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Expert in the Spotlight April 2014: Sabine Ehrhart

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Sabine Ehrhart is Associate Professor for ethnolinguistics at the University of Luxembourg and is teaching in the teacher education programmes of the University of Luxembourg. Her main research interests are: migrational linguistics and social implications of educational policies and her research approach is focused on an ecological approach to plurilingualism.

Sabine Ehrhart is an expert on language contact and educational policy in plurilingual settings. She received her PhD for her thesis on Creole Languages in New Caledonia from Augsburg University. In 2006 she gained her Habilitation on Language Contact in Natural and Institutional Settings with Sorbonne University, Paris.

In 2006 she created the LACETS group with the objective of creating a link between theory, research and school practices in the multicultural environment of Luxembourg. Sabine Ehrhart is also a member of the board of directors of Langscape (Networking the European Research Community on Language Acquisition and Language Learning) and of EOP (European Observatory for Plurilingualism).

In July 2010 she awarded a grant from AUF (Agence Universitaire pour la Francophonie) to teach language ecology to future secondary school teachers in Antanarivo, Madagascar.

Face to face with Sabine Ehrhart

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

Her work on the contact languages (or Creoles and Pidgins) of the South Pacific transcended the description of “new” languages from the point of view of the scientific community as she studied the patters and strategies of communication between partners of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds in order to find out how communication in highly complex and diverse settings can be improved. By doing this, she contributed to the discussion about social cohesion through education in natural settings by using family language policy and also in more institutional environments like schools. As to the educational sector, she widened her view in order to include other factors of diversity than the strictly linguistic ones, like social factors, the influence of the environment, or the cognitive and physical development of a person.

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

For Sabine Ehrhart, the projects that are particularly challenging are the ones combining innovative and action-based approaches of language acquisition and learning with a new paradigm of integrative and multiple teaching of languages and language awareness. She finds them relevant for the construction of the future of our societies and for peace-keeping and building up of sustainable relationships based on justice and acceptance of otherness.

She has already done quite a lot of research on kindergartens and primary schools and is presently concentrating more on secondary education and multilingual Universities.

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

Despite the omnipresence of multilingual communication in professional contexts, research has only very recently started to address the question of linguistic diversity management in the workplace. In two projects I am building up presently in Luxembourg and within the Greater Region, the approach of linguistic ecology gives the conceptual framework to tackle language diversity as a source of potential empowerment for all participants, and as a form of sustainable development for workplaces, bringing optimal benefit to all partners. The ecolinguistic framework, combined with a qualitative approach, can help us understand how language practices are influenced by the environment in which they occur and how they affect power relationships, knowledge sharing and thus also performance at the organisational level.

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

The book I edited on multilingualism from a dynamic (Luxembourgish) point of view:

Sabine Ehrhart, Europäische Mehrsprachigkeit in Bewegung: Treffpunkt Luxemburg / Des plurilinguismes en dialogue: recontres luxembourgeoises, Berne: Peter Lang, 2014 - 347 pages.
ISBN 978-3-0343-1400-8 br. (Softcover)
ISBN 978-3-0351-0665-7 (eBook)

The homepage of my University:

For publications and conference presentations please refer to:

Do you have any questions on these topics?

Ask Sabine