ArticlePDF Available

Affirming identity in multilingual classrooms

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

In How People Learn, Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000) synthesized research regarding the optimal conditions that foster learning; a follow-up volume edited by Donovan and Bransford (2005) examines the application of these learning principles to teaching history, mathematics, and science. Bransford and colleagues emphasize the following three conditions for effective learning: engaging prior understandings and background knowledge, integrating factual knowledge with conceptual frameworks by encouraging deep understanding, and supporting students in taking active control over the learning process. Any instructional intervention that claims scientific credibility should reflect these principles, which are particularly important when it comes to English language learners. Prior knowledge refers not only to information or skills previously acquired in formal instruction but also to the totality of the experiences that have shaped the learner's identity and cognitive functioning. In classrooms with students from linguistically diverse backgrounds, instruction should explicitly activate this knowledge.
Content may be subject to copyright.
September 2005
September 2005 | Volume 63 | Number 1
The Whole Child Pages 38-43
Affirming Identity in Multilingual
Classrooms
By welcoming a student's home language into the classroom,
schools actively engage English language learners in literacy.
Jim Cummins, Vicki Bismilla, Patricia Chow, Sarah Cohen,
Frances Giampapa, Lisa Leoni, Perminder Sandhu, and Padma
Sastri
In How People Learn, Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000) synthesized research regarding
the optimal conditions that foster learning; a follow-up volume edited by Donovan and
Bransford (2005) examines the application of these learning principles to teaching history,
mathematics, and science. Bransford and colleagues emphasize the following three conditions
for effective learning: engaging prior understandings and background knowledge, integrating
factual knowledge with conceptual frameworks by encouraging deep understanding, and
supporting students in taking active control over the learning process.
Any instructional intervention that claims scientific credibility should reflect these principles,
which are particularly important when it comes to English language learners. Prior knowledge
refers not only to information or skills previously acquired in formal instruction but also to the
totality of the experiences that have shaped the learner's identity and cognitive functioning. In
classrooms with students from linguistically diverse backgrounds, instruction should explicitly
activate this knowledge.
Knowledge is more than just the ability to remember. Deeper levels of understanding enable
students to transfer knowledge from one context to another. Moreover, when students take
ownership of their learning²when they invest their identities in learning outcomes²active
learning takes place. Numerous research studies have shown that scripted, transmission-
oriented pedagogy, which tends to be both superficial and passive, fails to build on English
language learners' pre-existing cultural and linguistic knowledge (Warschauer, Knobel, &
Stone, 2004).
Pre-existing knowledge for English language learners is encoded in their home languages.
Consequently, educators should explicitly teach in a way that fosters transfer of concepts and
skills from the student's home language to English. Research clearly shows the potential for
this kind of cross-language transfer in school contexts that support biliteracy development
(Cummins, 2001; Reyes, 2001). It is hard to argue that we are teaching the whole child when
school policy dictates that students leave their language and culture at the schoolhouse door.
Embracing Differences
Sidra's experiences as an English language learner illustrate some of these concerns. Two
years after she emigrated from Pakistan with her family, she described her early days as a 5th
grader in a Canadian school:
I was new, and I didn't know English. I could only say little sentences. I wore
cultural clothes, and people usually judge a new person by their looks. If they see
the clothes that I am wearing are not like their clothes, they will just think that I'm
not one of them. If we had any partner activities, no one will pick me as their
partner. I felt really, really left out. Kids also made fun of me because I looked
different, and I couldn't speak English properly.
Sidra highlights themes that are notably absent from the ³scientifically proven´ prescriptions of
No Child Left Behind (NCLB). She talks about the struggle to express herself, not just
linguistically, but also culturally. Her ³cultural clothes´ are an expression of an identity that her
peers have rejected, causing her to feel ³really, really left out.´ But Sidra also had caring
teachers who welcomed her into school. As she explained,
I was the only person in grade 5 who wore cultural clothes. The teachers liked what I
wore. They tried to talk to me and ask me questions. I liked telling teachers about
my culture and religion. It made me feel more comfortable and welcome.
Sidra's experiences show that human relationships are important in children's adjustment to
schooling; engagement in learning, particularly for English language learners, is fueled as much
by affect as by cognition. Despite her still-limited access to academic English, she writes
extensively because she has a lot to share, and she knows that her teacher, Lisa Leoni, is
genuinely interested in her experiences and insights. Sidra's account also illustrates the
opportunity²and the responsibility²that teachers have to create environments that affirm the
identities of English language learners, thereby increasing the confidence with which these
students engage in language and literacy activities.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Affect, identity, respect, and human relationships: These constructs have not been evident in
the radical education reforms ushered in by NCLB, which supposedly are based on scientific
research. Numerous commentators have critiqued the scientific basis and instructional
consequences of these policies (Allington, 2004; Garan, 2001; Krashen, 2004). Several false
assumptions underlying these reforms apply specifically to English language learners:
ł Students' home language is, at best, irrelevant. At worst, it is an impediment to literacy
development and academic success.
