Decolonising language teaching: focus on less commonly taught languages
The aims of the project are:
- Progress curriculum decolonising project for less commonly taught languages; give voice to the under-represented MFL community of practice; bring decolonising language teaching agenda to language teaching in secondary schools.
- Transform the way we teach and learn as an inclusive community.
- Advance the EDI agenda of King’s Language Centre and School of Education by expanding curriculum decolonising to less commonly taught languages, such as Russian, Arabic and Mandarin.
- Facilitate engagement of students from KLC and ECS as curriculum co-creators and co-researchers.
- Provide students with research experience and develop their analytical skills.
- Foster students and staff collaboration through involvement in action research, leading to policy change and transformative action.
In 2022 we received an EDI grant for £9,571 aiming at decolonizing language teaching curriculum, including action research, training and reflective practice. This was a joint project between King’s Language School, School of Education, Communication and Society and King’s online. It involved 6 PGCE students and 3 KLC students as co-researchers. Throughout the year, the project facilitators organised staff development events with external speakers, reading groups and discussions on curriculum decolonizing with specific focus on French, Spanish, Italian and German language teaching.
The students co-researchers interviewed teachers of these and other languages, observed lessons and analyzed reading lists, resources, teaching methodologies and pedagogies. This was followed by further discussions on data analysis, self-reflections and practical recommendations from the students on what and how we teach these languages.
The mentoring scheme, developed by King’s Language Centre, King’s School of Education, Communication and Society and partner schools – PGCE students’ placements, enabled students and staff to develop deeper understanding of issues related to decentering and decolonizing agenda through guided self-reflection and practical workshops.
The results of the project were presented at two conferences and on the website https://www.kcl.ac.uk/research/decolonising-language-teaching. The project identified the need to explore individual language teaching curricula in a more nuanced, culturally and historically specific way, using cultural and linguistic expertise of the students- curriculum researchers. The project outlined the gap in research on curriculum decolonising in Arabic, Russian and Mandarin teaching. We intend to make these languages the focus of the next step in our research, due to their strategic importance and the need for self-identification of our multi-ethnic and multi-cultural students’ community.
The success of developing decolonising curricula agenda for secondary schools has pointed to the need to expand it further by engaging more ECS students in reviewing the content and pedagogy of language teaching.
We believe that the next step of the project will transform the way we teach these languages and request the funding to recruit 3 KLC students – speakers of Arabic, Russian, Mandarin and 3 BA and MA students from ECS to conduct in-depth research and analysis of pedagogical and methodological aspects of curricula, providing recommendations and leading to action of change.
The project facilitators – specialists in Arabic, Russian and Mandarin and the colleagues from ECS will mentor the students in conducting action research and facilitate CPD events and discussions, which will involve both staff and students.
We will also engage expert academics and practitioners in facilitating workshops and discussions on teaching these languages and culture through decolonising lens.
The results of the second stage of the project will be reflected in the website and presented at relevant conferences.
Decolonising the language curriculum research network will be set up to link the proposed project with ECS International Perspectives on Decentring the language teaching curriculum to provide a space for showcasing the work of KLC and ECS.