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This paper presents data from two studies – a nationwide quantitative research and an ethnographic study – on Greek schoolteachers' attitudes towards immigrant pupils' bilingualism. The quantitative data come from a large-scale questionnaire survey, which aimed at the investigation of the needs and requirements for the implementation of a pilot programme teaching migrant languages in Greek state schools. The findings provide an updated comprehensive view on how Greek teachers perceive their pupils' bilingualism and the inclusion of their heritage languages in the state school. Complementing and enhancing the quantitative data, the analysis of four teachers' semi-structured interviews, which were conducted in the context of the ethnographic study, provides insights into their language ideologies, which underlie their language views and school practices.
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‘Invisible’ bilingualism – ‘invisible’
language ideologies: Greek teachers'
attitudes towards immigrant pupils'
heritage languages
Anastasia Gkaintartzia, Angeliki Kiliarib & Roula Tsokalidoua
a Department of Early Childhood Education, Faculty of Education,
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
b Department for German Language and Literature, Faculty of
Philosophy, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki,
Published online: 28 Jan 2014.
To cite this article: Anastasia Gkaintartzi, Angeliki Kiliari & Roula Tsokalidou (2015) ‘Invisible’
bilingualism – ‘invisible’ language ideologies: Greek teachers' attitudes towards immigrant pupils'
heritage languages, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 18:1, 60-72, DOI:
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Invisiblebilingualism –‘invisiblelanguage ideologies: Greek
teachersattitudes towards immigrant pupilsheritage languages
Anastasia Gkaintartzi
*, Angeliki Kiliari
and Roula Tsokalidou
Department of Early Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, Aristotle University of
Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece;
Department for German Language and Literature, Faculty of
Philosophy, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
(Received 10 July 2013; accepted 11 December 2013)
This paper presents data from two studies a nationwide quantitative research and an
ethnographic study on Greek schoolteachersattitudes towards immigrant pupils
bilingualism. The quantitative data come from a large-scale questionnaire survey,
which aimed at the investigation of the needs and requirements for the implementation
of a pilot programme teaching migrant languages in Greek state schools. The findings
provide an updated comprehensive view on how Greek teachers perceive their pupils
bilingualism and the inclusion of their heritage languages in the state school.
Complementing and enhancing the quantitative data, the analysis of four teachers
semi-structured interviews, which were conducted in the context of the ethnographic
study, provides insights into their language ideologies, which underlie their language
views and school practices.
Keywords: Greek teachers; bilingualism; immigrant pupils; heritage language
Mass immigration in Greece, which started in the early 1990s, has dramatically changed
the student population of mainstream schools, making it a necessity for the official
educational system to address issues of multicultural and intercultural approaches.
However, the actual bilingualism of migrant background children in Greek schools still
remains highly invisible, as our latest research findings show, not only because of
the exclusion of migrant languages from the school curriculum and but also due to the
dominant school language attitudes, which are largely driven by the pervasive
monolingual ideology and its deficit discourse (Gkaintartzi and Tsokalidou 2011).
The context of immigration to Greece and educational policies
Greece has been transformed into a destination country for immigrants mostly coming not
only from the former socialistic countries of Europe but also from Asia (China, Pakistan,
etc.) and, most recently, from African countries. Albanians constitute the largest
immigrant group amounting to 57.5% of the registered immigrant population in Greece
(Lyberaki and Maroukis 2005). This influx of immigrants has been reflected in the Greek
school population, which has dramatically changed with the arrival of children, mostly
*Corresponding author. Email:
International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 2015
Vol. 18, No. 1, 6072,
© 2014 Taylor & Francis
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from neighbouring Balkan countries and countries of the former Soviet Union. According
to most recent official figures from the Greek Ministry of Education, in the school years
20112012, 12.27% of the pupils attending primary school was immigrants and
repatriated Greeks, the majority of whom were of Albanian background (78.5%). In
secondary education, immigrant and repatriated pupils amounted to 8.74% of which
78.4% were of Albanian origin (see Table 1).
The official educational policies addressing the issue of multiculturalism in Greek
schools, initially applied in the early 1980s, involved Reception and Support (or Tutorial)
classes in mainstream schools (Law 1404/1983). These classes operated in the rationale
of rather compensatory measures, aiming mainly at the intensive teaching of the Greek
language, regardless of the pupilslinguistic and cultural background (Damanakis 1997;
Dimakos and Tasiopoulou 2003). Up to the beginning of the 1990s, the educational
policies and practices addressing immigrant pupils in Greece functioned in the context of
the deficithypothesis, treating their home languages as a problem, which requires
immediate treatment(Damanakis 1997). In 1994, a ministerial decision was put forward
offering the possibility of the introduction of the pupilsheritage languages and cultures
in these classes, which was, nevertheless, not implemented in practice (Kiliari 2005;
Gogonas 2007). Thus, educational provisions in such classes remained oriented towards
the linguistic and cultural assimilation of immigrant pupils (Skourtou, Vratsalis, and
Govaris 2004).
In 1996, Law 2413/96 was issued with the title Greek Education Abroad, Intercultural
Education and Other Provisions, which regulates matters regarding the provision of Greek
language education to the Greek Diaspora and intercultural education in Greece. Thus
26 intercultural schoolswere established with the aim to provide education to young
people with a specific educational, social or cultural identity(the Ministrys translation).