ł The cultural knowledge and linguistic abilities that English language learners bring to
school have little instructional relevance.
ł Instruction to develop English literacy should focus only on English literacy.
ł Students can learn only what teachers explicitly teach.
ł Culturally and linguistically diverse parents, whose English may be limited, do not have
the language skills to contribute to their children's literacy development.
These assumptions, common before NCLB, have now become entrenched as a result of the
ubiquity of high-stakes testing and the mandate for systematic and explicit phonics instruction
from kindergarten through 6th grade (Lyon & Chhabra, 2004). Yet they violate the scientific
consensus about how people learn (Bransford et al., 2000). They also reduce the opportunities
for literacy engagement within the classroom (Guthrie, 2004). Finally, they are refuted by
empirical data on literacy development among English language learners, which show that
students' home language proficiency at time of arrival in an English-speaking country is the
strongest predictor of English academic development (Thomas & Collier, 2002).
We present an alternative set of principles for promoting academic engagement among English
language learners, which we draw from Early and colleagues' research project in Canada
(2002). Central to our argument are two interrelated propositions:
ł English language learners' cultural knowledge and language abilities in their home
language are important resources in enabling academic engagement; and
ł English language learners will engage academically to the extent that instruction affirms
their identities and enables them to invest their identities in learning.
The Dual Language Identity Text
Teaching for cross-language transfer and literacy engagement can be problematic for teachers
when multiple languages are represented in the classroom, none of which the teacher may
know. One approach that we have been exploring in several schools in Canada's Greater
Toronto area involves identity texts. These products, which can be written, spoken, visual,
musical, dramatic, or multimodal combinations, are positive statements that students make
about themselves.
Identity texts differ from more standard school assignments in both the process and the
product. The assignment is cognitively challenging, but students can choose their topics. They
decide how they will carry out the project and are encouraged to use the full repertoire of their
talents in doing so.
For example, when she was in 7th grade²and less than a year after arriving in Canada²
Madiha coauthored a 20-page English-Urdu dual language book titled The New Country (see
illustration, at left). Together with her friends, Kanta and Sulmana, also originally from
Pakistan, she wrote about ³how hard it was to leave our country and come to a new country.´
Kanta and Sulmana were reasonably fluent in English because they had arrived in Toronto
several years before, in 4th grade. Madiha, however, was in the early stages of English
language acquisition.
Figure
Seventh graders coauthored a dual language book about their experiences immigrating to
Canada from Pakistan.
The students collaborated on this project in the context of a unit on migration that integrated
social studies, language, and ESL curriculum expectations. They researched and wrote the
story over the course of several weeks, sharing their experiences and language skills. Madiha
spoke little English but was fluent in Urdu; Sulmana was fluent and literate in both Urdu and
English; Kanta, who was fluent in Punjabi and English, had mostly learned Urdu in Toronto. The
girls discussed their ideas primarily in Urdu but wrote the initial draft of their story in English.
Sulmana served as scribe for both languages.
In a ³normal´ classroom, Madiha's minimal knowledge of English would have severely limited
her ability to participate in a 7th grade social studies unit. She certainly would not have been in
a position to communicate extensively in English about her experiences, ideas, and insights.
When the social structure of the classroom changed in simple ways, however, Madiha could
express herself in ways that few English language learners experience in school. Her home
language, in which all her experience prior to immigration was encoded, became once again a
tool for learning. She contributed her ideas and experiences to the story, participated in
discussions about how to translate vocabulary and expressions from Urdu to English and from
English to Urdu, and shared in the affirmation that all three students experienced when they
published their story.
Students can create identity texts on any topic relevant to their lives or of interest to them.
Sometimes teachers will suggest topics or ways of carrying out the project; in other cases,
students will generate topics themselves and decide what form the projects will take. Because
these projects require substantial time to complete, it is useful to aim for cross-curricular
integration. That way, the project can meet standards in several different content areas. For
example, students might research the social history of their communities through document
analysis and interviews with community members. Such a project would integrate curricular
standards in language arts, social studies, and technology.
