Kara D. Brown (South-Carolina): ‘‘Daylighting' teachers' language skills for pre-primary level initiatives”

On December 13, Kara D. Brown, associate professor of educational studies at the University of South-Carolina, will give a TÜling talk at the University of Tartu. Below is the abstract of the talk “‘Daylighting' teachers' language skills for pre-primary level initiatives: An analysis of teachers' reflections on their Võro, Estonian, and Russian abilities, kindergarten needs, and language support for Võro Language Nest and Dual Language Immersion Kindergarten Programs”. Everyone is welcome to attend the lecture at 16:00 at Jakobi 2-427. Find this semester's TÜling schedule here.


The burying of language diversity in schools through repressive policies and practices is an all too familiar global phenomenon. In an effort to understand the efforts to redress this “burying” and to advance educational environments supportive of multilingualism, I embrace the metaphor of daylighting – the contemporary urban practice of uncovering long-hidden waterways to restore and rehabilitate ecological diversity for collective betterment. The concept of “linguistic daylighting,” derived from this metaphor, refers to the process of revitalizing, or supporting, linguistic diversity in schools by removing a range of obstructions (such as laws, policies, and policies), which suppressed and/or obscured multilingualism in the spaces of public education. Daylighting, through thoughtful planning, support, and funding helps to create a socio-/cultural ecosystem supportive of a thriving multilingualism.

Part of a larger, ongoing research project on linguistic daylighting in the public schools in the U.S. Southeast, this presentation takes up this concept in the Estonian context through an examination of recent efforts at the pre-primary level to support multilingual educational environments. In particular, I consider the ways two daylighting efforts – the Võro Language Nest and the Dual Language Immersion Kindergarten Programs – center and depend upon the existing language abilities of “in-house” (i.e., already employed in that kindergarten) teachers. These kindergarten teachers’ abilities in Võro and Russian, though never before tapped for pedagogical programs, have been daylighted and proven to be a central, yet time-sensitive resource in these initiatives.

In this talk, after introducing the linguistic daylighting concept, I will share my analysis, based largely on interview data collected from 2013-2019, of these teachers’ essential linguistic resources. I consider key episodes of language “burying” in their lives given the complex historic role of schools in suppressing, or supporting, their language use as well as the consequences of family language policy. I also examine the teachers’ experience of daylighting including their reflections on language ability and the role of support from the larger kindergarten collective, class parents, and initiating institutions (e.g., Võro Institute and Innove). I conclude with thoughts on the time-sensitive nature of these daylighting projects as well as the unfinished business of linking daylighted kindergartens with basic school programs.