Globalization has not only changed our society, it has also had a profound effect on education. Many schools deal with student populations which, due to migration, are increasingly
multilingual. Politically, few argue against the importance of multilingualism; rather, it is promoted. However, in practical terms the challenges associated with teaching and educational policies have increased as a result of linguistic diversity among
student bodies. Moreover, reading is certainly regarded as a key learning skill, but how is the students’ life-world multilingualism (LWMUL) taken into consideration?
Previous research suggests that there are significant links between teachers’ beliefs and practices, making this a compelling issue. The overall aim of this study was thus to gain a deeper understanding on teachers’ beliefs and strategies when teaching reading
in multilingual settings. Using a cross-disciplinary, qualitative research methodology approach, the empirical inquiry consists of case studies with different, linguistically diverse settings. The case studies include classroom observations as well as teacher interviews in German, Swedish and Chilean grade 4 classrooms.
After a qualitative content analysis in three analysis procedures, the results suggest dualistic beliefs being exhibited by the teachers. The separation of languages is believed to be of major importance, thus providing space almost exclusively for the academic
language of instruction. This is reflected in the teachers’ strategies, leading to a static implementation, in which the students’ life-world multilingual resources (MULR) are generally not included. A lack of professional competence could be observed in
issues regarding multilingualism, allowing beliefs rather than evidence-based knowledge to be the deciding factor in the practice. Four types of strategies for teaching reading in multilingual settings were identified, and an inattentive type of strategy, including
a blindness to difference, seems to dominate.
Keywords: teachers’ beliefs, teaching strategies, teaching implementation, linguistic diversity, multilingualism, Germany, Sweden, Chile, Grade 4