Bonny Norton - On multilingual literacy and identity

Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, in the turbulent apartheid years, Dr. Bonny Norton learnt at an early age the complex relationship between language, power, and identity. Now a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Distinguished University Scholar in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at UBC,her passion for social justice and the role of language education in social change has fuelled her extensive body of research in North America and Africa. Her research is centrally concerned with the promotion of multilingual literacy for children, youth, and adults, and is informed by her seminal work on identity and language learning, described in her 2010 AERA award as “changing the face of second language research”. Her work has introduced novel conceptions of identity to the field of language education, and has been the subject of journal special issues in the USA (1997, 2003, 2017), Japan (2002), China (2007), and Europe (2016). Her publications have been translated into French, Chinese, Portuguese, and German. Dr. Norton’s construct of investment has had a profound impact on international scholarship, and is the topic of a special issue of the leading journal, Langage et Société (2016). Her theory, based on extensive research, holds that while a language learner may be highly motivated (a psychological construct), the learner may not be invested (a sociological construct) in the language practices of a given classroom or community, which may, for example, be racist, sexist, or homophobic. A highly productive scholar, her publications include 5 books, 4 journal special issues, and 125 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Her current research addresses multilingual literacy for children in African and Canadian communities, and is included in the 2014 special issue she guest edited for the Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development on “Multilingual literacy and social change in African communities” and her 2017 co-edited special issue of the Modern Language Journal on “Transdisciplinarity and language teacher identity”. played:“Bridging Classroom and Community: Languages and Cultures in Action” offered in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Western University in London, Ontario, CanadaUNESCO celebrates International Literacy Day every September 8th. In 2019 its focus was on ‘Literacy and multilingualism’ Embracing linguistic diversity in education and literacy development is central to addressing these literacy challenges and to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.Professor Zubeida Desai, Dean of Education, University of the Western Cape, interview from HIGHER EDUCATION TODAY -- Language and Education produced by the University of the District of Columbia and the University of Cape Town"Multilingual approaches to teaching and learning," at Purnululu Independent Aboriginal Community School in Australia, teaching literacy across all levels of the school, produced by AITSL.

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