These schools were mostly attended by immigrant pupils (not of Greek-origin pupils) who
were confined in an inadequate environment, providing some kind of specialeducation,
thus preventing intercultural exchange and mutual understanding (Mitakidou and
Daniilidou 2007). The legislation currently in place has not ensured the kind of policies
that would permeate the whole educational system, enhancing pupilsawareness and
acceptance of cultural diversity among them (Mitakidou, Tressou, and Daniilidou 2007;
Mitakidou and Daniilidou 2007; Damanakis 1997). Educational provisions for immigrant
children include mainly the teaching of Greek as a second language in Reception or Support
classes (Mitakidou and Dannilidou 2007; Dimakos and Tasiopoulou 2003).
Apart from the Reception and Support (or Tutorial) classes and the lenient grading of
pupils with difficulties in the Greek language, there are no other directives from the
Ministry of Education. All in all, the Greek educational system has, therefore, been
criticised for its ethnocentrism (Frangoudaki and Dragonas 1997; Katsikas and Politou
1999) and monolingual orientation (Kiliari 2005), showing neglect for the pupils
Table 1. Foreign and repatriate pupils in the Greek school (data from the Greek Ministry of
education (%)
education (%)
Total in
education (%)
20112012 12.27 (78.5% pupils of
Albanian origin)
8.74 (78.4% pupils of
Albanian origin)
10.62 (8.34% pupils of
Albanian origin)
International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 61
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cultural, religious and linguistic diversity. The ministerial decision (Φ10/20/Γ1/708/7-9-
1999) provides for the establishment of classes where immigrant pupils could be taught
the language and culture of their country of origin as part of their school curriculum.
Specifically it is stated that lessons for the language and culture of the childrens country
of origin are optional and classes may be established in schools on condition that there is
a sufficient number of pupils (i.e. 715 pupils). Lessons are up to four hours per week,
provided the class has a full schedule.
However, in practice, this measure has never been implemented in state schools
(Kiliari 2005). So far the authorities have claimed that the reason for not introducing such
a measure is the lack of interest shown by immigrant parents who do not want their
children to attend mother tongue classes for fear that this may interfere with their
childrens effort to acquire Greek (Mitakidou, Tressou, and Daniilidou 2007). These
concerns are related to misconceptions regarding bilingualism and language development,
which are maintained and reproduced by the ideology of monolingualism. The inclusion
of migrant languages in the official school curriculum has broader ideological and
political dimensions reflecting the ideology of Modern Greek as a regime language
(Moschonas 2004), which permeates Greek school education. The prevailing perception
in the official discourse on the maintenance of migrant languages pertains to a human right,
which does not concern the Greek school, transferring thus the responsibility of teaching
and learning their languages to immigrant groups themselves (Kiliari 1997,2005).
The Greek Ministry of Education has launched the programme entitled Education of
Foreign and Repatriate Pupils,
aiming at training both mainstream and intercultural
schoolteachers and making classroom interventions, as well as at the connection between
school and parents/communities. The quantitative research discussed in this article was
conducted as part of this programme and aimed at the investigation of the needs and
requirements for teaching the heritage languages of foreign and repatriate pupils in Greek
state schools.
Greek teachersattitudes towards bilingualism: literature review
Research on Greek teachersviews towards the presence of immigrant pupils in their
classrooms has revealed that teachers mostly focus on the learning difficulties and
inclusion/adaptation problems these pupils face (Skourtou, Vratsalis, and Govaris 2004;
Skourtou 2002; UNICEF 2001; Bombas 1996). The majority of teachers reveal they feel
unprepared to deal with issues of diversity in their classrooms and testify their need for
further training (Skourtou, Vratsalis, and Govaris 2004; Skourtou 2002). According to
research data (Dragona, Skourtou, and Frangoudaki 2001; Skourtou 2011; Tsokalidou
2012), teachers are often unaware of their pupilscultural background and their heritage
languages, treating non-native bilingual children as monolingual in everyday teaching
practice, which reveals the lack of recognition for language diversity. They also
commonly refer to them as alloglossa pedia(i.e. other-languagespeaking children),
a term which has been criticised for its negative connotations (Tsokalidou 2005). In fact,
immigrant childrens bilingualism remains largely invisiblein the Greek state school
(Tsokalidou 2012; Gkaintartzi and Tsokalidou 2011). Although the majority of teachers
reveal positive attitudes towards bilingualism and the maintenance of immigrant pupils
heritage languages, they consider it as a right and a responsibility of immigrant groups
exclusively, which is, nevertheless, not related to school language learning (Skourtou,
Vratsalis, and Govaris 2004). According to several studies (Gogonas 2007; Mitakidou
and Daniilidou 2007; Kassimi 2005; Skourtou 2002), Greek teachers tend to advise
62 A. Gkaintartzi et al.
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parents to speak only Greek at home, since they consider the other language as an
obstacle to school language learning, which hinders second-language development,
especially when referring to low-prestige languages. Their views and practices reveal the
orientation towards languages as a problem, mainly as far as school language learning is
concerned (Ruiz 1984). It seems that they are not aware of any positive influence of the
pupilsfirst languages on their second-language development and their language views
and practices reflect the ideology of monolingualism. They reveal rather contradictory
stances on the issue of home language use and development (Mitakidou and Daniilidou
2007), while the inclusion of immigrant pupilsheritage languages in the Greek school
curriculum remains a highly debated issue. Greek schoolteacherslanguage ideologies,
which are overtly or covertly reflected through their language practices, attitudes and
discourse concerning bilingualism and school learning, contribute to the exclusion of
heritage languages from the Greek school and to the legitimacy of the Greek language as
the one language for all(Gkaintartzi 2012).
