5. Professional development for staff working in multilingual schools – Jim Anderson, Christine Hélot, Joanna McPake and Vicky Obied




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PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR STAFF WORKING IN MULTILINGUAL SCHOOLS


Europe in the 21st century has entered the age of superdiversity (Vertovec, 2007)1. But despite growing numbers of students with diverse language histories attending school across Europe, systematic and structured professional education to prepare teachers and educational managers for work in multilingual schools is still relatively rare. Both initial teacher education and professional development for mainstream teachers tend not to problematise the language of schooling, assuming that all students are fully fluent, competent users of the language, in and out of the classroom. Even teachers with particular responsibility for supporting the linguistic development of students of migrant origin may have trained originally in other disciplines, such as teaching the language of schooling as a subject, teaching modern languages, or providing support for learning, and may have had little or no opportunity to adapt their existing knowledge to linguistically diverse classrooms. Few leadership education programmes for educational managers address the challenges of running a multilingual school, and thus managers are, typically, ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of language education policy and practice.


Professional development needs to address three significant areas:

i) Supporting language acquisition and development

There is a need to support students’ linguistic acquisition and development, both in the language of schooling and in the other languages they use outside the school - as well as to those (‘modern’ or ‘foreign’ languages) they are learning at school, in line with the model set out in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. In many cases, this work is delegated to specialist teachers – those who specialise in teaching the language of schooling to learners with diverse language backgrounds and those who support students’ continued progression, including, often, their acquisition of literacy, in their other languages.


Furthermore, it has long been recognised that all teachers in multilingual schools – whether generalists working across the curriculum with younger students or subject specialists working with older students – need enhanced awareness of the linguistic demands of the curriculum and sophisticated skills to make it accessible to students from a variety of language backgrounds, and at different stages of competence in the language of schooling. There is a long history of attention to language and literacy across the curriculum in Anglophone countries, addressing ways in which linguistic competence contributes to academic achievement in every school subject area; research in this field is usefully summarised by May & Wright (2007).2 The implications are discussed in more detail in a companion paper (n° 2) in this series: Languages of Schooling: Focusing on Vulnerable Learners, putting forward the compelling argument that every teacher is a language teacher, not just the teacher of the language of schooling as a subject, or the specialist teacher who teaches the language of schooling to children of migrant origin. The idea and scope of literacy pedagogy can also be extended to include the concept of multiliteracies, to account for the ‘the multifarious cultures that interrelate and the plurality of texts that circulate’ (Cazden et al. 1996, 61)3.


Professional education must address all staff working in multilingual schools, not only the language specialists. Specialists will require detailed and specific professional education in language learning and teaching and in the challenges of delivering a language-rich education in multilingual schools at every stage of their careers. Mainstream staff in multilingual schools need support both to recognise that every teacher is a language teacher, and to understand how they can best fulfil this role.


ii) Linking language and learning

There is a need to make the connection between students’ developing competence in the language of schooling and their broader educational progress and attainment. There has been a tendency in the past either to assume that when students with diverse language histories achieve a satisfactory level of competence in the language of schooling, their educational attainment will then match that of their peers who have been competent in this language from the outset; or alternatively, that lower educational attainment on the part of students with diverse language histories can be explained entirely on the basis of their lack of competence in the language of schooling. But there is now a substantial body of research to indicate that this is a more complex issue: see for example, Baker’s discussion (2001)4 of cognitive theories of bilingualism and the curriculum and García’s review5 (2009) of bilingual education pedagogy and practices.


Furthermore, students whose language histories are diverse in many cases also have more diverse educational histories. For example, they may have moved from one country to another in the course of their educational careers and as a result have had to shift their learning from one language to another. This is not simply a question of acquiring an alternative set of terms. Different countries may teach topics in a different order and they may prioritise different aspects of a particular topic. Pedagogical approaches may also vary very substantially. The change of language can make it difficult for students to make the connection with what they learned before. Schools which prioritise only the language of schooling and place little or no value on students’ continued progression in their other languages may exacerbate this difficulty, effectively cutting students off from prior learning. There can be similar barriers for students who attend both mainstream schools where they study via the language of schooling and complementary schools6, in the evenings or at weekends, to develop competence in their other languages and study topics of cultural significance to their communities through these languages. However, where teachers and educational managers recognise students with diverse language histories as having additional linguistic and educational resources to draw on, and are able to develop pedagogical approaches which value these, there is a greater chance of engaging these students and of improving attainment levels as a result. Rassool (2004: 205)7 argues that multiple identities and cultural hybridity may become empowering for children if linguistic diversity is sustained and linguistic possibilities are opened up. She views multilingualism as a form of cultural capital and that transmigratory peoples are engaged in a continually evolving ‘process of self-definition and self-identification’.8


Professional education for serving teachers and for those preparing for leadership in multilingual schools therefore needs to address the connections between language and learning to develop effective educational programmes which not only minimise the possible disadvantages of disrupted educational careers but also build on the potential benefits of diverse experiences and linguistic competences.


iii) Language policy and social justice

The philosophy underlying provision to support all students’ developing plurilingualism needs to draw on wider debates on social justice in education, as discussed in the opening paper. However, although all European educational institutions will subscribe to fundamental democratic values, including social inclusion, social cohesion and respect for diversity, teachers and educational managers have to address quite specifically the ways in which these values apply in the context of a multilingual school. Training and professional development in this field tends to focus on ethnicity, culture and religion rather than language; and language issues perhaps create greater challenges because of the number of choices, some mutually exclusive, which the context may present.


