LINCDIRE, LINguistic and Cultural DIversity Reinvented, aims at maintaining and fostering language and cultural plurality by providing an online environment for language teachers and students to explore and experience plurilingual and holistic approaches to language teaching and learning.
The foundation underpinning LINCDIRE rests on four key pillars:
- Indigenous Epistemologies;
- Language Methodology Innovation;
- and Technology-Mediated Learning.
Plurilingualism is a fundamental trait of a world characterized by mobility and change (Piccardo, 2013). A plurilingual approach sees linguistic competences as entwined and interrelated to form a dynamic and composite competence, allowing students to develop more effective learning strategies using all the linguistic and cultural tools at their disposal (Coste, 2014; Coste, Moore & Zarate, 2009; Council of Europe, 2001). Students’ home languages and cultures are acknowledged and valued in the learning activities, essential to easing the integration of students coming from migrant families into schools and society (Boix-Mansilla & Jackson, 2011; Cummins, 2007). In addition, the awareness-raising process that plurilingualism fosters helps students to broaden and diversify their linguistic and cultural profile in a life-long learning process.
“Blackfoot people have their own systems for developing new knowledge in traditional ways. It’s less focused on categories and more interested in how things come together.” (Ryan Heavy Head, 2007). In an attempt to integrate the holistic perspectives of indigenous epistemology where “All things, material and spiritual, are interconnected and interdependent in a circular pattern of the cycles of nature” (Leik, 2009, p.19), LINCDIRE’s pedagogy is based on the Medicine Wheel, a key symbol in Indigenous cultures and central to the spirituality and sacred practices of First Nations peoples. In this framework, the learner is seen holistically in different stages of maturity (childhood, adolescence and adulthood) as a thinking, verbal and non-verbal, emotional and spiritual human being rooted in the values of her/his plurilingual and pluricultural communities. LINCDIRE integrates this inclusive perspective to guide learning through each of the quadrants of the Medicine Wheel, whether in the instructional design of learning tasks or the LITE (Language Integration through E-portfolio) architecture that students use to reflect on their learning.
LINCDIRE proposes an innovative and creative vision for language education, based on principles of inclusion and interconnection. The action-oriented approach (Council of Europe, 2001, Piccardo & North in press), placing students in the reality of our linguistically and culturally diverse society, becomes “the vehicle through which plurilingualism and the Medicine Wheel can be integrated into classroom practice” (Cho et al. 2018). Students become agents in their learning and engage in meaningful real-life situations to which they learn to respond in a wholly cognitive, emotional, and spiritual manner. The process of language learning is organized around scenarios that imply students to accomplish real-life tasks and produce significant artifacts.
“Linguistic diversity and emerging forms of linguistic and cultural expression thrive in our increasingly digital world” (Ortega, 2017). Technology and social media have a vital role to play in revitalizing Indigenous and Heritage languages. Central to the LINCDIRE project is the development and implementation of a Language Integration Through E-portfolio (LITE) allowing for individual and collaborative learning. LITE’s unique structure reflects LINCDIRE’s holistic and plurilingual approach to language education. With an architecture inspired by the Medicine Wheel, this e-portfolio allows for a plurilingual, task-based approach that structures work around action-oriented tasks, encourages the use of existing resources in different languages, scaffolds literacy practices in students’ first language(s), enables collaborative work among students of different languages and cultures, and facilitates reflective and lifelong learning.