The quantitative research
The quantitative research aimed at investigating the main question which was placed by
the Greek Ministry of Education with regard to the needs and conditions (the Ministrys
translation) for teaching the heritage languages of foreign and repatriate pupils who attend
Greek state schools in primary and secondary education.
Specifically, the needs and
wishes of foreign and repatriate pupils and their families were traced concerning the
support of their heritage language through courses in the state school as well as the views
and attitudes of Greek teachers in primary and secondary education.
The research was
nationwide and was conducted with written questionnaires throughout the school years
2010/11 and 2011/12. The first phase was completed in June 2011 (school year 2010/11)
and the second at the beginning of December 2011 (school year 2011/12).
Regarding the notion heritage language, we use the term to refer to all languages
other than the socially dominant one, i.e. Greek, which are the home languages of
immigrants pupils and which have a particular family relevance to the learner, following
Fishmans definition (2001, 81). Thus we refer to the heritage languages of immigrant
pupils who are raised in families where languages other than Greek are spoken and who
have a (cultural) connection with these languages. The term was used as such in the
questionnaires administered to the pupils and the teachers. The participant pupils had no
difficulty in understanding the term, identifying their own heritage languages and the
skills they possess in them and they could formulate their own wish for the further
development of these languages. Likewise, the participant teachers responded to the
questions which used the term heritage languagereferring to the home languages of
their immigrant background pupils.
The data from the target groups were collected through the use of written questionnaires.
The collection of data was preceded by a pilot study which led to the rephrasing of certain
questions. The researchers who conducted the collection of the data were given explicit
written guidelines. They were asked to keep a specially designed research journal. Below
are presented some core questions of the questionnaire (translated from Greek to
International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 63
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(1) When the immigrant pupils know and speak their heritage languages at home,
do you think that:
.This practice hinders the effective and rapid learning of the Greek language
.This practice facilitates the learning of Greek
.This practice does not affect Greek language learning
.It depends on the home language
.Other answers
(2) Do you think that the heritage languages of immigrant pupils should be taught in
the state school? Yes No
(3) If yes, in what ways should the support of these languages in your opinion
function in the state school?
.In the morning, integrated into the school timetable Yes No
.At midday, after school classes Yes No
.In the afternoon Yes No
.On Saturday Yes No
.On Sunday Yes No
(4) If not, do you think that the support of heritage languages is a matter which
concerns immigrant communities exclusively and that they should cater for it on
their own? Yes No Dont know / No answer
In total 5373 questionnaires have been collected from the first and second phase of the
research. Of these 2875 come from foreign and repatriate pupils, 1676 come from foreign
and repatriate parents and 822 from teachers of all levels. Convenience sampling was
used for the selection of the teacherssample, i.e. we collaborated with those who wanted
to work with us based on our own initial pre-selection of the schools, which participated
in the research programme. The analysis of the data provided in the questionnaires was
conducted with databases especially designed for the needs of the research. The statistical
analysis was carried out with the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) 20.
Below, we present the profile of the teachers who took part in the research.
Eight hundred and twenty-two questionnaires were collected from teachers of all levels of
education. The majority of teachers (76.2%) were 3655 years old. More women (66.6%)
than men answered the questionnaires. The majority of the teachers who took part in the
research (46.3%) teach in primary education and the smallest percentage in pre-school
education even though a lot of immigrant children attend kindergarten school. The
teachers who teach in upper secondary schools (Lyceum) are also certainly less than those
who teach in lower secondary schools (Gymnasio) since foreign and repatriate pupils in
upper secondary schools are also less due to high school dropout rates (Table 2).
In Table 3, we can observe that a considerable number of the participant teachers
(7.7%) were school directors, whereas the majority of them were specialty teachers who
teach subjects such as foreign languages, Physical Education and Music in primary
schools. The fact that specialty teachers only spend 23 hours a week with their
(immigrant or Greek background) pupils is compensated for by their years of teaching
experience as a whole. In Table 3, we can also notice that the kindergarten teachers who
completed the questionnaires were very few, as those who participated were located in
primary schools. Both sets of data (the quantitative and the qualitative which focus on
64 A. Gkaintartzi et al.
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primary school and kindergarten teachers) reveal that Greek teachersattitudes and views
revolve around a common axis.
The participant teachers were experienced in the field of immigrant student education
since they all had an important percentage of immigrant background pupils in their
classes (Table 4).
Teachers views towards the heritage languages of immigrant pupils
It is interesting that 48.2% of teachers believe that the knowledge of immigrant pupils
heritage languages hinders the learning of the school language (i.e. Greek) (see Table 5).
Table 2. Levels of education.
Level of education Percentage (%)
Kindergarten 2.2
Primary school 46.3
Lower secondary school (Gymnasio) 37.8
Upper secondary school (Unified Lyceumand technical vocational schools) 13.7
Table 3. Participant teachersposition.
Teachersposition Percentage (%)
Kindergarten teacher 2.8
Primary school teacher 37.1
High school teacher 52.7
Primary school director 4.5
Lower secondary school director 2.0
Upper secondary school director 0.9
Table 4. Percentage of foreign and repatriate students pupils in class.
Foreign and repatriate in class (%) Percentage (%)
1030 64.9
4060 19.5
70100 15.5
Table 5. Knowledge of the heritage language.
Hinders the effective and rapid learning of the Greek language 48.2%
Facilitates the learning of Greek 13.2%
It does not affect the learning process 26.5%
It depends on the heritage language 8.6%
Other answers 3.3%
International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 65
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Only a relatively small but still considerable percentage (13.2%) think that the childrens
bilingualism is an advantage for the more effective and faster learning of the Greek
language. Roughly a quarter of the teachers (26.5%) answered in an indifferent manner,
expressing the view that learning Greek is not affected either positively or negatively.
