Facilitating in a second language
I've been reflecting on my facilitation online in Portuguese, particularly on a workshop I recently finished. Online communication is almost entirely text-based so your literacies in another language are really brought into focus. This is what I observe about myself:
Time (I). It takes more than double the time to write anything. Full stop.
Time (II). Whereas in English I can reply quickly and without a second thought, in Portuguese I can't. Many messages (i.e. fine-tunings in the negotiation of meaning) go unsent because it takes too long to get round to writing even a brief message.
Non-happenings. What you write is what people see and what exists. What you don't write doesn't exist. Therefore a lot of things don't exist when you are doing something in a second language!
Tone. It is very difficult to get the tone right. The magic of facilitation comes in the subtle inflexions; how you say it is as important as what you say. It's very difficult to get the tone right in another language.
Social relations. Portuguese writing reflects the subtle and complex hierarchy of relationships between people and people's roles. I don't have a very good notion of my status in any language. While that doesn't matter when I'm operating in English (where the language is more equalising anyway), when I'm operating in Portuguese it adds another layer of newness for people already struggling with the strangeness of an online experience.
Risk-taking. The more fearful participants are about taking risks with the technology, the less confident I feel about taking risks or making mistakes with the language.
Identity. I'm still unclear about the ways this impacts on my identity, or my different identities in different languages, but I know it does.
Tags: multilingual, languages, reflections, identity