1. Introduction – multilingualism in mainstream education policy frameworks2. The research context.3. Research methodologies and processes4. Some findings.5. Some conclusions and implications for research, policy and practice.
Understanding how the intersectionsand spaces between research, policyand practice influence the learningexperiences and contribute to thechallenges faced by bilingual learnersand teachers in primary education inEngland.
Mainstream education – unresolved questions about multilingualism Is being multilingual an asset, or is it a problem? Should we promote ‘additive multilingualism’ (e.g. providing pupils opportunities to use L1 in their learning, recognising and valuing languages they speak and write outside of school) Should we regard multilingualism as transitional, and something that is not really relevant for mainstream schooling
Historic contradictions in policy 1975 1985THE BULLOCK REPORT THE SWANN REPORT‘A language for life’ ‘Education for all’• Bilingualism an asset • ‘Equal access’• Cultural and social ideology aspects recognised • Separation of school• Moving towards and community ‘additive bilingualism’ • ‘Transitional bilingualism’
The National Curriculum - a ‘monolingualising’ curriculumSome key features underpinning language provision:• English as an ‘entitlement’, and a legal requirement, for all pupils• Concern with standard English, accent and dialect, rather than language diversity• Bilingual teaching and support are seen as important only until such time as pupils are confident in English (i.e. transitional, rather than additive bilingualism.
‘EAL’ as a barrier to learning – theNational Curriculum (2000) statement on inclusion: A minority of pupils will have particular learning and assessment requirements which … if not addressed, could create barriers to learning. These requirements are likely to arise as a consequence of a pupil having a special educational need or disability or may be linked to a pupil’s progress in learning English as an additional language.
I have never said, or implied, that lack of fluency in English was in any way directly responsible for the disturbances in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham in the summer of 2001. However, speaking English enables parents to converse with their children in English, as well as in their historic mother tongue, at home and to participate in wider modern culture. It helps overcome the schizophrenia which bedevils generational relationships. In as many as 30% of Asian British households, according to the recent citizenship survey, English is not spoken at home.(Blunkett, 2002:77; also Aitsiselmi, 2004)
Effects of ‘monolingualising’ in education – a personal viewIt was only after embarking on my degree that I beganto challenge my personal attitude towards my mothertongue and I started to make a conscious effort tobreak down the language barrier which years ofschooling had created between me and my parents.Only when I realised that my mother tongue deservesthe same respect as any other language did I begin tohave respect for my culture and feel a sense ofbelonging within my language community.Saiqa Riasat in Conteh, 2003: 139
• A sociocultural model of learning, in which activity theory (Daniels, 2004; Daniels et al., 2009; Roth and Lee, 2007) and the ‘funds of knowledge’ notion (Moll et al., 2001; Gonzalez et al., 2005) of community resources constructs learning as interwoven strands from school, home and community experiences.• Identity negotiation and performance as vital aspects of educational success (Cummins, 2001; Garcia, 2009), and identities as ‘produced and legitimised in discourse and social interaction’ (Blackledge and Creese, 2010)• Languages as ‘sets of resources called into play by social actors’ (Heller, 2007) in order to ‘make possible the social reproduction of existing conventions and relations as well as the production of new ones’, and language repertoires as ‘indexical biographies’ (Blommaert and Backus, 2011)
Linguistic ethnography: … bringing an ethnographer’s sensibility to the apparatus of linguistics and discourse analysis, treating it as as a set of ‘sensitising’ concepts suggesting directions along which to look rather than definitive constructs providing prescriptions of what to see ... … once the apparatus is epistemologically repositioned like this … then linguistics offers a very rich and emprically robust collection of frameworks for exploring the details of social life …Blommaert and Rampton, 2011:12
B LTA The BLTA Saturday classes Founded in 2002 by two newly-qualified, bilingual primary teachers.Aim to: – promote a ‘bilingual pedagogy’ to enhance children’s achievements in mainstream school. – address misconceptions about the role and value of ethnic minority childrens home languages both in school and home amongst parents, children, teachers and the wider community. – Provide a ‘safe space’ to promote childrens identities as bilingual learners and their self-confidence in taking control of their own learning. – Contribute to dialogue with policy makers regarding ‘bilingual pedagogies’.
... the historically accumulatedand culturally developed bodiesof knowledge and skills essentialfor household or individualfunctioning and well-being …Moll et al. 2001:133
When describing the language practices of bilingualsfrom the perspective of the users themselves, and notsimply describing bilingual language use or bilingualcontact from the perspective of the language itself, thelanguage practices of bilinguals are examples of whatwe are calling translanguaging…For us, translanguagings are multiple discursivepractices in which bilinguals engage in order to makesense of their bilingual worlds. Translanguagingtherefore goes beyond what has been termed code-switching, although it includes it, as well as other kindsof bilingual language use and bilingual contact’Garcia, 2009: 45
B LTA Evidence from research • Ongoing, longitudinal, co-research from 2003 onwards. • In 2011, a series of small-scale case studies, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, involving interviews with teachers and families, and observations in classrooms.
