Ezekial Hale

Philosophy Statement - Language & Education Policy

I believe that learning is fundamentally a special type of social interaction. It is a reciprocal process and one that is inseparable from beliefs, attitudes, practices, and policies. My education style is anchored in sociointeractive methods and prioritizes a shared, positive learning experience. My approach combines what I’ve learned in different professional roles with what I am most drawn to in formal study and research: a synthesis of critical pedagogy, sociocultural theory, and communicative globalization. Despite a penchant for the psychologic and philosophic dimensions of language, my formal orientation is toward applied linguistics. Particular areas of focus include: multilingualism, literacies, intercultural pragmatics, language policy, and community language planning.

My first job as an educator was in an academic support program for newly-arrived refugee and immigrant students. Most of our learners spoke very limited English and many were processing destabilizing if not traumatic experiences of physical and cultural displacement. Against unfamiliar expectations and widespread prejudice, they navigated high-stakes obstacles like financial hardship and immigration crises. My peers and mentors were not just other educators, but also social workers, interpreters, and community organizers - working together to support learners more holistically.

Much of my work since has been with students whose home or community languages contrast with their current social setting. Studying how language and education policy intersect has helped me to unpack my own experience and that of my students. At times I feel that the term ‘language education’ is somewhat redundant. As both the medium of social interaction and the means of formal instruction, how can any education effort be separated from language? Language success builds social confidence, which leads to learning-autonomy and improved outcomes in general.

Despite having no ‘official language’, the status-quo in US education favors one register of one language above all others: a hyperliterate academic subdomain of English. Consequently, minority-language and even multilingual students often experience reduced effectiveness and inequitable outcomes, with a causal link to the social nature of learning. For the benefit of our students, I believe we must challenge policies that reinforce economic disparity and enable prejudicial attitudes. Our methods should validate learners’ prior experience and promote intercultural awareness. 

I aspire to recognize other perspectives and how they may contrast with my own. My goals are centered around continuing to expand my language and culture repertoire so that I can understand where more learners are coming from. I think that these convictions can benefit everyone with a stake in education, but they are indispensable when working with disadvantaged students. People do not learn positively in a negative environment.

An intercultural and crosslinguistic basis for interaction helps us to connect with one another and to grow into a more pluralistic and equitable society. Personally, I love learning and am happiest when I can learn something from someone while teaching them something in return. Professionally, I hope to join education stakeholders from many different backgrounds in strengthening a multilingual community of practice, with programs and policies that reflect the sociocultural complexity of the communities we serve.

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