Multilingual Britain: Successes, challenges and future directions
Our 28th Annual Conference
Saturday November 21st 2020, 9am-5pm
Online Conference (via Zoom)
NALDIC’s 28th annual conference focused on multilingual Britain and looked at the successes, challenges faced and future directions.
What were the formats for our first online conference?
Papers: The presentations were designed to provide time and space to report on classroom practice/research findings related to the conference theme. Like a face-to-face conference, these sessions were delivered ‘live’ (30 minutes including Q&A).
Posters: These were designed to provide opportunities to present a brief overview of classroom practice/research. Like a face-to-face conference, the online posters were available to view throughout the day.
Dr Vicky Macleroy
Goldsmiths, University of London
Vicky Macleroy is a Reader in Education and Head of the Research Centre for Language, Culture and Learning at Goldsmiths, University of London and co-ordinates the MA Children’s Literature: Creative Writing Pathway programme. Vicky’s research focuses on language development; creative writing practices; poetry; multiliteracies; and transformative pedagogy. Vicky has led research projects in the field of multilingualism and literacy. Vicky was principal investigator with Jim Anderson of a global literacy project funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, ‘Critical Connections Multilingual Digital Storytelling’ (2012-2017), that uses digital storytelling to support engagement with language learning and digital literacy. Vicky continues to lead multilingual digital storytelling projects funded by the Language Acts and Worldmaking AHRC project and a public engagement grant from Goldsmiths (2018-2021).
Dr. Bonny Norton (FRSC)
University of British Columbia, Canada
Dr. Bonny Norton (FRSC) is a Professor and Distinguished University Scholar in the Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia, Canada. Her primary research interests are identity and language learning, digital storytelling, and open technology. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the American Educational Research Association, she was awarded BC CUFA 2020 Academic of the Year for her leadership of the Global Storybooks project (https://globalstorybooks.net/).
Alongside accepted presentations and posters, we were delighted to have introduced a new feature of the conference, the plenary panel of 6 “Voices from the Field”, whose professional work, teaching practice and research covers a wide range of EAL learners’ experiences: Feyisa Demie, Rehana Ahmed, Karamat Iqbal, Samira Moradi, Kamil Trzebiatowski and Heather Smith.
Read more about Feyisa
Read more about Rehana
Read more about Karamat
Read more about Samira
Read more about Kamil
Read more about Heather
Feyisa Demie is an Honorary Professor at Durham University School of Education and also head of research and adviser for school self-evaluation at Lambeth local authority. Feyisa has worked extensively with Local Authorities, government departments, schools and school governors for over 27 years in the use of data and research to raise achievement.
Read more about Feyisa
Rehana Ahmed is Managing Director of HLS Ltd after being Head of Hounslow Language Service and has worked in the field of EAL for over 20 years. Rehana co-ordinated the EAL training programme delivered across London for London Challenge and has delivered seminars, workshops and conferences across the country on the full range of EAL issues, including EAL and ICT.
Read more about Rehana
Karamat Iqbal has been an education and diversity practitioner for more than 40 years. He has had various roles in multicultural education – teacher, adviser, consultant and researcher. Karamat’s personal and professional trajectory has run parallel with the birth, growth and death (at least officially) of multicultural education.
Read more about Karamat
Samira Moradi has recently accepted an offer of PhD in language education from Bristol University and is a qualified secondary English teacher (PGCert) and EAL Subject Lead. Samira started her career as an ESOL teacher after graduation from BA Hons English Literature, Shahid Beheshti University of Tehran.
Read more about Samira
Kamil Trzebiatowski joined The Bell Foundation in September 2018 and holds the post of Digital Resource Developer. Prior to joining the Foundation, Kamil spent 18 years teaching English as a Foreign Language and English as an Additional Language (Poland, England and Scotland) in mainstream secondary classrooms.
Read more about Kamil
Heather Smith is a senior lecturer of education at Newcastle University and Docent Chair of Multicultural Teacher Education at Helsinki University, Finland. Heather’s teaching and research focuses on developing greater understandings about and action for race and language equality.
