EDITORIAL WELCOME FOR VOLUME 1 ISSUE 1 (APRIL 2007)

It is a great pleasure and an honor to be writing an editorial welcome for the first inaugural issue of Novitas: Research on Youth and Language. I believe the publication of this new international journal is timely. Research and scholarship on youth, language and culture has been growing and gaining prominence both nationally and internationally. Over the last decades of the twentieth century, it evolved to cover a broad spectrum of areas devoted to youth, learning and teaching of foreign languages, linguistics, and cultural studies. More specifically, research is currently very active and growing in areas such as discursive construction of youth, personal, cultural and social development of youth identity, gender issues in education, use of media and technology in language learning, and curricula innovation in language education, among others, as evidenced by a number of existing academic journals and books in the field. The intersection of these themes and the desire to provide inter-disciplinary perspectives for an international audience have spurred the creation of this journal.

Judging from the response that greeted the announcement of the publication of Novitas-Royal, we believe it will promote the development of links between language related research and its application in education, professional and other language related settings. This venture was only possible with great support from the international community reflected by the diversity of our editorial board members and our current contributors, whom I would like to thank personally. 

As we enter a new millennium where internationalization increases, discourse on matters pertaining to the themes of this journal now merges and broadens our perspectives while providing valuable cross-fertilization of ideas and practices. Indeed, disciplinary border-crossings have become the order of the day in linguistics and language-related research (Larsen-Freeman, 1997) and are currently in a continued state effervescence. Reflecting this, the focus of this journal is multidisciplinary as it aims to cross disciplinary boundaries and add to the current body of knowledge in the areas of central concern to the  journal. These can be expressed as:

  • Youth and language
  • Discourse and discursive constructions
  • Foreign language teaching
  • Teaching culture and intercultural issues
  • Gender and language
  • Language education
  • CALL
  • Applied linguistics
  • Youth and curricula

Underpinning discussions on some of the abovementioned themes are the four articles contained in our first issue. These reflect the aims of our journal in many ways and aim to present the reader with glimpses of the wide range empirical research and theoretical debates currently being pursued by scholars in areas as vast geographically as Australia, Germany, Iran and the Unites States. All four papers cover absorbing topics and have contemporary currency.

The first paper by Marco Maglić is concerned with media education policy and  English language teaching in Germany. Maglić qestions the current politcal rhetoric and its adequacy for progressive language education. He sees tremendous potential for the integration of media literacy into foreign language classrooms and outlines practical steps that could be taken in order to achieve this, meriting consideration from both educators and policy makers alike. Insights gained from his paper will, no doubt, resonate to other educational contexts.

In the second paper, Nasrin Hadidi Tamjid explores the application of chaos and complexity theory, relatively new sciences to the field of second/foreign language education, and elucidates how these can revolutionize the way we view the learner and the language acquisition process. The author first traces the intriguing history of these theories and negotiates the interface between the scientific and social worlds. Making use of dynamic nonlinear systems found in natural sciences, he concludes that chaos and complexity theories provide a useful lense for looking at the phenomenon of the learner’s language development.

The third paper by Sultan Turkan and Servet Çelik outlines the significance and implications of integrating culture into EFL texts and classrooms in the Turkish context. As language and culture are inextricably linked, the analysis of their relationship in language learning materials is paramount. The authors elucidate some of the limitations of currently used EFL texbooks in Turkey, and show how fruitful the alignment of teaching language together with the target culture can be, by suggesting a number of creative, practical classroom activities.

Finally, Verna Robertson Rieschild reports an innovative empirical study on the factors of influence on Australian Arabic-background youth’s vernacular. The paper not only highlights the various social, gender, and educational factors impacting the development and use of Arabizi and Lebspeak, but acts as an indicator of a current emergent socio-linguistic phenomenon sweeping migrant second generation youth in Australia. The study demonstrates how language minority group members can use language features to express a non-mainstream identity, at the same time legitimizing strength in unity with their own group members.

The four papers in this issue reflect a tapestry of methodologically and ideologically diverse yet complementary studies. While the various fields of enquiry that will be covered by this journal are typically spawned by disciplines such as linguistics, language teaching and learning, gender and cultural studies, they have sometimes evolved into relatively closed competing paradigms. Researchers within these paradigms tend to avoid concepts and methodologies from neighboring disciplines that could potentially enrich one’s own perspectives. Indeed, methodological debates surrounding research tools, participatory structures, ethical dilemmas, as well as vehicles for report and dissemination are important sites for engagement (Candlin & Sarangi, 2004). Embracing our journal’s interdisciplinary nature, we recognize the potential of various inquiry techniques which can be carried across different fields, and aim to publish papers covering various theoretical and methodological research perspectives.

Our challenge for the journal now is threefold. The first, to embrace wider interdisciplinarity through the collaboration and integration of ideologically and methodologically diverse studies from respective fields. The second, to reflect good empirical and dissemination ethos, thus gaining the respect and standing as a new journal within the respective fields. The third, to be a pragmatically valuable resource not only to the academic community, but also teachers, youth workers and policy makers, among others.

To conclude, this journal is inspired by the recent exponential rise in interest in all matters related to youth, linguistics and language education, and culture. The truly international nature of our journal is reflected by the origins of our contributors and their articles which are included in this issue. We all have much to learn from each other, and interdisciplinary collaboration between different fields, countries and continents is now more possible than ever because of technological advancements which facilitate the dissemination of scholarly work electronically. Through this journal, we hope to establish a forum for lively professional discussion. We very much welcome your feedback on our inaugural issue and invite you to share your experiences and insights by writing both empirical and conceptual articles for further issues.

Eva Bernat
Associate Editor

Macquarie University , Sydney, AUSTRALIA

References:

Candlin, C. N., & Sarangi, S. (2004). Making applied linguistics matter. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 1(1), 1-8.

Larsen-Freeman, D. (1997). Impressions of AILA 1996. AILA Review, 12, 87-92.