Because students want to do the work in the first place, they generally treasure the product
they have created and wish to share it with those they care about. This usually doesn't happen
with worksheets, regardless of how accurately the student completes them. The worksheet has
no life beyond its immediate function, whereas the identity text lives on for a considerable
time, either in tangible form, as in a book, or as a digital text on the Web.
Language in the Classroom
Thornwood Public School, a K±5 school in the Peel District School Board in Toronto, Canada,
pioneered the process of the dual language identity text (Chow & Cummins, 2003; Schecter &
Cummins, 2003). As is common in many urban public schools in Canada, students in
Thornwood speak more than 40 different home languages, with no one language dominating.
Patricia Chow's 1st and 2nd grade students created stories initially in English, the language of
school instruction, because most of the primary students had not yet learned to read or write in
their home languages. Students illustrated their stories and then worked with various people²
parents, older students literate in their home languages, or teachers who spoke their languages
²to translate these stories into the students' home languages. The school created the Dual
Language Showcase Web site (http://thornwood.peelschools.org/Dual) to enable students to
share their bilingual stories over the Internet with parents, relatives, and friends, both in
Canada and in the students' countries of origin. With identity texts, audience becomes a
powerful source of validation for the student.
As the Thornwood Dual Language Showcase project has evolved, dual language books have
become a potent tool to support the integration of newcomers and English language learners.
Students write initial drafts of stories in whichever language they choose, usually in their
stronger language. Thus, newcomer students can write in their home language and
demonstrate not only their literacy skills but also their ideas and feelings, giving full play to
their imaginations. The image of newcomer students, in both their own eyes and in the eyes of
others, changes dramatically when these students express themselves in this way within the
school curriculum.
Figure
A dual language (English-Urdu) storybook created by 7th graders for younger readers.
When none of the teachers or class members speaks the language of a particular newcomer
student, the school explores contacts with community members or board-employed community
liaison personnel or involves older students from the same language background whose English
is more fluent. High school students from various language backgrounds receive credit for their
involvement as community service work. Consequently, dual language texts have become a
catalyst for fruitful forms of school-community engagement.
At Floradale Public School, another highly multilingual school in the Peel District School Board,
teacher-librarian Padma Sastri has integrated both student-created and commercial dual
language books into all aspects of library functioning. She prominently displays student-created
dual language books near the library entrance, welcomes parents into the library to read books
to students in their native languages, and encourages students to check out dual language
books to take home to read with their families.
When students gather around her for the day's lesson in the library, Sastri enlists students to
read a given story out loud in English. She also encourages various students to retell the story
afterward in their home language. Said one observer,
I listen amazed as one by one the students retell the story in Urdu, Turkish,
Vietnamese, Chinese, Gujerati, Tamil, Korean, and Arabic. The other students in the
class appear to be equally entranced, although neither I nor they understand most of
the languages being used. It is captivating to hear the same story repeated in
different languages with new or sometimes the same gestures to express a change
in action.
By welcoming a student's home language, schools facilitate the flow of knowledge, ideas, and
feelings between home and school and across languages.
Elementary school teacher Perminder Sandhu integrated discussions about students' language
and culture into the curriculum of her 4th grade class in Coppard Glen Public School of
Toronto's York Region District School Board. Students wrote about their languages, discussed
the importance of continuing to speak their languages, and worked in pairs to create dual
language or multilingual books, often with the help of their parents. One of Sandhu's students
writes about his engagement with literacy and popular culture outside the school. Jagdeep,
who is fluent in Punjabi, Hindi, and English, illustrates the importance of connecting, both
cognitively and affectively, with students' prior experience:
I love Punjabi stories. They're so exciting. When it comes to Hindi movies, I just
can't stop watching them! They are very funny, and the problems are very
sophisticated. It makes me proud of my cultural background.
For Sandhu, acknowledging and actively promoting students' linguistic and cultural capital is
not simply a matter of activating students' prior knowledge²she fuses these practices in a
pedagogy of respect. Sandhu explains,
It informs my practice through and through. It runs in the bloodstream of my
classroom. It's all about relationships, how we validate students' identities, how they
accept their own identities. That ethos is fundamentally important²it's not an add-
on. It takes less than two extra minutes of my time to get students to see the
humanity of another human being at a most basic level. Because once they begin to
see their own and one another's vulnerabilities, inhibitions, and realities, they
connect.
The pedagogical orientation illustrated in the examples above differs from many schools'
current policies and practice in two major respects. First, the teacher acknowledges that the
language in which English language learners' prior experience is encoded is an important
resource for learning. Consequently, instruction explicitly aims for transfer of knowledge and
skills across languages. Second, instruction communicates respect for students' languages and
cultures and encourages students to engage with literacy and invest their identities in the
learning process.