Finally, there also exist a number of teachers (8.6%) who believe that bilingualism can
constitute both an advantage and a disadvantage, depending on the childrens first
We believe that the teachersviews reveal the strategies they follow in their
classrooms in order to reinforce the learning of Greek, as well as to support, in some
way, the pupilsheritage languages. On a first level of analysis, we could deduce that
with the exception of those who would follow strategies for the encouragement of both
languages, since they consider bilingualism as an advantage for the more effective and
rapid learning of the Greek language, the overwhelming majority of teachers (86.8%)
would support the learning of Greek in any way, but they would be indifferent at best to
the maintenance of the pupilsheritage languages.
However, the picture that the teachersresponses in Table 6 give us is not precisely
the same regarding the teaching of heritage languages. Concerning the question whether
they believe that immigrant pupilsheritage languages should be taught in the state
school or not, a little more than half of the teachers (54.8%) responded that it would be
positive to teach immigrant pupilsheritage languages in state schools. However,
regarding the question whether or not this issue concerns immigrant communities
exclusively, 52.5% of them stated that it is a matter which involves mainly the immigrant
communities. Responding to the ways they think heritage language teaching should
function in the state school, the overwhelming majority of the teachers (79.2%) believe
that such classes should take place after the regular daily school schedule.
Drawing from the quantitative data we can conclude that a large number of teachers
have doubts about their pupilsbilingualism and its further encouragement in the state
school (Table 5). On the other hand, we observe that the majority of them are positive
towards the support of the heritage language in the state school, since they believe that
immigrant pupils have the right to develop their heritage languages, even though they do
not seem to be convinced of the positive educational outcomes attached to them. For this
reason only a small percentage of teachers consider bilingualism as an advantage for the
pupils themselves. We believe that the analysis of the qualitative data below can give us
further insight into the teachersviews and ambivalences towards their immigrant pupils
Table 6. Teachersviews about the teaching of heritage languages.
Teaching heritage
languages in state
schools (%)
After the regular
daily school
schedule (%)
Heritage language is a matter of
concern for the
communities (%)
Yes 54.9 79.2 52.5
No 45.1 20.8 31.6
Do not know/
do not
–– 15.9
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The qualitative study
The qualitative study discussed below aimed at investigating four teacherslanguage
views and practices in order to bring to the surface the underlying language ideologies
concerning bilingualism. It was part of a broader qualitative ethnographic research
investigating the language views and practices of 19 preschool and primary school pupils
of Albanian background as well as the views and attitudes of their parents and their
teachers concerning the childrens bilingualism (Gkaintartzi 2012). Selecting a qualitative
interpretive methodology in order to study the research questions, we used the
ethnographic methods of participant observation within the school context, semi-
structured (individual and group) interviews with the children, their teachers and their
parents as well as informal interviews with the participants in the field. In the following
section, we present the methodology and the research findings concerning the teachers
language views and attitudes.
The research aims
The aim of the study was to trace the teacherslanguage ideologies by investigating their
views and practices towards:
.the presence of immigrant pupils in class
.immigrant pupilsbilingualism and home language maintenance
.bilingualism and school language learning
.the use of the Albanian language among children in the Greek state school
.the teaching of the Albanian language.
Research context
The study was conducted during the school years 20082009, 20092010 at a
mainstream (i.e. not intercultural) primary school and its neighbouring kindergarten
school which were located in a coastal, tourist and rural region in Thessaly, Central
Greece. The study site and population can be considered typical of the ethnic community
in question; the area was inhabited by a high percentage of Albanian immigrants, who
were employed mainly as construction workers and farm labourers.
The schoolsand teachersprofiles
The two schools were selected on the basis of their high percentage of pupils of Albanian
background and the pre-existing close relationship between the researcher (the first
author) and the schools. The children of Albanian immigrant background amounted to
almost half of the total student population in both schools. In addition, the researcher had
worked in the primary school as an English-language teacher before the time of the
research. According to van Lier (1988), the researchers relationship with the teachers, the
children and their parents is crucial for an ethnographic research since it safeguards easy
access to the participants and honest interaction with the research sample. Likewise, the
researchers prolonged engagement with the participants in the field (two-year fieldwork)
provided access to the emicperspectives of the respondents, thus facilitating the emic
principle of analysis (Lincoln and Guba 1985; Watson-Gegeo 1988).
International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 67
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The sample of the four teachers were two primary school teachers who taught at the
third and the second grade, the kindergarten head teacher and the kindergarten teacher, all
Greek native speakers. The third-grade teacher had 10 years of teaching experience, the
second-grade teacher 11 years, while the kindergarten teacher had 5 years and the
kindergarten head teacher 10 years of experience. Apart from their university degree,
none of them had any special training in intercultural education or second-language
teaching but all of them had considerable previous teaching experience with immigrant
pupils in the schools they had worked.
Data collection
Throughout the two-year course of the study, the researcher conducted informal
interviews and conversations with the children, their teachers and the parents in the
school context in order to obtain an emicperspective and thus provide a thick
description(Geertz 1973). During the school year 20082009, apart from the informal
interviews with the four teachers, the teachers took part in in-depth, semi-structured
interviews based on a series of question-topics, addressing the issues under study. In the
second year of the study, (20092010) four follow-up semi-structured interviews were
conducted with the same teachers.
