Raising Awareness through Virtual Experiencing (RAVE) Developing methods for revealing linguistic stereotyping using digital media
A common problem in professional education is the connection between so-called "factual knowledge" - eg theoretical frameworks and previous studies - and "internalised knowledge"; i.e. knowledge that can be put into practice and applied in everyday professional practice. Stereotyping, prejudice and bias is one such area. Here language is one of the most important factors that we judge when we form an opinion about each other. We also adapt our own language based on underlying norms and preconceived social stereotypes when dealing with others. For example, many studies show that people's accents affect how we assess their educational background, personality and intellect. Studies like these illustrate that we are not only judged on the basis of our own language usage, but that we probably judge others on the same merits (consciously or unconsciously). These are important insights in people-oriented educational contexts where we help to shape individuals through the way we approach them linguistically. A deeper understanding of these mechanisms is something that all educators should be equipped with.
RAVE approaches the challenge of finding methods for raising sociolinguistic awareness on matters related to language stereotyping among teacher trainees, and other professional programs, on all levels, with the aim that metalinguistic knowledge be translated into language awareness and practice. Methods build on digital matched-guise methods that give students a deeper understanding of conceived identity-related phenomena in language. The specific aims of the project include:
developing innovative methods using digital media for exposing subjects to their own linguistic stereotyping, biases and prejudices and to raise awareness of these,
and to systematically explore ways of testing the efficiency of these methods with the aim to develop an effective and reliable methods for raising language awareness related to linguistic stereotyping.
Methods include workshops, which are integrated in ordinary course frameworks. Here binary student groupings are unknowingly exposed to variants of the same recording of language output, which have been digitally manipulated for a specific social variable (gender for example). Students then evaluate the language output on a number of language and identity related criteria. Group differences in the evaluation are then used as a starting points for teacher-led group discussions and self-reflections. One further project aim is to synthesise our experiences, results and conclusions into an open-source pedagogical "package".