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Expert in the Spotlight in 2011: Jasone Cenoz

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Featured Expert / Area of focus:

Professor Dr. Jasone Cenoz is working at the Department of Research Methods in Education, Faculty of Education at the University of the Basque Country, Donostia/San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain.

Prof. Cenoz’s  research focuses on the psycholinguistic, sociolinguistic and educational aspects of bilingualism and multilingualism. Her research interests include the effect of bilingualism on third language acquisition, bilingual and multilingual education, minority languages, the age factor, the linguistic landscape, pragmatic and phonetic competence and research methods in bilingualism and multilingualism.
She is a member of the Executive Committee of Aila (International Association of Applied Linguistics) and vice-president of the International Association of Multilingualism. She is editor (in collaboration with Ulrike Jessner) of the International Journal of Multilingualism (Routledge)

Face to face with Jasone Cenoz

What is your background in the field of regional and minority languages/education/multilingualism?
My academic background is in language studies. I did my Ph.D on the influence of bilingualism Basque-Spanish on the acquisition of English as a third language. I have carried out all my research in educational settings. I am Professor of Education in the Department of Research Methods in Education at the University of the Basque Country. I use Basque, Spanish and English on a daily basis both at work and at home. I teach courses through the medium of the three languages and I also publish in the three of them but mainly in English. Basque was my grandparents’ first language but my mother spoke only Spanish and that is the language we used at home. Now my son has Basque as his first language.

What do you think is the major challenge in your field of work?
There are many aspects of multilingualism that are exciting and challenging. Multilingualism is a complex phenomenon and it is related to cognitive, social and emotional factors. We know a lot more about multilingualism than in the past but we still need to know more about the way the multilingual mind works or the way multilingual speakers use their resources when using different languages. There is a very important tradition of bilingual education involving minority languages but we still have the challenge of making it better known for the general public. For example, new trends in language teaching such as CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) could learn a lot from the rich experience of bilingual programs involving minority languages.

What is one of the hottest new projects / items you are working on?
I am working on “Focus on multilingualism”, an approach to the study of language acquisition, language assessment and language use. This approach is holistic and looks at all the languages in the speaker’s linguistic repertoire so as to see the interaction between them and the way multilingual speakers use their languages as a resource in communication. “Focus on multilingualism” is closer to the language practices multilinguals get involved in everyday life outside school. In contrast, schools have traditionally built strong boundaries between languages. The results we have got so far help to look at multilingualism from a new perspective that could also have important implications for school contexts.

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

Cenoz, J. (2009) Towards Multilingual Education. Basque Educational Research from an International Perspective. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.


Cenoz, J. & Gorter, D. (2011, forthcoming) Towards a multilingual approach in the study of multilingualism in school contexts. Modern Language Journal (special issue)

International Journal of Multilingualism

Do you have any questions on these topics?

Ask Jasone

Featured topic
Our focus this month lies on multilingualism and education.