The data analysis
In order to study the language ideologies in the teachersdiscourse on bilingualism and
school language learning, we employed Critical Discourse Analysis, based on van Dijks
(1993,1998) theoretical model. We focused on specific linguistic features, mostly lexical
forms, word meaning, word choices, propositions and implied presuppositions which
indexideology since as van Dijk (1998, 205) argues, opinions may be conventiona-
lized and codified in lexicon(in Martínez-Roldán and Malavé 2004, 165). Specifically,
we focused on structures of discourse and mainly on the meaning in order to examine the
ideologies coded in their talk.
Through critical discourse analysis we identified that the teachers express language views
which revolve around the ideology of monolingualism and can be summed up in the
following propositions:
.The perception of bilingualism as a problem and an obstacle to school language
learning. The teachers lay the blame for the childrens school difficulties on the
use of the heritage language in the family context.
Yes, we do say things like this that children, you have difficulties because you are from
another country and speak another language at home and you find it difficult and you will
find it more difficult in higher gradesdue to bilingualism which has these problems, because
your parents cannot help you. (Extract from a third-grade teachers interview)
.The teachers distance themselves from the childrens bilingualism by expressing
the indifferentattitude expressed as:
It does not concern us, we just teach our lessons.
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We are not interested in what they will do with the Albanian language, you do not tell them not
to learn the Albanian language, but that they certainly have to learn the Greek language
correctly. (Extract from a second-grade teachers interview)
.They do not relate their role as school educators to the childrens bilingualism.
Consequently, they present and express this indifferentattitude as a neutralone
towards the childrens bilingualism and distance themselves from the ideological
and political dimensions of language use and learning in the Greek school. The
extract below encompasses the teachersviews concerning the use of the Albanian
language at school:
Now they [the children] consider it forbidden, let us say, although we do not give them this
[impression] Automatically, I think it seems that way No, not like something that is
forbidden simply, naturally, in this place, we speak like this. (Extract from a third-grade
teachers interview)
.The exclusive use of the Greek language among all pupils in the Greek school is
perceived by the teachers as de facto, as common sense and the only legitimate
language behaviour. The legitimacy of the Greek language and the exclusion of
the Albanian language are a common view expressed by the four teachers which
leads to specific monolingual school practices too, either exercised consciously
and expressed directly or exercised indirectly and expressed covertly:
I think they are adapted now and they take the Greek language for granted and the other one
as a second language and that at school we should not speak it so much here we speak
Greek. (Extract from a second-grade teachers interview)
What we say at Kindergarten school and we are quite strict about it is that you should speak
Greek often, so that the children can learn so I think that it is obligatory for them to learn
Greek so we are strict about this that here we speak this language that we all
understand in the Greek school. (Extract from the kindergarten head teachers interview)
.The teachers perceive the Greek school as a site of equality for alland hold
immigrant parents exclusively responsible for the childrens negative language
attitudes and stereotypes towards their heritage language:
Look I believe they are ashamed I believe that it comes from their parents perhaps
from the reactions they faced at work or what their parents experienced when they came
here. (Extract from a third- grade teachers interview)
Combining the two sets of data, that is, those coming from the quantitative research with
those from the in-depth ethnographic study, we can infer that there is consistency between
them, which allows us to draw some general conclusions, both with safety, which stems
from the quantitative approach, and with a better insight, coming from the ethno-
graphic data.
Through the synthesis of the quantitative and qualitative analyses, we have gained an
insight into the teachersambivalent attitudes towards the childrens bilingualism, who
International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 69
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seem to be positive towards the encouragement of the pupilsheritage languages in
general but do not relate them to the childrens school language learning and their own
role as educators. Research data from other countries have also documented that teachers
do not see a role for themselves in the maintenance of their pupilsheritage languages,
which they perceive as an exclusive responsibility of immigrant communities (Lee and
Oxelson 2006). Furthermore, international research findings have revealed a discrepancy
in teachersviews which are positive on a theoretical level but appear less positive in
terms of teaching practice (Ramos 2001; Mora 1999).
In the Greek context, this sense of ambivalence, confusion and controversy, which
emerges from teachersviews, has been documented by previous research in Greek
teachersviews towards diversity, emphasising thus the need for special training in
bilingual and intercultural education (Skourtou, Vratsalis, and Govaris 2004; Vratsalis
and Skourtou 2000). Moreover, recent research data have shown that Greek teachers are
still hesitant about incorporating the theoryinto their classroom practices despite their
professional developmental experience and their positive attitudes towards bilingualism
in its general sense (Skourtou 2008). It seems that as far as school learning is concerned,
they hold quite fixed views about their pupilsheritage languages as an obstacle.
However, none of these studies have focused on tracing, studying and investigating the
language ideologies, which drive their language views and practices, so as to reach a
deeper understanding of their attitudes and thereafter, move gradually towards a better
planning of teacher training. Through the synthesis of the two methodological
approaches, our study provides a comprehensive, multifaceted analysis of teachers
views towards bilingualism and heritage languages, based on rich updated nationwide
data, which are, however, further investigated in terms of the ideological analysis of their
discourse, as this becomes available to us through the ethnographic study that followed.
The results of the quantitative study have indicated that a very large number of
teachers (48.2%) consider their pupilsheritage languages a hindrance to the learning of
Greek, while another large number stated that the learning of heritage languages should
concern the immigrant communities themselves (52.5%). In other words, the Greek
school and the Greek educators on the whole cannot be held responsible for supporting
pupilsheritage languages. Last but not least, the finding supported by the overwhelming
majority of the teachers (79.2%) is that any such classes do not belong to the normal
school schedule as they should take place after the regular daily school schedule. This is
in accordance with the legitimisation of the Greek language as the only school language
within the Greek school timetable, a finding that was prominent in the qualitative study
that followed.
