs in a given territory or region. It is proposed that the linguistic landscape may serve important informational and symbolic functions as a marker of the relative power and status of the linguistic communities inhabiting the territory (Landry and Bourhis, 1997: 23).
Nowadays you can "listen" to over 300 different languages ​​in Barcelona
So, a Linguistic Landscape has a lot to do with visual literacy and language policy in a new approach to multilinguism.

Thornbury points that this “can easily be reproduced as a classroom project, with the students taking on the role of “language detectives”‘, thereby becoming more aware of their own sociolinguistic context”.

I love the idea of language detectives. Every September, when the new school year begins, I organize a competition to pique the groups’ curiosity by asking them to collect examples of “English” they can find in and around their homes (tins, wrappings, packets, shop bags, toys, ads, magazines...).

 This little research become a starting point to introduce new vocabulary and review old one. It is also a good starter to do a task like “Designing T-shirts”, for example.

As an example, you can ask children to take some photos during a school trip and organize a session to answer the following questions (or some other ones adapted to primary level):

  • Where was this photo taken?
  • How many languages can you see?
  • Who wrote the text? For whom?
  • Why is (some of it) in English?
  • Is there a translation? Why/why not?
  • Is it correct?
  • Is there anything you don’t understand?
  • Is there anything you would like to remember?

Sure you've got some more interesting ideas!

1 comment:

  1. What a great idea!!!!!!!!!!!
    I note it down too and (if I have work) for sure students will be very interested being language detectives!!