Performing identities through translanguaging – the children We had to count in fives, so I did it in my head in Punjabi then I said it out in English …. Eek, do, teen, cha … twenty-five … chey, saat, aat, nor …. Thirty …. Eek, do, teen, cha ….. thirty- five …(Sameena, aged 8)
Saiqa: The smallest number I can get is 1 and 1 and 1 is doh (two) . . . isn’t it? Saraya nal bara namber kai? (What is the biggest number you can get?)Ayisha: Baraa (twelve)Saiqa: Baraa . . . thako Ayisha sunee peeay na (Twelve . . . look, Ayisha is listening, isn’t she?) Baraa (Twelve) . . . because if I throw this dice, the two dice together, I can get six and six, can’t I? If I add them together chay tay chay melo thay baraa (six and six makes twelve). You are going to think of four numbers . . . chaar namber . . . koi vee meeki chaar deyo . . . jaray doh thay baraa nai darmeyan nah (four numbers . . . can you give me four numbers which are between two and twelve?)Farhat: Jamah karsa? (Are we adding?)Saiqa: Jamah karsa . . .meeki namber deyo (Are we adding. . . give me a number) . . . give me a number . . . doh namber deyo jayrey doh thay baraa nai darmeyan an (give me two numbers between two and twelve)Farhat: Paanj (Five)Saiqa: Paanj (Five) [writes on whiteboard] Tariq, thu meeki ik aur namber deyo jayra doh thay baraa nai darmeyan (Tariq, you give me one more number between two and twelve) That is between two and twelve . . . Koi vee namber deyo doh thay . . . (Can you give me a number between two and . . . )Tariq: FourSaiqa: Chaar . . . shabash! (Four . . . Welll done!) [writes on whiteboard] Saeed?Conteh, 2007a: 467
Evidence from case studies – a child’s views … when the teacher asks me to translate for someone who can’t understand, I feel proud … it feels like you’re helping somebody …. … I’d like to have more languages in school … … it’s hard to speak Punjabi because I can’t remember much ... I speak most of it to my dad(Shahid, aged 10)
A bilingual teacher’s viewsMy experiences as a bilingual learner allow meto empathise with children who feel the need to leavetheir home languages (thus part of their identity andculture) at home because they want to conform toschool’s expectations of them. However as a bilingual teacher I strongly promote abilingual approach to teaching and learning in myclassroom so that children can bring their homeexperiences and their complete identities to school.Furthermore, I like to share my experiences as abilingual learner and teacher with both mymonolingual and bilingual colleagues as a way ofaddressing misconceptions about bilingualismamongst teachers but also to show that a bilingualapproach to teaching is not exclusive to bilingualteachers only.
A mainstream teachers’ views• We’ve got different languages in this classroom, so we only allow them to speak English, to avoid any confusion and conflicts.• I was really impressed by the creativity involved … it’s a really good idea, what he’s been doing, he was telling me about the city you’re building … it’s doing him the world of good.
A parents’ views (1)• It’s good for my child to hear his teacher speaking Punjabi.• … speaking Punjabi helps them to interact with their grandparents … if we go back home now, they’ll pick up a lot.• We have been trying very hard to use Punjabi as our first language• He’s got a lot more confident in big school after coming to the classes.
A parents’ views (2)• She’s always said to me what a lovely time she’s had at the classes – she gets her lunch box ready the night before.• He loved the cooking classes … he wants me to teach him how to do atta at home.• I have noticed I would overlook opportunities, but now I try and motivate myself and my children.• I’ve learnt that understanding my family is very important.
Issues arising from the case studies related to mainstream schools• Dissonance in home and school cultures, particularly for KS1 pupils.• Differences in perceptions of the children by the complementary and mainstream teachers.• Mainstream teachers’ lack of knowledge of complementary classes, children’s languages, etc.• Policies in some schools actively discourage language diversity and multilingualism.
• Parents were surprised at our interest in their families’ home languages and this raised the profile of their home languages for them.• The feedback that parents got from their childrens teachers about their home languages strongly influenced the time they spent in promoting the home language with their children.• Parents were easily able to identify the disadvantages of low proficiency in their home language in the home setting, (e.g. limited conversation with family members who couldn’t speak English), but were unaware of the disadvantages it could have in mainstream classrooms.
• There is a need to continue developing research methodologies which recognise the different kinds of knowledge and power brought to the questions by all participants.• Bilingual teachers’ language and cultural knowledge are potential professional strengths which need fuller exploration.• There are potential benefits for all pupils in a system which recognises a sociocultural model of learning and supports additive, rather than transitional, bilingualism.