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A comparative study of Countering Violent Extremism through adult migrant language teaching and learning in Denmark and the UK.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CVELANG (A comparative study of Countering Violent Extremism through adult migrant language teaching and learning in Denmark and the UK.)

Reporting period: 2021-09-01 to 2023-08-31

CVELANG is a project about the changing paradigms of language learning in relation to migrants to move beyond civic integration to include aspects of CVE (countering violent extremism). The aim of CVELANG was to focus on two national contexts, Denmark and the United Kingdom, with differing approaches. Denmark has been implementing the controversial ‘ghetto’ policy which includes aspects of language development for children in those areas. The United Kingdom has used the ‘Prevent’ program in education for several years but little is known how this affects English language learners in the adult education which includes migrants.
The foundational work to the project centered on two main objectives: first, to gain an insight into the workings of the ghetto policy in Denmark (and to a lesser extent the UK) and second, to consolidate ethical procedures.

Beyond reading, it became clear that I had to build a network. I used this time to meet academics in Denmark to find out more about the impact of the ghetto policy. I also began meeting with lawyers and activists who are involved in the policy and this helped shaped a deeper understanding of the policy. The use of Danish language testing was very much unclear and it took several months of investigation to find out what test is used and how it used.

Had I have had time to continue working on the project, I would have examined how test was constructed and its social consequences. That is to say, how is the test is experienced by those whose children are tested and to what extent can it exacerbate pre-existent stigmatization and social inequalities.

In consultation with my supervisors, WP2 and WP3 were swapped so that I started fieldwork in Denmark rather than UK as this was logistically easier. I began obtaining interviews with individuals involved directly with the policy. Due to the time constraints, I was unable to conclude full fieldwork. Had a full fellowship been possible, I would have concluded this phase and then immediately moved onto the next WP. Then I would have still had sufficient time for analysis and writing.
During my short fellowship, I was able to share initial theoretical ideas with the Sociolinguistic Symposium in Ghent – one of the largest sociolinguistic conferences in the world. The feedback was unanimously positive to my ideas. I was also an invited speaker at Roskilde University (Denmark), Santa Monica College (USA), DeMontfort University (UK) University of Canterbury (New Zealand), the IMPECT citizenship project run by colleagues at the Western North University of Norway. This was an essential refinement of ideas which built on co-constructing theoretical approaches towards CVE and language education. One of the theoretical advances has been in collaborating with scholars in the UK and France around what we term ‘spatiolinguistic racialisation’ which looks at how the language practices of particular inhabitants are racialised as is the case in the ghetto policy and may well apply to others.

In addition, I co-edited a Special Issue of Discover Society led by the President of the British Sociological Association to discuss the inception of Prevent in the UK which was linked to a New York Times investigation. I was also interviewed on these issues for the Surviving Society podcast as part of their ‘Legacies of the War on Terror.’ In this short term, I was able to make visible the links between CVE and language. Had I had more time, I would have created a theoretical outlook on the national specificities of these issues within global similarities.

In the Danish cases, I believe that the project would have showed how testing rather than language classes inserts language policy within the ‘ghetto’ policy. This therefore creates intended approaches to dealing with assessment (also known as washback). This means that in order to deal with being assessed, learners learn accordingly. What is significant in the ‘ghetto’ policy is that children are influenced within the private sphere through ‘family language policy’. That is to say, families decide what language are used and spoken in the house. As such, these families would create family language policies that adhere to the ideals of the tests. The question then is between how heritage languages of families are balanced with the demand of Danish language requirements that align with the policy. This would create bottom-up understandings of integration.

In the UK case, I hypothesize that materials for citizenship agendas would be subsumed to incorporate Prevent requirements. This would make clear an explicit link between English language and British values. I also propose that teachers would have been somewhat concerned about the rise of anti-immigration rhetoric and sought to use the ESOL classroom as a protected space for students. In turn, the learners who have found ways of creating cohesive communities built within the educational spaces that resonated to their outside lives. By working together institutions, teachers and learners would demonstrate how communities are formed and in some respects, how integration is built on mutual respect.