Read more about Heather
‘We only speak English here’- A whole school approach to changing attitudes and behaviour in a multilingual school
This presentation describes one school’s continuing journey from a position of conflicting understandings about home and additional language use amongst staff, pupils and families, towards a more cohesive approach which puts home language use at its centre and strives to include all members of the school community. The presentation describes a collaboration between EAL specialists and school staff and the actions taken to understand the starting point and to move towards a more multilingual context. It will take participants through the stages of this process: – Noticing a developing picture of negative attitudes towards the use of home language in the classroom and school in general around the school – Consulting with school staff to look at and consider:
- the opportunities and challenges of working in a school with a majority of pupils and families with English as an Additional Language and one dominant home language
- drawing on pupil and family views on home language use at school
- tying this together by developing a school language use guidance
- embedding the language guidance in all aspects of school life
- facing new challenges
There will be opportunities throughout the presentation to reflect and draw comparisons and contrasts with your own setting and context, as well for collegiate discussions and the sharing of ideas.
The Management of EAL Provision in High-Need Schools
Improving attainment and wellbeing for pupils with EAL The management of EAL provision in high-need schools can often require a massive amount of support. Claire Evans discusses ‘best-practice’ strategies for schools to succeed and addresses ways in which we can better support EAL pupils. Claire Evans is Deputy Head and Lead Teacher for EAL at Anderton Park School, where 93% of students are EAL, speaking over 40 home languages. Anderton Park Primary is a very ambitious and positive school, surrounded by a fantastic community. Everyone is committed to providing an outstanding education for pupils at the school and the entire community is incredibly passionate about the part they play in promoting equality and inclusion. In this session Claire will share some strategies that they are using to support the high number of EAL pupils at their school including:
- Ways to support pupils with their mental health and wellbeing
- How to tackle the word gap and help pupils with EAL to master a wide range of vocabulary.
- Strategies for supporting classes with a wide range of home languages
- How to build an effective EAL Team – she recently gave this presentation as a free webinar which attracted over 800 educators.
Making Language Visible: UASC in Care
Fiona will share her research findings from her MEd. Bilingualism in Education dissertation. This research sought to identify the extent to which carers of unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) in care, are supported, and in turn support UASC in their linguistic journey through care. It identified areas of provision which were linguistic deserts. These were identified from the point of UASC arrival in care, where UASC were placed with carers, through to key aspects of provision whilst in care and their journey into education. It looked at the ways in which carers sought to support participation and engagement with communities and helped the children they cared for with approaches to support English language learning and L1 maintenance. It examines the role of education and identifies a lack of holistic initial assessments, as UASC enter provision, resulting in funds of knowledge being overlooked and resultant provision being limited to the narrow curriculum option of ESOL. This research identifies potential recommendations to enhance provision within care but also points to ways forward to support UASC as they enter education.
How can we better support and assess children who have English as an Additional Language? An action research study
The presentation reports on a qualitative action research study which took place in a local private nursery, with the aim of improving practice to support and assess children who have English as an Additional Language (EAL). Despite EAL children representing the norm in mainstream schools of the United Kingdom (NALDIC, 2019b), little guidance is available to teachers (Safford and Drury, 2013), originating misconceptions that prevent multilingual learners from receiving tailored support and assessment. Additionally, home language and culture, fundamental to acquire EAL, are rarely implemented in the classroom, leaving children’s real abilities unrecognised (Kenner, 2004; Drury, 2007). As an insider-researcher I guided the development of a collaborative inquiry which unfolded in three stages (Understanding values and beliefs; Initial findings and interpretations; Discussing possible future action), applying three qualitative methods (questionnaires, interviews and focus group). The analysis of data unveils participants’ perception of other languages and how these perceptions influence the way home language is supported. The study suggests that the nursery approaches are determinate by a monolingual culture which sees English as the mainstream language, and home language only as a tool to access education. Speaking English is the main medium for learning and, as a consequence, the assessment of young children only in English is seen as the norm. Thus, monolingual ideologies, which are shared amongst parents and teachers, generate barriers and misconceptions that preclude accurate support and assessment of EAL pupils. Overall, the study advocates for a critical reflection on how to implement home language and culture in the nursery, along with increased sensitivity to other forms of communication. While exploring the dynamics concerning support and assessment of EAL children in a particular, real context, the study calls for an urgent review of policies and practice related to EAL learning in the Early Years.
