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Review of  The Languages of Africa and the Diaspora

Reviewer: Judith Buendgens-Kosten
Book Title: The Languages of Africa and the Diaspora
Book Author: Jo Anne Kleifgen George C. Bond
Publisher: Multilingual Matters
Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
Issue Number: 20.4408

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EDITORS: Kleifgen, Jo Anne; Bond, George C.
TITLE: The Languages of Africa and the Diaspora
SUBTITLE: Educating for Language Awareness
PUBLISHER: Multilingual Matters
SERIES: New Perspectives on Language & Education
YEAR: 2009

Judith Buendgens-Kosten, Department of Linguistics, RWTH Aachen University


''The Languages of Africa and the Diaspora: Educating for language awareness'' is
a collection of essays on language and education in Africa, the Caribbean and
North America. The volume grew out of a symposium on ''African & Diasporic
Languages and Education'' at Columbia University in 2006. It goes beyond a
conference proceedings, though, by including relevant research not presented
during the symposium. Articles cover the whole bandwidth from more theoretically
oriented papers to applied, hands-on suggestions for dealing with
language-related problems in specific educational settings.

The first part of the book discusses African and colonial languages within
Africa and their roles in education and language policy. The second part
addresses the use of languages from Africa or influenced by African languages
outside of Africa. Articles in this section focus on creoles in the Caribbean,
and on creoles and African American English (AAE) in the US in educational
contexts. Both parts are held together by introductions that highlight the
common ground between the contributions in each section. A general introduction
to the whole volume, written by Jo Anne Kleifgen, provides the common framework
within which these contributions can be seen.

After the section-introduction by George C. Bond, the first section starts off
with a contribution by Sinfree Makoni and Barbara Trudell, who discuss African
perspectives on linguistic diversity, followed by Casmir M. Rubagumya, who also
looks at Africa at large, discussing whether monolingual polices can work in
multilingual countries. The other authors in this section take a closer look at
specific countries. Peter C.K. Mtesigwa discusses Kiswahili in Tanzanian
education, Kate Parry looks at the role of libraries for literacy/ies in Liberia
and Uganda, and Susan E. Cook discusses the role that different standard and
non-standard varieties of Setswana play in South African classrooms.

The second part consists of nine contributions plus an introduction by Jo Anne
Kleifgen. Kleifgen discusses the notion of ''Creole exceptionalism'' as a concept
that unifies many contributions from that section, and which is discussed in
more detail in Michel DeGraff's article on ''Creole exceptionalism and the
(mis)education of the creole speaker'', the first contribution of this section.
Ellen M. Schnepel takes up the ''political and cultural dimensions of Creole as a
regional language in the Antilles'', and Shondel Nero looks at the effect that
language/social stratification has on the tracking/streaming of Anglophone
Caribbean students in Jamaica. The other articles focus on populations within
the US. Christa de Kleine writes about ''Sierra Leonean and Liberian students in
ESL programs in the US'', discussing language interference and the
appropriateness of ESL programs for speakers of creole languages with English as
the lexifier language. Doris S. Warriner looks at African refugee learners of
English, discussing the beliefs African women refugees hold regarding their own
language and English. Three articles in this section discuss AAE. First, John
Baugh discusses linguistic profiling in the US, focusing on discrimination in
housing. Then, Arthur K. Spears argues that shallow grammatical description can
foster ideas of exceptionalism. Finally, Walt Wolfram presents a language
awareness program that embeds discussion of AAE within that of local varieties
of English. Jon A. Yasin's article on the use of Hip Hop as an educational tool
closes this book.


The central ideas of this volume are language ideologies, the role of English
and African languages in education, and the critique of creole exceptionalism.
Since the book collects 14 contributions plus three introductory essays in less
than 300 pages, none of these topics is discussed in great detail. Instead, the
reader is introduced to a wide range of aspects involving these topics in a
variety of different settings.

The book is relevant for researchers interested in language policy, language and
education, English as second language/Standard English as second dialect,
language attitudes and creolistics. It will also be interesting for teachers
working with students with language backgrounds discussed in this book. Many
articles are accessible to students as well, and might serve as reading
assignments in (advanced) classes on language and education or on
sociolinguistics, especially for students studying to become teachers.

Judith Buendgens-Kosten is a doctoral candidate at RWTH Aachen University. Her research focuses on teachers' language attitudes and on folk beliefs about language and linguistics.

Format: Hardback
ISBN: 184769134X
ISBN-13: 9781847691347
Pages: 312
Prices: U.S. $ 139.95
U.K. £ 74.95

Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1847691331
ISBN-13: 9781847691330
Pages: 312
Prices: U.K. £ 29.95
U.S. $ 54.95