Aims of Education
The job of an educator is to teach students to see vitality in themselves.
²Joseph Campbell
The Heart of Schooling
Educators, individually and collectively, always have choices. They can choose to go beyond
curricular guidelines and mandates. They can meet curricular expectations and standards in
ways that acknowledge and respect students' prior knowledge. They can engage English
language learners in powerful literacy practices, such as creating identity texts. Identity texts
also encourage collaboration among teachers, parents, and students. By including parents in
the process, these practices affirm the funds of knowledge available in the community.
When we talk about the whole child, let us not forget the whole teacher. The process of identity
negotiation is reciprocal. As teachers open up identity options for students, they also define
their own identities. The teachers who supported and appreciated Sidra in her struggles to
express herself and belong in her new school were also expressing what being educators meant
to them. They saw Sidra not as a ³limited-English-proficient´ student but as a young person
with intelligence, emotions, aspirations, and talents. They created classrooms that enabled her
to express her identity.
Although NCLB has reinforced the bleak pedagogical landscapes that exist in many urban
school systems, it has reinserted the achievement of English language learners and low-income
students into policy discussions. Schools cannot meet adequate yearly progress goals without
improving these students' achievement. Schools can achieve this goal much more effectively
when they take into account identity investment as a core component of learning.
Many teachers understand intuitively that human relationships are at the heart of schooling.
Student achievement will increase significantly only when this insight permeates all levels of
education policymaking.
References
Allington, R. L. (2004). Setting the record straight. Educational Leadership, 61(6),
22±25.
Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn: Brain,
mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Chow, P., & Cummins, J. (2003). Valuing multilingual and multicultural
approaches to learning. In S. R. Schecter & J. Cummins (Eds.), Multilingual
education in practice: Using diversity as a resource (pp. 32±61). Portsmouth, NH:
Heinemann.
Cummins, J. (2001). Negotiating identities: Education for empowerment in a
diverse society (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: California Association for Bilingual
Education.
Donovan, M. S., & Bransford, J. D. (Eds.). (2005). How students learn: History,
mathematics, and science in the classroom. Washington, DC: National Academy
Press.
Early, M., et al. (2002). From literacy to multiliteracies: Designing learning
environments for knowledge generation within the new economy. Proposal funded
by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Garan, E. M. (2001). What does the report of the National Reading Panel really
tell us about teaching phonics? Language Arts, 79(1), 61±70.
Guthrie, J. T. (2004). Teaching for literacy engagement. Journal of Literacy
Research, 36, 1±30.
Krashen, S. D. (2004). False claims about literacy development. Educational
Leadership, 61(6), 18±21.
Lyon, G. R., & Chhabra, V. (2004). The science of reading research. Educational
Leadership, 61(6), 12±17.
Reyes, M. L. (2001). Unleashing possibilities: Biliteracy in the primary grades. In
M. L. Reyes & J. Halcón (Eds.), The best for our children: Critical perspectives on
literacy for Latino students (pp. 96±121). New York: Teachers College Press.
Schecter, S., & Cummins, J. (Eds.). (2003). Multilingual education in practice:
Using diversity as a resource. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Thomas, W. P., & Collier, V. P. (2002). A national study of school effectiveness for
language minority students' long-term academic achievement. Santa Cruz, CA:
Center for Research on Education, Diversity and Excellence, University of
California±Santa Cruz.
Warschauer, M., Knobel, M., & Stone, L. (2004). Technology and equity in
schooling: Deconstructing the digital divide. Educational Policy, 18(4), 562±588.
Authors' note: The research reported in this paper was carried out with funding (2002±2005) from the Social
Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. To view student and teacher work as well as relevant
research, visit www.multiliteracies.ca.
Jim Cummins (jcummins@oise.utoronto.ca) is a Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and
Learning at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, University of Toronto (OISE/UofT). Frances Giampapa
is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Sarah Cohen is a PhD student in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and
Learning at OISE/UofT. Vicki Bismilla is the Superintendent of Equity and Lisa Leoni and Perminder Sandhu
are elementary school teachers in the York Region District School Board. Patricia Chow and Padma Sastri are
elementary school teachers in the Peel District School Board.
