Comments from the Editors and Reviewers:
Comments to the Author
Dear Author(s), Thank you for this intersting book review. It is amazing how is seems to be possible to talk and write about multilingualism and ignore all the publications in languages other than English. Is it arrogance or ignorance? Who is going to take us researchers on multilingualism seriously if we restrict ourselves to English? Why do we advise learners to become multilingual when we ourselves think “English only” is good enough. This way we will not be able to promote multilingualism because we do not set a good example. I would therefore like to ask you to :
1) include at least three references which are not written in the English language but in other languages (which you – no doubt – will speak, read and write);
2) check whether Cummins refers to LOTE-works at all and comment on this. I think Cummins is one of our most important researchers in this area, still it needs to be clear that he himself behaves multilingually when he promotes mulitlingualism.
Please add three to four references and cite them in text using APA format for non-English quotes.
Also, please refer to comment #2 in order to add the discussion on this point to the manuscript.
Rethinking the Education of Multilingual Learners: A Critical Analysis of Theoretical Concepts, by J. Cummins, Multilingual Matters, 2021, 464 pages, ISBN: 9781800413573
Over the last four decades, Jim Cummins has suggested several greatly dominant hypothetical ideas, counting the interdependence and threshold theories as well as the difference between school language ability and conversational articulacy. In his volume, Rethinking the Education of Multilingual Learners: A Critical Analysis of Theoretical Concepts, Cummins offers his own interpretation of the manner in which these concepts advanced. The writer also explores the validity of critiques these theories have caused, employing the principles of consequential validity, logical coherence, as well as empirical adequacy. These principles of theoretical validity are similarly employed in the assessment of two dissimilar accounts of the translanguaging concept –Crosslinguistic Translanguaging Concept and Unitary Translanguaging Concept– in such a manner that considerably explains this debatable notion. The current paper seeks to provide a book review on Cummins’s book Rethinking the Education of Multilingual Learners: A Critical Analysis of Theoretical Concepts.
A key theme of Cummins’s book is that practice and theory are permeated by one another. Practice creates the theory that, sequentially, catalyzes novel guidelines in practice, which enlightens theory (Jarvis, 2006). This viewpoint is mirrored in the book’s investigative orientation. Cummins’s interest begins and concludes with the things that take place between learners and teachers. The book’s orientation on the hypothetical notion is simultaneously very practical. The aim of exploring hypothetical concepts is to improve the evolving educational practices in order to make them evidence-cantered and more successful in encouraging impartial results in interpersonal groups (Dearden, 2011). One of the implications of this investigative focus of Cummins’s book is that the assessment of hypothetical ideas pertinent to learning must consider the consequences of that idea for learning practice and academic policy. To describe more correctly the correlation between practice and theory, Cummins recommends expanding the consequential validity concept from its initial creation in the appraisal area to the assessment of hypothetical propositions and ideas. Cummins (2021) argues that people must assess the educational implications of employing hypothetical propositions or concepts. Precisely, people ought to enquire about the degree to which a specific claim or idea is beneficial in supporting successful education.
The centrality allocated in Cummins’s text to the educators’ role as representatives of educational and social evolution is associated with the concepts of consequential legitimacy. The instructional roles of educators in the teaching space contribute greatly to the determination of the degree to which minoritized learners would rise from the identity nest shaped by the presumed by their limits, for instance, English language students, to a social space shaped by their achievement and aptitudes, both intellectual and linguistics. Cummins argues in his book, and particularly in chapter eleven that the practice of pushing past standardized educational limits places an educator as a knowledge creator and co-creator of the concepts instead of as just a receiver of outwardly created research-cantered instructional techniques that they are likely to employ. Similarly, the educator agency is at the centre of defying the influential power systems that have outranked minoritized communities and learners for numerous years (Calvert, 2016).
This sort of viewpoint has distinctive implications for the types of theoretical assertions as well as discourses that Cummins considers pertinent to the matters deliberated within his book. A theoretical assertion with negligible medium- or short-term implications for teachers’ work might be intriguing, though it is mostly immaterial to the issues discussed in Cummins’s book. A majority of theoretical claims and constructs deliberated in the book originate mainly from the teachers’ work and are purposed to serve as the resource and catalyst for continuing discourse amongst policymakers, researchers, as well as teachers.
According to Cummins (2021), the teachers whose motivational multilingual process is outlined in chapter eleven have changed the standardized monolingual model in which they were socialized. A majority of them would find it offensive if they are informed that encouragement of bilingualism or their devotion to improving the multilingualism of their learners is just negligibly more progressive than a monolingual alignment which carries on dominating a majority of educational practices. Cummins (2021) writes in chapter eleven that numerous educators all over the world are currently allowing their learners to analyse and compare their innate languages against the overriding school language. The author argues that theoretical claims like ‘language disinvention,’ which weakens multilingualism promotion and challenges the presence of languages, do not have anything to add to the efforts of the teachers to encourage the learners’ language capacities and insights into differences and similarities between their dialects. Cumming goes on to argue that theoretical ideas which are, to this point, eliminated from classroom operations fail to improve teacher agency or to serve as the catalyst for advanced educational novelty. Here, Cummins wishes to highlight the point that theoretical notions which fail to willingly be involved in a mutual discourse with educational practice may be overlooked by teachers. Furthermore, theoretical ideas which originate from classroom operations and are collectively created by teachers along with university-cantered researchers are considerably more expected to push educator agency leading to educational evolution.
