Ninth and tenth grade students in Naomi Barbour’s English for Academic Purposes (EAP) class have been diving into a topic that is highly relevant for their situation and connects to their sense of identity – multilingualism. Being a multilingual learner comes with a particular set of challenges and potential benefits, and this unit of study is designed to help students find out more about this topic and how it affects them. Key terms that they have become familiar with are balanced bilingual; language acquisition; active and passive language; compound, coordinate and subordinate bilinguals; additive and
The unit also ties in with UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day, which took place on February 21st. This provided the opportunity for the students to celebrate their first languages and Lincoln’s linguistic diversity. They created a colourful display board for the High School lobby packed with information about their first languages, and about how multilingualism can help the world to reach the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. There were also interactive elements where students and teachers alike were encouraged to share their “language evolution”, through first, second, third and more languages, as well as providing a space for them to think about what language they would like to learn next.
As with all activities which take place in the EAP class, the underlying goal is to develop the students’ academic English. As such, the unit of study is designed to cover all four language domains: listening, reading, speaking and writing. But the aim always is that these skills improve while the students are learning about something that is important to them and to which they can personally relate. After all, every member of the class has plenty of experience of being a multilingual learner.