The conference analyzed the literacy of students who do not study in their family language and examined whether their academic and personal results are as expected.
Literacy is the topic for debate at Bilbao Berrikuntza Faktoria (BBF), specifically, literacy in multilingual environments. In a multilingual environment, the purpose of the educational system should be to enable students to master their mother tongue, as well as other national or international languages. But what happens when this is not the case? This issue and many others are being clarified at the conference organized by the Faculty of Humanities and Education Sciences of Mondragon University, where since yesterday, the 19th, and all day today, a multitude of local researchers from Mondragon University and other international universities such as the University of Vienna (Austria) and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have gathered at BBF. The purpose of this conference is to contribute new evidence to the research on disciplinary literacy in multilingual contexts.
Basque Government Deputy Minister of Education Begoña Pedrosa, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education Sciences of Mondragon University Nagore Ipiña, and Faculty of Humanities and Education Sciences teacher, researcher and conference organizer Ainara Imaz took part in the opening ceremony.
Ainara Imaz, teacher and researcher in the Faculty of Humanities and Education Sciences of Mondragon University, opened the conference with words of thanks for the participation of all the researchers who gave talks. In her presentation, Imaz underlined the importance of area literacy in integration and suggested that the conference serve as a “meeting point to share experiences in the face of the great challenges posed by multilingual literacy and that of those literate in a language that is not their family language.”
Next, Mondragon University Faculty of Humanities and Education Sciences Dean Nagore Ipiña took the floor, remarking that the International Conference on Academic Literacies in Multilingual Contexts: Bridging Research Evidence and Classroom Practice arose as part of a European research project, a study carried out “collaboratively and diligently, and done with and for schools.” A mode of research, that is, that, in Ipiña’s words, “is a perfect fit for the Faculty of Humanities and Education Sciences, a faculty that is committed to the Basque language and to languages of other places.”
To wrap up the presentation, Basque Government Deputy Minister of Education Begoña Pedrosa congratulated the organizers of the international conference and highlighted the importance of research on these issues in order to deal with the educational and social challenges we face, challenges such as multilingualism, new student profiles in schools, etc. In Pedrosa’s words, “collaborative university research is of great importance in decision-making, both in schools, in institutions, and between teachers and families.”
In the opening talk of the conference, Autonomous University of Madrid teacher and researcher Ana Llinares shared research carried out in conjunction with significant teaching teams in charge of educational content and languages. The researcher emphasized the importance of these types of multidisciplinary initiatives to promote equity and critical thinking among students.
Throughout these two days, the researchers gathered in Bilbao have worked both in plenary sessions and on different panels that took place simultaneously.
The importance of literacy in different areas
In the opinion of the research team, one of the main components of languages of schooling is disciplinary literacy. Each discipline or area generates knowledge in a specific way, and the language of that area therefore depends on the norms, customs and forms of communication of each discipline. The linguistic-discursive forms for the development and communication of the knowledge of the area are established from these disciplines.
In multilingual educational contexts, the language of schooling of many students is not their family language, and the integration of the disciplinary content and language is therefore a matter of great importance, as many pupils may not have achieved appropriate literacy, which would then have negative repercussions for their academic and personal development.