Copyright © 2005 by ASCD
Contact Us | Copyright Information | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
© 2009 ASCD
... It may be argued that even where languages in a linguistic repertoire use different scripts, there is a certain degree of interaction and overlap between them in the brain, which is referred to as common underlying proficiency (Cummins 2000). Second, multilingual students construct their linguistic identities by reflecting on and using their entire range of linguistic repertoires (Cummins et al. 2005;García and Wei 2014;Beiler 2019). Third, multilinguals who have three or more languages often have an increased level of metalinguistic awareness (Cenoz 2003), which means that they can focus explicitly on linguistic forms. ...
... First, code-switching has been classified as parallel and complementary (Sebba 2012), where parallelism refers to the use of different languages for the same content, while complementarity refers to the use of different languages for different content. Parallelism is, in fact, the translanguaging model for identity texts, where students present the same content in two texts-one in their home language, and the other in the target language (Cummins et al. 2005). By using two different languages for the same content, students are allowed to activate their previous knowledge, reflect on their identities as multilingual learners, and invest their identities in language learning (cf. ...
... By using two different languages for the same content, students are allowed to activate their previous knowledge, reflect on their identities as multilingual learners, and invest their identities in language learning (cf. Cummins et al. 2005;Krulatz et al. 2018). Second, code-switching has six communicative functions: referential, directive, expressive, phatic, metalinguistic, and poetic (Appel and Muysken 2005, pp. ...
Article
Full-text available
Teachers in Norway have been increasingly faced with the challenge of adapting their instruction methods to address the needs of minority-language students. The current body of research on the issue seems to indicate that multilingual practices are being introduced in Norwegian classrooms. However, they often rely on majority languages, such as English and Norwegian. Some teachers have been found to employ minority languages to support learners’ English writing in drafts. As a result, minority languages in Norwegian schools tend to be regarded as less valuable than Norwegian and English. However, more recent projects are being implemented in Norwegian schools to help teachers alter their ideologies of minority languages. This article adds to this body of research by presenting two teachers’ work with multilingual pedagogies, involving the active use of minority languages alongside Norwegian and English in student texts. The data were collected from: teacher reports, student materials, and mentorship meetings. The findings indicate that the teachers successfully implemented multilingual pedagogies by using language portraits, parallel translanguaging in multilingual posters and multimodal dictionaries, and complementary translanguaging in multilingual poetry. These multilingual practices enabled the students to showcase their linguistic identities and multilingual literacy practices. The implementation of multilingual pedagogies benefited from the long-term availability of scholarly input and guidance for teachers and the opportunity to share experiences in a professional network.
... Dual Language Textbooks Cummins et al. (2005) report on a project extending the pedagogy of multiliteracies called identity texts. Typically, created by bilingual or multilingual students, identity texts are "products, which can be written, spoken, visual, musical, dramatic, or multimodal combinations, [that] are positive statements that students make about themselves" (Cummins et al., 2005, p. 40). ...
... In some cases, the students wrote their texts first in English and the texts were then translated by their parents or siblings into their home language. In other instances, students created texts in either English or their home language, whichever language they felt comfortable with, and then with the help of a more capable peer or parent, the students translated the text into the other language (Cummins et al., 2005). The result is then a text that validates and reflects the students' identity, including their home languages and cultures while at the same time facilitating literacy education. ...
... The use of multilingual story-retelling in Lotherington et al. (2008) and the process of creating identity texts in Cummins et al. (2005) and Cummins (2006) show how learners' home languages may be included in ethnolinguistically diverse classrooms. However, there are limitations to the work that has been done. ...
Article
Full-text available
Environmental awareness is a topic that can be easily woven into the content of language courses. The major goals of introducing “green” topics into language lessons are to raise consciousness about environmental conditions and to promote environmentally appropriate behavior. Since environmental attitudes are formed by many influences over a long period of time, it is fitting for language teachers to integrate content relevant to global or local environmental challenges into lessons and curriculum. Furthermore, since the commitment to learning a language is an affirmation of global citizenship, it naturally follows that a language learner’s worldview should include a knowledge and interest in global issues such as environmental stewardship. Therefore, this paper will discuss how a didactic approach, combining green themes with linguistic skill building, can help students form an environmental ethic and develop critical thinking skills while acquiring relevant vocabulary and grammatical structures.
... Through the large, and growing, body of research literature focused on issues of diversity in education, we have gained valuable insights into ways in which students of diverse social and cultural backgrounds may experience schooling (Igoa, 1995;Carger, 1996;Valdes, 1996Valdes, , 2001Valenzuela, 2005Valenzuela, , 2009Chan, 2007;He et al., 2007;Olsen, 2008;Cameron, 2012) and ways in which their teachers may experience their work of supporting their students (Igoa, 1995;Paley, 1995Paley, , 2000Cummins et al., 2005;Chan and Ross, 2009;Gatti, 2014). For all students, issues of equity and social justice should be important considerations at the core of their schooling. ...