Cummins’s book is segmented into three sections. The first section offers a personal version of the way the hypothetical notions he suggested in the ’70s were developed and the manner in which they have transformed ever since up to the early 2000s. Cummins’s book describes in wide detail this evolutional process. The second part of the book concentrates on the evolution of theory and research as well as the instructional practice associated with the learning of multilingual students in the last two decades between the early 2000s and the year 2021 (Cummins, 2021). The first chapter pinpoints three standards for measuring the validity of some theoretical framework, construct or claim, i.e., logical coherence, empirical adequacy, in addition to consequential validity. In the following chapters, these standards are employed to assess several things. First is the analysis of the concept of academic language as well as the difference between academic language and conversation. Second is the validity of theoretical theories which tackle the correlations between school language and the home of bilingual learners. The third thing involves debates over the concept of translanguaging and the hypothetical propositions which have become connected to that concept. The last one is the claim that addictive methods to the bilingualism of minoritized learners are pervaded by dialogues of suitability embedded in raciolinguistic philosophies. The last chapter revisits the classroom and applies motivational teachers’ work to demonstrate the types of classroom teaching inferred by the theory and research deliberated in previous chapters. The chapter underscores the teachers’ role as information creators whose innovative practice, normally in equivalent collaboration with researchers, has unlocked important guidelines to confront forcible power ideologies and structures and to seal the opportunity gap suffered by minority social sets.
Cummins’s general objective in his manuscript is to encourage discourse and reverential argument regarding matters that are crucial to the learning of minoritized and multilingual learners. The evaluation of theoretical assertions as well as elucidation of the research aims to be positive and in the essence of serious conversation. Most of the critique in the book aims to answer critiques made concerning the theoretical concept explained in section one. Nonetheless, the other theoretical stances discussed in section two may be perceived as disagreements in the household. Every protagonist is devoted to antiracism and social fairness in education. All of them have used a bigger portion of their education lives so far, confronting educational and societal dominant systems that narrow learning chances for minoritized learners. Cummins (2021) argues that some protagonists, for instance, Garcia and the company, have generated an exceptional infrastructure for teamwork with teachers to change school-centered language practices and policies, aiming to allow minoritized learners to extend their multilingual ranges and establish the crucial multiliteracies which the societies desperately require.
Consequently, in combining this crucial and constructive discourse seeking social fairness, Cummins maintains that it is important to stipulate in ample detail as conceivable the educational directions inferred by different theoretical concepts. According to Cummins (2021), this entails expanding the conversation past the borders of scholarly journals and universities, passing disciplinary limits and epistemological beliefs, and embedding the discourses in communities’, learners’, and educators’ lives. The author argues that the individuals the researchers should involve with and pay attention to do not care if the researchers identify as psychologists, psycholinguists, sociologists, or sociolinguists, or if the researchers’ motivation originates from cultural studies, critical pedagogy, sociocultural concepts, critical race concept or some other countless cracks which split the educational realm. Moreover, these individuals are not concerned if researchers’ intellectual determinations are engrained in positivism, post-structuralism, post-modernism, or some other ‘-ism.’
Nonetheless, teachers are concerned fervently about their learners and the manner in which they involve them in influential learning. The educators are justifiably doubtful and frequently oppose the concepts behind the numerous educational cure-alls imposed on them each year by policymakers and often poorly informed politicians. Cummins (2021) claims that teachers tackle all theoretical concepts using very similar dominant queries. For instance, in what way can this concept enhance my learners’ academic progress? Or how does this concept relate to my teaching? Therefore, for theoretical notions to set in and cause an effect, they must be authenticated in situ by administrators, school heads, and teachers who partner in knowledge generation. Cummins (2021) argues that the household disagreements deliberated will not be solved in Twitter feeds or in academic articles. Nevertheless, the usefulness and credibility of certain theoretical notions on each side of the argument will gradually rise from classroom activity and the understandings of educators and other instructors who shape and engage with these notions.
In a nutshell, in Rethinking the Education of Multilingual Learners: A Critical Analysis of Theoretical Concepts, Cummins brings the readers along on an inspirational trip that lasts over four decades and provides an exceptional synthesis of a lifetime contribution and devotion in the arena of multi- and bi-lingual learning. The trip begins with a retroactive exploration of Cummins’s boundary-pushing and revolutionary theoretical proposition on the initial study of multilingual development in education and concludes with presentations of creative and innovative multilingual and cross-linguistic pedagogics. Collegial and courteous, the author differentiates between defendable complementary concepts and passionate but hypothetical untrue dichotomy. The solitary purpose of Cummins’s book is to direct teachers towards how best polyglot learners may learn and thrive if people were to guarantee social justice and equity. The author does not merely present his works of literature and notions, offering understandings into their geneses and development, but notably, he also responds to his critics. The book offers an informed evaluation of translanguaging, deliberating its criticisms and its strengths, and provides practical translanguaging notions for curriculum and classroom activities. This evidence-cantered, nuanced, and academic book is Cummins’s best contribution to the writings. The book is highly recommended for all stakeholders in education, for instance, teachers, students, school administrators, parents, and policymakers.
Calvert, L. (2016). The power of teacher agency. The Learning Professional, 37(2), 51.
Cummins, J. (2021). Rethinking the education of multilingual learners: A critical analysis of theoretical concepts. Multilingual Matters.
Dearden, R. F. (2011). Theory and Practice in Education (RLE Edu K) (Vol. 140). Routledge.
Jarvis, P. (2006). The theory and practice of teaching (Vol. 272). London: Routledge.
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