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ResearchCenter for Language and Cognition

LANSPAN Colloquium: 'A holistic approach towards multilingualism in education' (Mirjam Günther, NHL Stenden)

When:We 18-12-2019 16:15 - 17:30


This talk presents recent developments around multilingual education in the three northern provinces of the Netherlands. It is set within the current context of regional minority languages, such as Frisian and Low Saxon, growingly encountering migrant-induced language diversity. The typical insistence on the national languages as main languages of schooling (Kroon & Spotti, 2011) is based on the idea that immersion in each of the target languages triggers the best outcomes, thus leading to language separation pedagogies. For example, in Frisian trilingual education, the three instruction languages (Frisian, Dutch and English) are still often kept apart in instruction (Arocena & Gorter, 2013). However, research has repeatedly shown the importance of using all language resources of multilingual pupils in optimizing learning (Cummins, 2008; Cenoz & Gorter, 2011). Against this backdrop, recent developments for multilingual education in these regions focus on achieving:

  a)    less separation between the instruction languages in bi- and trilingual education (e.g. Frisian, Dutch and English);

  b)    incorporating regional and neighbour languages in education;

  c)    creating bridges between foreign languages in education (e.g. English, German and French);

  d)    valorising and including migrant languages in mainstream education;

  e)    digitalisation of multilingual materials.

This talk presents how these recent developments towards multilingual education are realised in educational projects. The projects are based on a holistic model for multilingualism in education that places pedagogical practices along a continuum, oscillating between the acknowledgement of languages and their full use in education (Duarte & Günther-van der Meij, 2018). The activities and accompanying (digital) materials are created in co-construction between teachers and researchers in design-based research (Cobb et al., 2003) during several cycles of development and implementation (McKenney & Reeves, 2013). The paper talk on the holistic model, the developed activities and materials as well as teachers’ experiences with the projects’ approach and materials.