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Mela Sarkar

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Over the past decade, multiethnic mixing in Montreal schools has resulted in the development of a unique local form of Hip-Hop culture that draws on the many languages and cultures found in Quebec’s mostly French-dominant young adult population. Rap lyrics, the textually rich poetic form associated with Hip-Hop, always reflect the language use of the communities the rappers come from. Through creative reinvention of language, members of Montreal’s Hip-Hop community are enacting new, hybrid identities that are spreading to other parts of Quebec and extending the range of identity options available for all Québécois.

Research Area 2: The Linguistic Integration of Young Immigrants into the French Majority-Language School System in Montreal

Montreal’s Francophone school system is responsible for educating most of Quebec’s children of immigrant origin, who will soon account for more than half of the school population in Montreal. As Allophones (whose mother tongue is neither English nor French), these students require sensitive pedagogical intervention if they are to learn the majority language, Quebec’s only official language, well enough to succeed in school. The language learning needs of this population are an under-researched area of vital social importance.

Research Area 3: Design and Implementation of Multicultural/Intercultural Education Policy in Quebec and its Effects on Vulnerable Populations

The combination of Quebec’s French-promoting language legislation and the demographic changes that have made Montreal a major multilingual, multicultural metropolis have resulted in the creation of intercultural education policies that are intended to address potential areas of conflict, but that have not been successful. The effects of these policies need to be further examined, in light of the considerable costs involved in their formulation.

Research Area 4: Revitalization of Endangered Languages in Indigenous Communities

My work to date has focused on language use and empowerment in Montreal minority-language communities of immigrant origin, where first language maintenance and second language learning would ideally go hand in hand, rather than the immigrant language being lost, as so often happens. The critical applied linguistics perspective I have developed, faced with the challenges of researching the linguistic exclusion and marginalization faced by newcomers to Montreal, is equally applicable in indigenous language contexts, where the minority languages are in fact at risk of extinction if communities stop passing them on to new generations. I was very pleased to be invited to be Principal Investigator on a new research team made up of faculty members from McGill’s Department of Integrated Studies in Education and members of the Mi’gmaq community (specifically the Education Directorate) in Listuguj, Quebec. Janine Metallic of the Mi’gmaq community approached McGill to ask us to develop a collaborative research initiative around innovative Mi’gmaq language pedagogies designed to revitalize the native language, which is currently in decline and spoken fluently only by older community members. This project will have as its goal the development of fluency in Mi’gmaq among younger members of the Listuguj community and will aim to build up a self-sustaining momentum in the acquisition and use of Mi’gmaq in wider community (rather than just classroom) contexts. I hope that this project will be the first of many initiatives allowing me to work with indigenous communities and their languages.

The language and culture of my heritage is passed on to me orally. it's a different way off learning than how I am taught at school. How do I keep my traditional culture alive while learning to read and being immersed in the majority culture?

Reading is the core of learning and staying in school . improving reading skills with young Aboriginal children can open up the doors to future prospects.

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