... For many students of diverse backgrounds, issues of equity and social justice often seem to be highlighted or experienced in the form of challenges or obstacles in actively participating or engaging in school curriculum and activities. Academic challenges are often associated with limited proficiency in the language of instruction (Igoa, 1995;Cummins, 2001;Nieto and Bode, 2018), made worse by language policies which discourage the use of their home languages to support language learning (Cummins et al., 2005;Gandara et al., 2010). English language learners (ELLs) in American schools, for example, may have difficulty understanding lessons, completing assignments, and communicating their knowledge to teachers and peers due to their varying levels of proficiency in English (Igoa, 1995;Kouritzin, 1999;Au, 2010;Gandara et al., 2010). ...
... There are many ways in which school practices and curriculum in the host community differ so significantly from those of the home culture and society of many immigrant and minority students that the transition from home to school each day may be jarring (Li, 2002(Li, , 2005Valenzuela, 2005Valenzuela, , 2009), sometimes to the extent of being perceived as 'ruptures' (Hamman and Zuniga, 2011). It is not uncommon for immigrant and minority students to feel a sense of disconnect because differences in values and expectations between home and school (Kalantzis and Cope, 1992;Paley, 1995Paley, , 2000Cummins et al., 2005;Chan, 2007;He et al., 2007;Gay, 2018) are so marked. ...
Article
Full-text available
In this study, I examined interactions between an English teacher and her students to illustrate ways in which issues of equity and social justice may play out in nuanced ways in the implementation of school curriculum in a diverse, Midwestern high school. These stories of classroom teacher and student experiences reveal complexities of how equity and social justice might unfold for students, and be understood by a teacher as she works with her students, to build a body of “teacher knowledge” (Clandinin and Connelly, 1996) that grows as the teacher gains experience. Examining complexities of “teacher knowledge” as a classroom teacher attempts to acknowledge her students’ social and cultural backgrounds while also implementing curriculum that meets requirements established by her school board, offers insight into challenges a teacher might encounter while working with students of diverse backgrounds in a school context.
... Linguistically responsive teachers should be able to provide learning strategies for their students, guide their work explicitly, and take their students' prior knowledge and skills into account when designing and implementing their instruction [7,20,22]. Teachers should also recognise students' first languages as learning resources, because strong first language skills promote the learning of other languages and content [21,23,24]. ...
Article
Full-text available
This article considers what students with a migrant background in Finnish comprehensive schools report as difficult, and how they succeed in overcoming these difficulties. We draw on two sets of school wellbeing and learning surveys for migrant students, conducted in 2016 and 2021 in comprehensive schools (grades 1–9) in and around two major cities in Finland. We pay attention to student answers to three questions: What is difficult in school? How do you succeed in difficult tasks in school? and Who helps you in school? The datasets from the two points in time are compared to see whether changes in school demographic situation and the student length of stay in Finland had an impact on student experiences. Our findings show that theory-based school subjects that depend strongly on language, such as science subjects, maths, Finnish, Swedish and English, are considered difficult. Additionally, interaction with peers, which also relies on language, causes challenges. The students report turning to teachers, other professionals and peers for assistance and support, and also mention personal strategies they have developed to overcome school-related difficulties. Understanding what migrant students find difficult, as well as how, and with the help of whom, they overcome such difficulties is crucial for the development of effective and sensitive pedagogical practices.