Through the analysis of the teachersdiscourse in the qualitative study, we have come
to understand that the seemingly neutrallanguage attitudes, which teachers express
through their indifferentstances, are actually far from being neutral. On the contrary,
they reflect the legitimisation of the Greek language as the only school language and the
exclusion of the childrens heritage languages within the normalschool timetable.
Driven by their monolingual ideology, the teachers refuse to reflect critically on their own
role towards the childrens bilingualism and the messages they indirectly (or even
unintentionally) transfer through their everyday teaching practices. Consequently, they
are trapped into a neutralitysimply because the underpinning ideology of mono-
lingualism remains highly invisibleto them; similarly the childrens bilingualism still
remains invisiblein the Greek school, as we discussed in the beginning of this paper
(Tsokalidou 2005,2012; Gkaintartzi and Tsokalidou 2011).
70 A. Gkaintartzi et al.
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We thus propose that issues of bilingualism within schools can be understood and
appreciated even more successfully when a combination of methodologies and analyses is
made possible. The deeper interpretation of the teachersviews towards the use and
teaching of immigrant childrens heritage languages, through the tracing of the teachers
underlying ideologies, can provide us with a better understanding of language attitudes
and school practices as a whole.
1. The program is financially supported by the European Union (The National Strategic
Reference Framework (NSRF) (20072013), cf. The programme was
initially launched in 1997.
2. Regarding the Greek context, the research should provide information about the minimum
requirements needed in order to introduce heritage language courses into state schools (the
research groups interpretation).
3. The authors of the paper were all involved in the research. A. Kiliari was the scientific
coordinator in charge of the research, R. Tsokalidou was a member of the scientific committee
and A. Gkaintartzi was member of the data collection team.
4. In Table 6 the given percentages add up to give the total of the sample.
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... With respect to language educators' (including teachers, administrators, and principals) ideologies of language, previous studies have identified both centrifugal and centripetal forces of internally dominant languages in various contexts (De La Cruz Albizu 2020;Fitzsimmons-Doolan, Palmer, and Henderson 2017;Gkaintartzi, Kiliari, and Tsokalidou 2015;Ricklefs 2021). One group of these studies examines educators' language ideologies toward English as an internationally dominant language. ...
... Another group of studies examined educators' language ideologies toward minority languages and multilingualism in immigrant societies. Examples included educators' language ideologies in the United States (De La Cruz Albizu 2020; Fitzsimmons-Doolan 2018; Fitzsimmons-Doolan, Palmer, and Henderson 2017; Ricklefs 2021), Greece (Gkaintartzi, Kiliari, and Tsokalidou 2015), and Hong Kong (Gu, Kou, and Guo 2019). The educators under examination were usually part of the mainstream education system working with immigrant students whose home language was different from the language of instruction at school. ...
... Our study has also confirmed the two dimensions identified in previous studies on Burmese learners of Chinese-for constructing cultural identity (e.g. Li, Ai, and Zhang 2020) and accumulating social capital (Li, Ai, and Zhang 2020;Li and Zheng 2021)as well as in studies in other international contexts (De La Cruz Albizu 2020; Gkaintartzi, Kiliari, and Tsokalidou 2015;Gu, Kou, and Guo 2019). In addition to these two, we offer a third one, embodied by this group of Chinese language educators: perceiving Chinese as a potential lingua franca for enhancing the development of interethnic and interracial relationships. ...
Along with China's economic development and expanding cultural influence, the Chinese language has attracted an increasing number of learners in Myanmar, a culturally and linguistically diverse country. However, little is known about local Chinese teachers' language ideologies toward the Chinese language and Chinese language education against the societal, economic, and cultural backdrop in and beyond Myanmar, which constitutes what this study is intended to investigate. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews with 12 Chinese educators in Myanmar, followed by an inductive analysis process. Three themes were identified representing the educators' positive attitude toward viewing Chinese and Chinese language education as a resource for claiming cultural identity, accessing social capital, and enhancing regional relationships and development. The study yields implications relating to Myanmar's language and language education policy, the expansion of Chinese language education, and Chinese language educators' professional development. ARTICLE HISTORY
... The complex socio-political context of migration in Greece has posed a major challenge for the Greek educational system and policy. Official educational policies responding to multiculturalism in Greek schools have made some important steps, since the early immigration years, to support the inclusion of immigrant children, moving gradually from assimilationist to more inclusive policies (Gkaintartzi, Kiliari, & Tsokalidou, 2015). Yet, despite the positive steps, the children's bi/multilingualism remains largely 'invisible' in the Greek state school (Gkaintartzi & Tsokalidou, 2011;Tsokalidou, 2012) while current educational policies and practices are mostly monolingual without taking into account the multilingual and translingual realities of these children. ...
... The inclusion and support of children's home languages in school education is still a highly controversial and ideological issue since teachers' language practices and beliefs are shown to be oriented toward monolingualism. (Gkaintartzi et al., 2015;Gkaintartzi et al., 2019). ...
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We are very happy to publish this issue of the International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research. The International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research is a peer-reviewed open-access journal committed to publishing high-quality articles in the field of education. Submissions may include full-length articles, case studies and innovative solutions to problems faced by students, educators and directors of educational organisations. To learn more about this journal, please visit the website We are grateful to the editor-in-chief, members of the Editorial Board and the reviewers for accepting only high quality articles in this issue. We seize this opportunity to thank them for their great collaboration. The Editorial Board is composed of renowned people from across the world. Each paper is reviewed by at least two blind reviewers. We will endeavour to ensure the reputation and quality of this journal with this issue.