EAL & GCSE Geography Class
I work at Cockburn John Charles Academy in Leeds. This multicultural secondary school offers education to speakers of 45 different languages, who make up 50% of the student population. In this presentation, I would like to present our ways of supporting a cohort of EAL students throughout their learning in Year 9. The majority of those students were new to the country and almost all of them had a very limited grasp of English when they started the course. The most successful teaching methods were: adapting resources and text books by simplifying the language, adding guide questions and visuals; focusing on lesson preparation homework, and organising interventions. This approach was stimulating for students on different levels and enabled everyone to take an active part in the geography lessons. Following the whole-school strategy, the students were focusing on vocabulary but their learning included all types of practices: listening, speaking (drilling tasks), reading, and writing. Therefore, there was a multisensory learning style adapted and supported by the dual coding system used in the lesson presentations. Most of the geographical graphs and charts were presented with reference to realistic photographs, so the learners could understand and memorise the visual concepts better. To make the learning experience even more memorable, some students were recording videos of their own presentations. This activity became a useful tool used in the revision sessions and a very practical speaking rehearsal. Summarising, the new approach showed that even difficult geographical terms and contexts can be understood by new to English students when the appropriate resources and methods are being used in lessons.
The Young Interpreter Scheme: staff experiences of participation
In this paper I talk about my research evaluating the Hampshire Young Interpreter Scheme. The award-winning Young Interpreter Scheme is a school-friendly programme that supports EAL learners through the use of trained ‘buddies’.
My study gathered survey information to investigate motivation for taking part in the scheme, approach to home language maintenance, the perceived cultural, and social wellbeing effects of their participation in the scheme, and teachers’ attitudes towards EAL students and the support that they provide to them. A volunteer sample of 65 education staff in schools running the YIS responded to a questionnaire designed to collect quantitative and qualitative responses on four main areas; demographic information, views on teaching children with English as an additional language, views on intercultural awareness and experiences of running the YIS and observed effects on pupils involved. The focus of this talk will be on the quantitative data for experiences of running the YIS, intercultural awareness, social and emotional well-being, and views around teaching children with EAL from staff working in schools that are currently running the YIS.
This talk will be interesting for schools and teachers wanting to know more about low-cost, pupil-led, sustainable ways of supporting their EAL learners’ language and literacy development.
Roma – Narrowing the Gap
Queen Katharine Academy (QKA) is a large, inner-city secondary school in Peterborough with a majority EAL cohort, predominantly made up of first-generation migrants. Within this cohort are large numbers of European Gypsy-Roma (10% ascribed / 18% suspected). This paper details the range of initiatives that have been embedded at QKA to better engage and support its Roma cohort. Four years ago, Roma at QKA achieved on average a grade and a half below the national average and behaviour and attendance were key concerns. Today, QKA’s Roma cohort achieves on average a grade above the national average for their demographic, behaviour and attendance are good with absence / persistent absence well above the national average. This year a QKA Roma student gained a place at Aberystwyth University after achieving an A and B at A Level, and the number of Roma staying on at 6th Form increases year-on-year. This paper aims to support schools that have European Roma within their cohorts, by outlining the processes QKA have developed to support community cohesion, build trust and support success. This includes:
- Outcomes from initial research visits to Roma settlements in Slovakia and Poland.
- The value of employing Roma support and teaching staff and working with the local and wider Roma community.
- Details of aspirational student projects and leadership schemes specifically for Roma.
- Outcomes and legacy of the Parallel Lives Roma project coordinated by the East of England Local Government Association which ran from 2018 to 2020 and provided wide-reaching training and support to organisations working with Roma communities in the East of England.
