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Expert in the Spotlight in 2009: Jarmo Lainio

The goal of the Expert in the Spotlight feature is to give our web visitors a chance to get a personalised impression of experts in the field of regional and minority languages, small languages, immigrant languages, bilingualism and multilingualism, language learning, and education in Europe and the surrounding countries. The feature gives you the chance to interact one-in-one with our Ask the expert-section. It also provides interesting and insightful comments regarding the subjects mentioned above, in-depth content and exclusive Q and A’s.

Featured expert /Area of focus:

Jarmo Lainio is specialist on minority languages, educational linguistics, sociolinguistics, sociology of language, socio-dialectology, language policy, bilingual studies, didactics and Finnish studies.  He works as professor at the Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication, Division of Swedish and Finnish in Eskilstuna, Sweden. The Centre of Finnish Studies of the Mälardalen University is also one of the partners in the Mercator Network of Language Diversity Centres. He also works at the Stockholm University, Department of Baltic Languages, Finnish and German, Stockholm, Sweden.

If you have any questions on this months topics, Ask Jarmo!

Face to face with Jarmo Lainio

What is your background in the field of regional and minority languages / education / multilingualism?

If the scientific background is referred to: I studied Finno-Ugric languages and modern languages, and got acquainted with sociolinguistics in Uppsala, as well as research on bilingualism and bilingual education in Stockholm. Later on, I tried to combine these starting points. From a personal point of view, the assimilation of Finnish-speakers in Sweden, and the interest in social and democracy aspects concerning minorities and bilinguals added interest in the field. I have by now followed the field of especially bilingual studies and bilingual education for some thirty years.

What do you think is the major challenge in your field of work?

To combine the need to continue the work on maintaining cultural and linguistic diversity, on the one hand, and meet the challenges, on the other hand, created by the combination of political resistance to this, as well as the development of the paradigm of dynamics, heterogeneity, social constructivism and social practices in social and language sciences. In addition, according to my experience sciences connected to non-commercial studies on human conditions are increasingly under pressure.

What is one of the hottest new projects / items you are working on?

The so-called ELDIA –project (European Language Diversity for All; a fresh FP7-project), which will hopefully be officially launched in the fall. It consists of researchers from six countries, eight universities, and 14 language communities. It is coordinated by the Johannes-Gutenberg Universität Mainz. We prepared the application for close to two years.

Are there any important references such as articles, links, etc. you would like to mention?

I would rather say that there are directions of study that are crucial to the fields I am interested in. I still believe that the vast field of sociolinguistic research, most “critical”-paradigm and social science-related language studies, as well as the field often referred to as educational linguistics, have a bearing on my fields of interest.

How are you involved with the Mercator Network of Language Diversity Centres?

Through both long-term contacts and by following the activities of the Mercator offices earlier, and through revived recent direct contacts. The latter refer to some new initiatives, for example the Mercator Network itself, which the Centre for Finnish Studies at Mälardalen University is now a member of. Also the ENTTI network, which aims at bringing together researchers and practitioners in the fields of minority education and teacher training, as well as schools involved in these, is a promising work to follow up and participate in.

What are your expectations of your involvement within the Mercator Network?

To get further involved in its networks, to see researchers and cooperation projects develop within the fields of my interest, and to possibly add some new or not so well known dimensions to these, having a Nordic perspective. And finally, to get young researchers interested in the international dimension of this work.

Do you have any questions on these topics? Ask Jarmo!

Featured topic:

Our focus this month lies on bilingualism, minority language education and teacher training

Further reading:

Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden

Stockholm University, Department of Baltic Languages, Finnish and German, Stockholm, Sweden

Mercator Network of Language Diversity Centres, Ljouwert/ Leeuwarden, the Netherlands