... Research, for instance, demonstrates that many teachers and professionals working with young children view heritage language maintenance as a hindrance for institutional language learning, steering parents towards the institutional language (e.g. Eisenchlas & Schalley, 2017;Gkaintartzi et al., 2014;Lee & Oxelson, 2006;Yu, 2013). Moreover, Kaveh and Sandoval (2020) describe how parents can still feel internal tensions to switch to the institutional language even when the school or day-care facility does not (explicitly) favour this language and in fact encourages heritage language maintenance at home. ...
... For it is plausible that, partly because of the policies in their occupation, professionals advise in favour of Dutch exposure at home, whereas other sources might focus on the (importance of) heritage language exposure. Besides the common Dutch-oriented policies in early childhood facilities, certain institutional language-favouring beliefs held by some professionals could steer them into advising institutional language use without paying attention to the precarious nature of heritage languages, which are often only supported within the family (Bezcioglu-Goktolga & Yagmur, 2018;Gkaintartzi et al., 2014;Lee & Oxelson, 2006;Yu, 2013). Secondly, in following the obtained advice, the (power) relationships between parents and counsellor, and parental motives might play a role, and might be affected by certain resources in the family. ...
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Early on, parents in multilingual families start moulding their children’s linguistic environment, a process which is believed to be influenced by several external and family-related factors. The present study examines which factors correlate with parents’ efforts to maximise the institutional language (here Dutch) input in the home. The variables taken into account are: the families’ language policy constituted by language practices, beliefs and management; advice from both early childhood professionals and other sources; the parents’ linguistic and educational resources, as well as the family’s migration generation. Our data, representing 776 multilingual families in the officially monolingual, yet de facto language-diverse Flemish community of Belgium, were subjected to a bivariate correlational analysis and a stepwise logistic regression. Our results show the potential influence of advice and educational resources on parental decisions to maximise their children’s institutional language input. Both lower educational resources and advice given by professionals are linked with higher Dutch exposure efforts, whereas advice from other sources appears connected with less inclination to expose children to the institutional language at home. In further discussing our findings, policy implications are introduced.
... Advice offered by ECCE professionals remains negatively related, but insignificant throughout the four models. We propose that as ECCE professionals are part of the Flemish context, their advice might favour the IL (e.g., Eisenchlas & Schalley, 2017;Gkaintartzi, Kiliari, & Tsokalidou, 2014;Winter & Pauwels, 2007). In any case, advice from professionals does not seem to correlate with parents' HL maintenance efforts. ...
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Aims: Multilingual families are often challenged with the transmission of their heritage language (HL) to future generations. Departing from this observation, this study aims to investigate which factors correlate with multilingual families’ HL maintenance efforts. The variables taken into account are the families’ language policy (FLP), advice from both Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) professionals and other (informal) sources, the parents’ linguistic and educational resources, as well as their migration generation. Methodology: Exclusively quantitative in nature, the data for this study involve 776 multilingual families in the Flemish community of Belgium. Analysis: These data have subsequentially been subjected to two inferential analyses: a bivariate correlational analysis followed by a logistic regression for a more detailed understanding of the relations at play. Findings: The results indicate a positive correlation between families’ policies and their HL maintenance efforts, in addition to confirming the independence of FLP’s three components (beliefs, practices, and management). Furthermore, contrary to advice from ECCE professionals, advice from other sources is positively and significantly associated with HL maintenance efforts. Finally, families comprised of parents with access to higher linguistic and educational resources are less likely to try and pass on the HL to their children, probably favouring the acquisition of the institutional language (IL). Originality: This paper quantitatively explores factors that correlate with parental HL maintenance efforts using a large and language-diverse sample. This quantitative approach facilitates generalizations for future (qualitative) research and advice-giving bodies to build on. Significance: Our findings bring about greater insights into the motivation of parents concerning HL maintenance and could contribute to the advice given to multilingual families.
... The two curricula recontextualise the skills and outcomes based approach to curricula and knowledge, promoted by supranational and international agencies (e.g., Official Journal of the European Union, 2006), by placing emphasis on the development of general communication skills, alongside other "soft skills" (critical thinking, digital skills, creativity, etc.) (Pedagogic Institute, 2011). However, despite the discursive constructions of language as a means for participation in multicultural globalised societies, the two curricula retain the monolingual orientation to language teaching in Greece (Gkaintartzi et al., 2015). ...
... This is partially explained by the Albanian parents' misconception of the children's home language as an obstacle to the acquisition of the dominant language, i.e. Greek (Gkaintartzi et al., 2015). ...