... Stille and Prasad (2015) recommend that instruction recognizes and makes visible the emotional aspect of language learning; as such, instruction helps affirm the learners' identities as multilingual individuals with their own voice and agency. If learners do not see their academic, linguistic, and cultural identities affirmed and reflected in the classroom, they may struggle to engage with their learning (Cummins et al., 2005;Cummins et al., 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
Supporting Ontario’s diverse multilingual learners (MLs) requires more than “just good teaching” (de Jong & Harper, 2005, p. 102). MLs’ success is tied to specific teacher knowledge, attitudes, and pedagogical moves based on linguistically responsive teaching (Lucas & Villegas, 2013). This study investigated the perspectives of teachers, curriculum leaders, and consultants regarding how MLs can best be supported, their challenges and successes in working with MLs, and what needs to change in teacher education to achieve the goal of supporting MLs across their curricula. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 teachers currently working with MLs in Ontario, organized around their personal and professional backgrounds and experiences, issues faced in supporting MLs, perspectives on how Ontario’s policies impact their work, and opinions about how to enable future teachers to develop necessary skills to support MLs. Findings from an inductive thematic analysis of the interviews suggest the need for teachers to connect with MLs through shared language learning experiences, use assetbased, linguistically responsive and translanguaging approaches, and involve parents and communities. The findings also highlight issues around policy accessibility, the lack of specialized training, and inadequate resources. Finally, the study makes recommendations for preparing future teachers with practical strategies to support MLs in K–12 classrooms. Le soutien des divers apprenants multilingues de l’Ontario exige plus que « just good teaching » (de Jong et Harper, 2005, p. 102). La réussite des multilingues est liée à la connaissance spécifique des enseignants, aux attitudes et aux mouvements pédagogiques fondés sur un enseignement répondant aux besoins linguistiques (Lucas et Villegas, 2013). Cette étude examine les perspectives des enseignants, des responsables de programmes et des consultants sur la façon dont on peut optimiser le soutien aux multilingues, les défis et les réussites rencontrés en travaillant avec les multilingues et ce qui a besoin de changer dans la formation des enseignants pour qu’ils parviennent à apporter du soutien aux multilingues dans tous leurs programmes. On a effectué des entrevues semi-structurées auprès de 11 enseignants travaillant avec des multilingues en Ontario. Ces entrevues étaient organisées autour de leurs antécédents et expériences personnels et professionnels, des problèmes auxquels ils avaient fait face dans le soutien des multilingues, de leurs perspectives sur la manière dont les politiques ontariennes influencent leur travail et de leur opinion sur la façon de permettre aux futurs enseignants d’acquérir les habiletés nécessaires pour soutenir les multilingues. Les résultats tirés d’une analyse thématique inductive des entrevues suggèrent que les enseignants doivent établir des liens avec les multilingues en partageant leurs expériences d’apprentissage linquistique, en utilisant des approches fondées sur les atouts, adaptées sur le plan linguistique et du translanguaging, et en faisant participer les parents et les communautés. Les résultats soulignent également les problèmes concernant les politiques d’accessibilité, le manque de formation et les ressources inadéquates. Pour finir, l’étude propose des recommandations pour préparer les futurs enseignants à l’aide de stratégies pratiques afin de soutenir les multilingues dans les salles de classe de la maternelle à la 12e année.
... The L1 can play a crucial role in this resource by promoting clarity and understanding both at home and in the classroom. The multilingual capacity of the Storybooks Canada resource thereby creates space for affirming linguistic identities of learners and their families, extending pro-active welcoming gestures, and cultivating a sense of belonging (Cummins et al., 2005). ...
Article
Full-text available
In response to Canada’s growing ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity, educators in French immersion classrooms are increasingly responding with enhanced cross-linguistic initiatives, and dual language books are promising resources in the promotion of multilingualism (Zaidi, 2020; Zaidi & Dooley, 2021). This paper details a research project we completed in a 2019 classroom-based qualitative case study in a French immersion school experiencing an increasing enrollment of linguistically diverse students. The researchers sought to determine if Storybooks Canada, a free digital platform with 40 dual language books in multiple languages, could help promote literacy engagement and strengthen home-school connections. Five teacher participants identified a range of features that make the platform a useful resource for promoting literacy engagement, text comprehension, learner autonomy, meaning-making, and instructional differentiation. These included (i) the multilingual features, (ii) the ability to project stories on a large screen, (iii) the audio component, (iv) the illustrations, and (v) the different levels of text difficulty. While teachers made almost exclusive use of the French language features of the site, for classroom purposes, they supported cross-linguistic uses of the platform in the home context, with a view of strengthening home-school connections.
... In support of Brown and Levinson, other researchers agree that the form of politeness varies from one culture or subculture to another because cultural presuppositions held by interlocutors might be fundamentally different. Therefore, culture is now recognized as important in language acquisition, both in terms of teaching target cultural norms (Crozet, 2003;Liddicoat & Crozet, 2000), and in terms of the relevance of learner's home culture to their learning (Cummins et al., 2005;Flory & McCaughtry, 2011). ...