Living with physical constraints: Why translanguaging matters now even more
Many activities nowadays begin with the mantra: during covid-19… or because of covid-19… These words have framed our physical conditions, our practices, our bodies, our languages. In this presentation, I make an argument for the importance of adopting a translingual pedagogy as a corrective to current directives to keep school and home and other spaces of social interactions apart, at a metaphorical 2-m distance. I exemplify my reflections by drawing on a recent project, entitled “Creative Language Practices: Exploring Translanguaging in Pedagogical Contexts and Beyond” (2018-2019). This project aimed to support teachers in classrooms exploring the concept of translanguaging and implementing innovative arts-based activities by working in collaboration with artists. I draw on some of the pedagogical activities developed in that project as a way to frame the conditions of language learning that we are currently facing. Using the toolkit that we have developed, I argue that the upcoming period will ask us to make real efforts to keep languages in touch rather than at a distance so that the physical restrictions of our spaces do not become hard barriers towards living multilingually.
Un-/learning mono-/multilingualism: insights from the primary school
Multilingual pedagogies, which acknowledge and respond to the fact that an increasing number of children grow up in their daily life with more than one language, is an emerging yet contested area of pedagogy in primary schools (Hélot, Sneddon and Daly 2014; Little and Kirwan 2019). It is an area that remains challenging for many class teachers and is under considerable pressure in those classrooms where working conditions impose limits on the EAL specialists’ influence on everyday teaching and learning. In this paper, I would like to present insights from an ethnographic study that was conducted in three maintained inner-city primary schools. While the study’s overall focus was on teacher agency in multilingual pedagogies, the presentation draws on instances that help to understand how a monolingual norm is established in the official classroom for children new to English and maintained for the other plurilingual pupils. At the same time, the classroom contexts and teachers’ perceptions point to some tensions and possibilities within the status quo. The findings suggest that class teachers can draw on pedagogical experiences that can orient their work towards the inclusion of children’s plurilingual repertoires. The presentation emphasises the significance of including the languages of all plurilingual children to open up spaces for those pupils who are new to English. Not least the study’s participatory activities, in which the children responded to the question of what they would like ‘to do with their languages in school’, encouraged to move multilingualism into the mainstream (primary school) of a multilingual Britain.
Teachers’ identification of language disorders in bilingual children: A study of attitudes
A common issue in UK schools is that teachers have difficulty recognising if bilingual pupils are typically developing or have additional needs like language disorders. Previous research has primarily focussed on the variable provision afforded to bilingual pupils (Jankowska, 2014; Strand & Lindsay, 2009), and deficit-focused language used to describe them (Cunningham, 2017). Teachers lack guidance, and may rely on their own attitudes (beliefs/opinions) to make decisions. Little previous research has examined what teachers think or do before other professionals, like speech and language therapists, become involved with these children. The aim of this project is to investigate if teachers’ attitudes directly predict their behaviours. Specifically, we will address whether teachers’ implicit and explicit attitudes towards bilingualism and their role in language disorder identification, predict teachers’ likelihood of referring bilingual children to other professionals. As a pilot study, forty-eight England-based primary school teachers completed an online language attitudes questionnaire (Byrnes & Kiger, 1994), and responded to vignettes describing EAL children with and without language disorders. The extent to which teachers’ attitudes were positive towards bilingualism made no difference to teachers’ accuracy when identifying language disorders in bilingual children (Parry, 2018). Informed by this, the current project will consist of three complementary studies, to fully investigate the attitude-behaviour relationship. Quantitative studies utilising a questionnaire and an Implicit Association Test, and a qualitative study employing interviews will identify and compare the breadth and depth of teachers’ explicit and implicit attitudes, and their behaviours. This project aims to provide new evidence for how teachers’ attitudes about bilingualism affect pedagogical decision-making for bilingual pupils. Teachers’ attitudes may influence teachers to refer to bilingual children unnecessarily, or not refer to them when they should be. This research will therefore help to suggest practical improvements to early identification procedures, school policy, teacher training, and ultimately bilingual pupil attainment.