For example, one interpretation of the social cohesion agenda might be that students are expected to use the language of schooling at all times in school. This would mean that no conversations could be conducted, or texts used, in languages which only some people know (leaving others, perhaps, feeling excluded); and such a rule might also contribute to a sense of shared identity, given that the use of many different languages might, conversely, contribute to a sense of social fragmentation. But such an approach could also run counter to social inclusion perspectives: insisting that all pupils use the language of schooling when not all are fluent speakers or have developed literacy in this language will prevent some voices from being heard; and could also be interpreted as meaning that the language of schooling is the only language of value. It is a small step from insisting that the language of schooling is used at all times in the school to recommending to parents that it is used at home too, so that students from homes where other languages are used do not feel at a disadvantage at school. But clearly, such an expectation would contradict families’ human rights (to use the language of their choice in their own homes) and indeed negate other activities promoting plurilingualism.9


Professional education needs to address issues of language policy in the context of the school, so that teachers and educational managers can respond sensitively to questions of which languages can or should be used in which contexts, for which purposes, and by whom, whether in classrooms or in communal areas within the school.


The resources

This section collates existing resources which can be used to support teachers and managers working in multilingual schools. All staff will need professional development addressing the three key areas identified above – supporting students’ linguistic development, linking language and learning, and devising and implementing school language policies in the context of the social justice agenda. Different kinds of professional education will be required, depending on their role and on career stage. For these reasons, the resources collated here have been categorised according to the different areas they address, and to the categories of educational professionals for whom they are likely to be most useful.




Areas of professional development


Target groups


A:

Supporting language acquisition

and development

B:

Linking language and learning

C:

Language policy

and social justice

I: Specialists

  1. Bilingual assistant

6, 11, 17, 18, 20, 27, 33, 38, 41, 42, 45, 46, 47

6, 11, 18, 20, 27, 33, 38, 41, 42, 45, 46, 47

11, 17, 18, 20, 23, 27, 33, 38, 41, 42, 45, 46

  1. Language of schooling subject teacher

2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 13, 14, 14, 16, 19, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33, 37, 39, 42, 45, 46

2, 5, 6, 11, 14, 16, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33, 36, 39, 41, 42, 45, 46, 49

2, 4, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 21, 23, 26, 27, 28, 30, 33, 34, 36, 39, 41, 42, 45, 49

  1. Language of schooling teacher to those learning this as an additional language

2, 5, 6, 8, 10, 14, 17, 19, 26, 27, 29, 32, 33, 41, 42, 45

2, 5, 6, 14, 22, 26, 27, 29, 32, 33, 36, 41, 42, 45

2, 10, 12, 17, 23, 26, 27, 33, 36, 41, 42, 45

  1. Teacher of other languages

1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 9, 10, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47

5, 6, 14, 18, 20, 22, 27, 29, 32, 33, 36, 38, 39, 41, 42, 45, 46, 47

4, 7, 10, 12, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 27, 30, 31, 33, 34, 36, 38, 39, 41, 42, 45, 46

  1. Subject leader for language(s)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47

2, 5, 6, 18, 20, 22, 26, 27, 29, 32, 36, 38, 39, 42, 46, 47

2, 4, 7, 10, 12, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 30, 31, 33, 34, 36, 38, 39, 41, 42, 45, 46

II: Mainstream










  1. Classroom assistant

11, 26, 27, 32, 33, 37, 38, 41, 45, 46, 48, 49

11, 26, 27, 32, 33, 38, 41, 45, 46

2, 11, 13, 23, 26, 27, 33, 38, 41, 45, 48, 49

  1. Pre-school/ Primary teacher

2, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 14, 19, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33, 35, 37, 40, 41, 45, 46, 48

2, 5, 6, 11, 14, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33, 36, 40, 45, 46

2, 10, 11, 12, 13, 23, 26, 27, 28, 33, 36, 40, 45, 48

  1. Secondary teacher

2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 13, 14, 14, 16, 19, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33, 37, 39, 42, 45, 46, 49

2, 5, 6, 11, 14, 16, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33, 36, 39, 41, 42, 45, 46, 49

2, 4, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 21, 23, 26, 27, 28, 30, 33, 34, 36, 39, 41, 42, 45, 49

  1. Learning support teacher




2, 6, 10, 14, 15, 27, 33

2, 6, 14, 27, 33

2, 6, 10, 14, 23, 27, 33




III: Management, monitoring & support

  1. Senior manager/ headteacher

2, 5, 10, 11, 13, 14, 26, 27, 28, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 45, 48, 49

2, 5, 11, 22, 26, 27, 28, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41, 45, 48, 49

2, 4, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 21, 23, 26, 27, 28, 30, 34, 36, 38, 402c, 3, 41, 45, 48, 49

  1. Governor

1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 17, 6, 20, 21, 22, 25, 28, 30, 31, 34, 35, 43, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49

18, 20, 22, 28, 36, 46, 47, 48, 49

1, 4, 7, 12, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 28, 30, 31, 34, 36, 46, 48, 49

  1. Inspector


1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 21, 22, 25, 30, 31, 34, 35, 43, 44, 46, 48, 49


2, 22, 36, 46, 48, 49


1, 2, 4, 7, 12, 212, 23, 24, 30, 31, 34, 36, 46, 48, 49

  1. Adviser


3, 4, 7, 9, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 25, 28, 30, 31, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49


18, 20, 22, 28, 36, 38, 39, 41, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49


1, 4, 7, 12, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 28, 30, 31, 34, 36, 38, 39, 41, 45, 46, 48, 49

IV: Teacher educators

  1. Lecturer in teacher education




2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 15, 16, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35, 38, 39, 40, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49

2, 5, 11, 16, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 34, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 46, 47, 48, 49

2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 34, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 46, 48, 49



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