In 2010, psychologists Heinrich, Heine, and Norenzayan published a series of articles criticizing the over-representation of American students as subjects of psychological studies: they are 4,000 times more likely to be recruited for experiments than any other person not part of the Western academic system. Several studies comparing the results of these students to other samples show that they are by far not representative of the world population; on the contrary, their responses reflect particularities not found elsewhere. This tendency is also apparent in applied linguistics, where the most frequent subjects are students, a population used to taking tests and who often comes from the upper middle class.
A large population of second language learners has in fact not been studied even though their language development is often crucial: according to UNESCO, more than 281 million people, or 3.6% of the world, live abroad (2022)...yet few of them appear in our scientific publications.
Of course, it is easier to recruit students, and immigrant communities are often (justifiably!) reluctant to host researchers, but it would still seem wise to us, as researchers and educators, to do our best to reach out to language learners in precarious situations, for whom language development is both a challenge and a necessity.
This issue of Babylonia does not pretend to fill this gap, but it does contain a representation of some heritage languages by far not all, but it is a first step.
We hope you enjoy reading this issue!
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