Daniela Panniello & Dr Kyara Rojas-Bustos
University of Roehampton
Knowledge, spaces and dispositions towards language/s
This study examines language ideological constructions by parents and practitioners during their reflections about language practice for young children who speak more than one language in a private nursery in London. We aim to analyse the discursive construction of early language learning and dispositions towards language diversity (dispositions as defined by Bourdieu, 1977, 1991) in multicultural early years provision. Two key features are critically reviewed. The first relates to the discursive constructions of knowledge and expertise – what type of knowledge is valued, and who possesses that knowledge (Rojas-Bustos, 2020). The second feature focuses on (institutionalised) spaces, exploring the dichotomy between home-space and nursery-space for language learning (Rojas-Bustos, 2020; Cummins, 2017; Flores, 2013).
The data was collected as part of an action research conducted by one of the researchers at her place of work. Questionnaires, interviews, reflective journals and focus groups were analysed using critical discourse analysis, which enables the deconstruction of local discourses about language practice. The study revealed that the linguistic capital that parents and children bring into early years practice is mainly included under discourses of emotional support during the settling-in period. These practices are abandoned as soon as English is perceived as the only language that is needed to continue the child’s education. Our initial analysis suggests that monolingual and multilingual ideologies are in permanent shifting dominance. Local and external forces – within discourses of language knowledge and language spaces – influence what is considered as appropriate practice, creating significant tensions between what is perceived as ‘right for the child’ and what ‘can be done’. The final part of our study proposes concrete opportunities to move towards inclusive and plurilingual learning spaces for young children by interrogating perceptions of ‘barrier’ and celebrating plurilingual initiatives.
Safe, open, possible spaces? Moving the discussion on about multilingual learning at home and at school post lockdown
We are all very aware that our multilingual learners are not just multilingual: understanding the complexity of pupils’ learner identities is vital if we are to effectively support their learning. In this presentation, Kathryn shares insights from her ESRC funded PhD study which looked at how a group of Black, Muslim, Somali young people in secondary school, who had recently arrived in the UK and were considered to possibly need “educational help”, negotiated a sense of themselves as “possible learners” (Youdell 2006) at home and at school. The findings build on Conteh and Brock’s (2011) notion of “safe spaces” which challenged negative attitudes to multilingualism. They also recognise Kahin and Wallace’s (2017) push for supplementary schools to be “open spaces”, where disconnects between families’ and schools’ understanding of children and young people’s learning could be addressed. Moving these ideas on, Kathryn shows how, with effective communication between children and young people, their families, mainstream teachers and outside school support, we can create “possible spaces” to ensure that our pupils succeed. In the light of COVID-19, this notion places those pupils who are vulnerable to being “left behind” at the centre of our mainstream teaching and our communication with families, challenging us to maintain high expectations for all.
Disrupting monolingual mindsets: Heritage Language speakers’ responses to plurilingual ‘outlets’ in a mainstream secondary school setting
This paper reports on the use of multilingual ‘outlets’ to harness the linguistic repertoires of heritage language speakers in English dominant educational contexts. The research is positioned in the view that enhancing plurilingual language practices (García and Li Wei 2014) and embracing the view of bilingualism as ‘sets of resources’ (Heller 2007:15) is an unutilised yet valuable endeavour in terms of language development and identity (Smyth and Toohey 2009). Whilst there is a growing literature on the use of the L1 in multilingual classrooms, there is a paucity of studies that document student responses to its implementation. Participants in the study were EAL learners who have lived most of their lives in England, a group which is underrepresented in the literature, resulting in a lack of guidance for practitioners when planning for the needs of the full range of EAL students. The study was a within-site case study of 10 students who participated in a project designed to raise engagement with heritage languages in a mainstream school context. During a typical 90-minute classroom period, students would discuss language and access wider linguistic repertoires to carry out activities such as translation, multilingual poetry, individual presentations about languages and a whole group mural depicting the linguistic landscape of the group. To present an in-depth understanding of the case, I used participant observation field notes, audio recording, interviews and physical artefacts created by the students. Findings show that experimentation with multilingual practices in the classroom triggered an array of responses, ranging from resistance, to willingness to share new language and make use of linguistic repertoires not usually accessed in school settings. The students’ responses shed light on effective multilingual practices in terms of language awareness and linguistic reflection, reaching depths that may be less achievable through a monolingual lens.
