The LUMIERE group, established in 2023, brings together researchers who share a vision for language and education that is rooted in the related concepts of integration, inclusion and identity. A fundamental starting point for the group is that language variation and multilingualism are widespread, natural phenomena and represent valuable resources in today’s globalised society, but that linguistic capital is unevenly distributed and is subject to relations of power and inequality.
The group’s conceptualisation of multilingualism is based on the integration of languages and language skills. Thus, named languages like English, Irish and Irish Sign Language, as well as the different language skills, are seen as interrelated rather than discrete. Developing ability in one named language or in one language skill can complement linguistic development in other areas and can foster the development of individuals’ entire linguistic repertoire to its full potential, facilitating them to become competent, skilled multilinguals.
Inclusion is used in a broad sense by the group to recognise, embrace and value the linguistic resources of diverse populations. The term is intended to imply a non-deficit perspective on the language practices and the linguistic potential of people with varying socio-economic, cultural, gender, racial, and neurodiverse profiles. It expresses the group’s commitment to celebrating individuals’ existing language abilities and using these as a springboard for developing linguistic multicompetence among all sectors of the population, particularly through education.
Language is considered by the group as an act of identity, rather than merely a tool for communication. Every time social actors use language, every time they engage in an activity to modify, develop, or enhance their linguistic repertoire in some way, they engage in a process of identity (re)negotiation that provides a commentary on their (desired) position relative to their peers and broader society. Successful language education is mediated by, and contingent upon, identity-related factors such as attitudes, motivation, investment, and power relations. In that sense, language is seen as much more than a neutral, technical, disembodied phenomenon. It goes to the very core of who we are and who we want to be as people.
The LUMIERE group is attuned to the challenges that language education faces today, at local, national, and global levels. These include: monolingual and native speaker bias in language teaching, learning and research; the power of English as the language of technology and globalisation; transnational mobility and global migration crises; the sustainability of minority languages; the exclusion of large sectors of the population from the opportunity to engage with new languages; the rapid development of technology and the advent of AI. Together, these issues and others have a profound impact on the language choices that students, parents, teachers and other educational professionals make on a daily basis. Using the guiding principles of integration, inclusion and identity, members of the LUMIERE group are concerned with investigating these issues in language education across the following four related research strands:
- Language and education policy;
- Multilingual theories and practice;
- Multimodality in language development;
- Language curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.
Education and policy are both defined broadly. Education comprises formal, non-formal and informal processes, while policy is seen as a situated sociocultural practice that involves the interplay of language practices, language ideologies and language management that are enacted by institutions, groups or individuals and that can function at overt and covert levels. This strand includes investigations of the shifting role of language and literacy in the curriculum and in teacher education.
The multilingual theory and practice strand embraces emerging conceptualisations of the nature of language education today as articulated in theories on linguistic multicompetence, new speakers, superdiversity and translanguaging. This strand of research investigates how social actors experience language in education in circumstances that are increasingly fluid, changeable and uncertain.
Multimodality refers to the multifaceted use of language in education, ranging across different language skills, and across different media and platforms. Research in this strand is concerned with issues such as assistive technology, alternative and augmentative communication (AAC), computer assisted language learning, embodiment in language, and literacy.
The final strand is concerned with bi/multilingual teaching and learning, language curriculum development, and bi/multilingual assessment of language and literacy. Recognising the anglocentricity of much work in these fields, this strand aims to contribute to universal theories of language and literacy development to inform educational practice and curricula. Within this, a key focus is the inclusion of neurodiverse students in language and immersion education.