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Twenty-eight Albanian-Greek bilingual children with Developmental Language Disorder and 28 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder but no language impairment, along with 28 typically-developing, age-, Performance IQ- and socioeconomic status-matched bilingual children were asked to produce two expository texts which were coded for spelling (phonological, grammatical, orthographic) errors, stress and punctuation use. The children’s expressive vocabulary, current language use and home language history were also measured. The results show that the bilingual children with Developmental Language Disorder were particularly vulnerable to spelling errors, while their bilingual peers with Autism Spectrum Disorder were rather challenged by stress and punctuation. The evidence speaks in favor of distinct patterns of writing impairment across the bilingual children with Developmental Language Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Many case studies of heritage language learners (HLLs) have documented learners’ perceptions and experiences, including experiences of stigmatization in the classroom for use of a non-standard variation or for not meeting teachers’ expectations of an HLL. However, few have investigated teachers’ perceptions of their HLLs, and how these could address or illuminate documented negative learning experiences. The current study uses survey methodology to investigate language teachers’ language ideologies of heritage languages and perceptions of HLL s on a larger scale than previous efforts. The study is inclusive of teachers of different grade levels, types of classrooms, and, perhaps most importantly, different languages. By looking at a wide array of participants (N = 325), this study addresses the overarching question: How do language teachers perceive their HLL s in the classroom? The findings provide insight on teachers’ views of HLLs’ dialects, their expectations of learners, and the practical needs of teachers.
Immigrant minority (IM) languages have a significant presence in certain European regions. Nonetheless, these languages are not usually included in the school curriculum. This paper aims to analyse the studies published between 2010 and 2020 considering IM languages in multilingual European education contexts. The method included a search of academic papers published in the databases ERIC, Web of Science and Scopus, which yielded 42 studies. The studies were analysed by considering (1) the demographic characteristics of the countries where the studies were conducted, (2) the sociolinguistic or psycholinguistic focus of the papers in relation to the European country, and (3) the characteristics of the bi-multilingual education programme including IM languages. The results indicate that (1) the demographic characteristics of the country are not strictly related to the number of studies published, (2) most studies have a sociolinguistic approach even though many studies analyse both sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic factors, and (3) only seven multilingual education programmes including IM languages were described in these papers. We conclude that there is a lack of research focusing on IM languages in educational settings and discuss how addressing these gaps could create opportunities for building equitable multilingual communities in Europe.
This chapter presents some of the complex issues relating to the teaching/ learning of (emergent) pluringual children within the context of formal education. In addition to defining key concepts, the chapter exemplifies research findings by giving voice to the learner through the inclusion of short extracts from a personal testimony in which early education experiences in relation to plurilingualism are discussed. When the language(s), cultural codes and expectations at school differ from those at home, both teachers and learners can feel destabilized. Inadequate teacher education about plurilingualism leaves a void all too easily filled with misguided and unhelpful practiced language policies, fuelled by ideologies rather than research. This chapter discusses the consequences of language (de)legitimization, focusing on the complex dynamics and interplay of language, power and relationships. It examines how schools and their staff acknowledge and build on or ignore and impede plurilingual children’s knowledge and skills development.
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Ethnography has recently become fashionable in ESL, second language classroom, and educational research. But many studies bearing the name ethnographic are impressionistic and superficial rather than careful and detailed. This article addresses two questions: What is ethnography? And what can it do for us in ESL? Ethnography is defined, and some principles of quality ethnographic work are discussed, including the focus on behavior in groups, holism, emit-etic perspectives, comparison, grounded theory, and techniques of data collection and treatment. The promise of ethnography for research and for improving teaching and teacher training is then addressed.
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This article presents a qualitative case study of a sevenyear-old Mexican American student and his family. Using Critical Discourse Analysis, we examine both the child’s emergent ideas about language, as expressed in bilingual literature discussions, and his parents’ ideological discourses about the use of a minority language in public schools. Vygotsky’s theory of learning oriented this research on language ideologies, focusing on how parents’ ideological discourses shape both literacy development and identity formation in early childhood. Our findings illustrate the importance of looking beyond the classroom and school contexts to identify diverse factors that may affect children’s development of biliteracy in early childhood, such as the role of language ideologies. This study demonstrates the complex relationships between literacy, language ideologies, and issues of identity within the broader contexts of controversies over bilingual education and official English laws in the USA.
Basic orientations toward language and its role in society influence the nature of language planning efforts in any particular context. Three such orientations are proposed in this paper language-as-problem, language-as-right, and language-as-resource. The first two currently compete for predominance in the international literature. While problem-solving has been the main activity of language planners from early on (language planning being an early and important aspect of social planning in ‘development’ contexts), rights-affirmation has gained in importance with the renewed emphasis on the protection of minority groups. The third orientation has received much less attention; it is proposed as vital to the interest of language planning in the United States. Bilingual education is considered in the framework of these orientations. Many of the problems of bilingual education programs in the United States arise because of the hostility and divisiveness inherent in the problem- and rights-orientations which generally underlie them. The development and elaboration of a language-resource orientation is seen as important for the integration of bilingual education into a responsible language policy for the United States.
This paper examines teachers' attitudes towards their students' heritage language maintenance and their engagement in classroom practices that may or may not affirm the value of maintaining and developing heritage languages among students. Through surveys and interviews with K–12 teachers in California public schools, the data show that the nature of teacher training and personal experience with languages other than English significantly affect teacher attitudes toward heritage language maintenance and bilingualism. Teachers who did not receive training as language educators expressed negative or indifferent attitudes toward heritage language maintenance and did not see a role for themselves and schools in heritage language maintenance efforts. This study highlights the need for all educators to better understand the critical role and functions of heritage languages in the personal, academic, and social trajectories of linguistic minority students.
This paper is part of a broader project investigating the security of borders. Its key hypothesis is that the way migrants get on in the host country influences whether borders divide or unite. In this context survey evidence covering 500 Albanians in Athens is presented to track processes of inegration and exclusion, to see in other words how perceptions of borders are reflected in social attitudes. The picture emerging is that of a vibrant community characterised by family success, coupled though with significant deficits in collective organisation. Thus the derived benefits for both hosts and migrants would have been greater if greater trust characterised their interaction.