Carolyn Letts; Sean Pert (University of Manchester, UK); Ewa Czaplewska (Uniwersytet Gdański Poland); Elaine Ashton; Kate Benson; Emily Preston; Helen Stringer; Anastasia Trebacz; Helen Wareham; Cristina McKean, Christine Jack – unless stated otherwise, University of Newcastle, UK
Working with bilingual children at risk of developmental language disorder: adapting assessment and intervention for the nursery-aged bilingual child
A proportion of all children (7.58%: RCSLT) have significant difficulty acquiring language, irrespective of whether this applies to their first and only language or to two or more languages acquired in a multilingual setting. These children have developmental language disorder (DLD) and once identified are supported in school by speech & language therapists working with SENDCOs and other school staff. The majority are slow to develop language in the preschool years and identification and intervention at that point is crucial for later education including literacy. This poses a problem for professionals if the child is bilingual; distinguishing overall language delay from lack of familiarity with the majority language and providing intervention in the home language are both problematic. This work is part of a larger project (LIVELY) investigating the effectiveness of an early language programme for 3-4 year olds who are at risk for DLD. The programme focuses on early word combinations and sentences of increasing complexity. We are conducting a number of case studies with children who are acquiring a home language and expected to learn English. For these children, the programme will be conducted in their home language. This involves adaptation of both language assessment and intervention material to this language, with the possibility of remote working with the child if dictated by the pandemic situation. In this presentation we describe the strategies used to make these adaptations to Polish and to Mirpuri (Pakistani Heritage language), both of which are spoken widely in the UK. While sentence structure differs across languages, the focus is on the unique events that can be communicated through early sentences, universal to all linguistic contexts. Specific issues that we have encountered in developing these adaptations will also be discussed. Language Intervention in the Early Years (LIVELY): https://research.ncl.ac.uk/lively/aboutlively/ Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists (RCSLT): https://www.rcslt.org/
Dr Gabriela Meier & Anita Wood
Reflection on multilingual activities in education: Presentation and evaluation of the free online M-SOC tool
In societies, monolingual norms are often perceived as common sense and not questioned. This means that many people may unconsciously adopt and perpetuate monolingual norms, since this is how they grew up and it is “what people have always done”. More recently, research has shown that:
- Societies are largely multilingual
- Learners in education are often multill
- It can be an advantage to be mul
- Many teachers use multilingual activities
- For some teachers, there is uncertainty about how best to support multilingualism
Based on the need for “user-friendly pedagogic guidance as part of more critical, cross-curricular, context-sensitive multilingual pedagogies” (Meier, 2018), we have developed the M-SOC tool (Meier and Wood, 2019), which invites teachers/tutors/lecturers to reflect on their experiences, practices, interests and challenges related to using multilingual approaches in any type and at any level of education. The M-SOC tool is a free, ready-made, online resource for professional development, which has been received enthusiastically by some colleagues:
- “Wow, what an interesting unit! I really enjoyed it and it got me thinking.” (teacher educator, UK)
- “Very simple to use and a great audit tool.” (primary teacher, UK)
- “a lot of these things can be done day-to-day without a huge amount of planning” (newly qualified teacher, UK)
Friedman (2010) describes the powerful roles teachers play in the linguistic socialising process of students. She argues that educators can perpetuate traditional practices, but they can also facilitate social change, depending on how they think and act. Through the M-SOC tool, we invite teachers to think about their own role in this, and perhaps inspire colleagues to try out some (more) multilingual activities.