Article
Full-text available
This research discusses the importance of developing cross-cultural competence among students of English language. It is argued that examples taken from real life conversations enacted in different contexts can be used as pedagogical material to teach students of English how the use of speech acts varies from one cultural context to another cultural context. Understanding this difference can help encourage mutual understanding and mutual respect between interlocutors coming from different cultural contexts. In this research, data were collected from real life conversations enacted in different Asian contexts. Qualitative analysis of the collected data showed that socio-cultural norms affect the way language speakers speak and write language in a wide range of contexts. It is suggested that dialogue-based language input of speech acts taken from real life examples can help students of English understand the importance of socio-cultural context in which speech acts are embedded. Keywords: Asian, conversations, competence, cross-cultural, cultural, English, pedagogical, teach
Article
This research explores the learner identity of female students learning English as a second language (ESL) at a public university in Pakistan through digital texts of identity (DTIs) created by them and learners’ associations of educational experiences across time and locations which impact their emergent identities. Following the poststructuralist framework on identity negotiation and “thematic” and “dialogic/performative” analysis, and image analysis framework by Kress and van Leeuwen, 33 DTIs were gathered and analyzed from 10 female ESL learners. The function of gender as a fundamental identity marker in educational experiences was investigated in particular, in order to demonstrate how social identity is established through multiple discourses. The study highlights DTIs’ ability to strengthen learners’ identities and promote more empowered identities through diverse learning environments. The main argument of the research is that female learners use digital stories to create an interpersonal space that expresses strong ties between their family and everyday locations, such as university, and the target language population, all of which shape their social identities as women and learners. The participants felt empowered by associating themselves with competent users of English making authority claims, developing their authority in and via their digital texts.
Chapter
For decades, international researchers and educators have sought to understand how to address cultural and linguistic diversity in education. This book offers the keys to doing so: it brings together short biographies of thirty-six scholars, representing a wide range of universities and countries, to allow them to reflect on their own personal life paths, and how their individual life experiences have led to and informed their research. This approach highlights how theories and concepts have evolved in different contexts, while opening up pedagogical possibilities from diverse backgrounds and enriched by the life experiences of leading researchers in the field. Beyond these questions, the book also explores the dynamic relationships between languages, power and identities, as well as how these relationships raise broader societal issues that permeate both global and local language practices. It is essential reading for students, teacher educators, and researchers interested in the impact of multilingualism on education.
Article
Full-text available
We investigated Finnish primary school teachers’ understandings of processes of language learning, their reported linguistically responsive practices, their reported professional learning needs, and the links between these. The teachers (n = 246) responded to an online survey. Frequencies, possible links between the teachers’ background factors and their understandings and reported practices (one-way analysis of variance) and possible correlations between teachers’ understandings, reported practices and personal learning needs were investigated. Respondents had a solid understanding regarding the investigated language learning processes and reported using additional semiotic scaffolding practices, such as visual cues, most often. Over half of the respondents reported needing more information about their students’ backgrounds, experiences, and skills. The teachers with the highest levels of understanding reported using linguistically responsive practices the most and also sought the most professional learning. However, most Finnish primary school teachers would benefit from both theoretical and practical training in linguistically responsive pedagogy.
Article
This qualitative study compared the availability of, access to, and use of new technologies in a group of low– and high–socioeconomic status (SES) California high schools. Although student-computer ratios in the schools were similar, the social contexts of computer use differed, with low-SES schools affected by uneven human support networks, irregular home access to computers by students, and pressure to raise school test scores while addressing the needs of large numbers of English learners. These differences were expressed within three main patterns of technology access and use, labeled performativity, workability, and complexity, each of which shaped schools’ efforts to deploy new technologies for academic preparation.
Article
In our theoretical framework, reading engagement entails multiple perspectives on reading that consist of motivational dispositions, cognitive strategies, conceptual understanding, and social discourse. Possessing these attributes, engaged readers are typically higher achievers than less engaged readers, who show fewer of these qualities or less integration among them. Because engaged readers spend 500% more time reading than disengaged students, educators should attempt to increase engaged reading time by 200%-500%. This may require substantial reconfigurations of curriculum. However, engaged reading is unique because it is both an effective means to achievement (engaged students improve in reading more than disengaged students) and a valued end or educational outcome. A research gap today is the lack of refined, empirical understanding about classroom practices that promote engagement. We designed Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction (CORI) to foster engagement through conceptual themes, hands-on experiences, self-directed learning, interesting texts, classroom discourse, and time for extended reading. For professional development, we attempt to convey the experiences, theory, beliefs, performances, and texts that will enable teachers to implement and generate instruction for engaged reading and learning.
Article
The false claims about reading and reading instruction made by the 2000 National Reading Panel (NRP) are presented. Sufficient evidences to challenge all the claims made by NRP are also highlighted.
Article
Analyzes research in the phonics section of the Report of the National Reading Panel to examine what the data, as opposed to the Panel's interpretation and reporting of the data, say about the role of phonics in reading instruction. Suggests the methodology of the Report is flawed, and results reported in the Summary are not supported by the Panel's own data. (SG)