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Language diversity in education: evolving from multilingual education to functional multilingual learning

Sven Sierens (UGent) and Piet Van Avermaet (UGent)
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Abstract
This chapter argues that multilingual education is not the only way of responding to language diversity at school; indeed, the large number of home languages present in many schools means that it is impossible to implement traditional modes of bi- and multilingual education. We begin by distinguishing between the multilingualism of educational elites, which involves languages that enjoy a high degree of cultural prestige, and the multilingualism of children from immigrant homes, whose languages are often felt to have no educational value. We then consider the arguments advanced in favour of monolingual and multilingual educational models. Proponents of the monolingual model believe that children from immigrant backgrounds should be immersed in the language of schooling; home languages have no role to play at school because they are seen as obstacles to effective acquisition of the majority language. Proponents of bilingual models, on the other hand, argue that education partly in the pupil’s home language provides a more effective basis for learning the language of schooling than immersion, enhances pupils’ self-esteem, and helps to preserve immigrant languages. A review of empirical research shows that there is no knock-down argument in favour of one particular model of language education; clearly, no single model can possibly suit all contexts. We propose that there are three strategies for responding to linguistic diversity at school: a constructive language policy; raising language awareness; and facilitating functional multilingual learning. This last is conceptualised as an alternative to the binary opposition between monolingual and multilingual education: a new pedagogical approach that exploits children’s plurilingual repertoires as didactic capital for learning.
Keywords
education, multilingual, language, diversity, Steunpunt Diversiteit & Leren

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Chicago
Sierens, Sven, and Piet Van Avermaet. 2014. “Language Diversity in Education: Evolving from Multilingual Education to Functional Multilingual Learning.” In Managing Diversity in Education : Languages, Policies, pPedagogies, ed. David Little, Constant Leung, and Piet Van Avermaet, 204–222. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
APA
Sierens, S., & Van Avermaet, P. (2014). Language diversity in education: evolving from multilingual education to functional multilingual learning. In D. Little, C. Leung, & P. Van Avermaet (Eds.), Managing diversity in education : languages, policies, pPedagogies (pp. 204–222). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Vancouver
1.
Sierens S, Van Avermaet P. Language diversity in education: evolving from multilingual education to functional multilingual learning. In: Little D, Leung C, Van Avermaet P, editors. Managing diversity in education : languages, policies, pPedagogies. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters; 2014. p. 204–22.
MLA
Sierens, Sven, and Piet Van Avermaet. “Language Diversity in Education: Evolving from Multilingual Education to Functional Multilingual Learning.” Managing Diversity in Education : Languages, Policies, pPedagogies. Ed. David Little, Constant Leung, & Piet Van Avermaet. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters, 2014. 204–222. Print.
@incollection{4284796,
  abstract     = {This chapter argues that multilingual education is not the only way of responding to language diversity at school; indeed, the large number of home languages present in many schools means that it is impossible to implement traditional modes of bi- and multilingual education. We begin by distinguishing between the multilingualism of educational elites, which involves languages that enjoy a high degree of cultural prestige, and the multilingualism of children from immigrant homes, whose languages are often felt to have no educational value. We then consider the arguments advanced in favour of monolingual and multilingual educational models. Proponents of the monolingual model believe that children from immigrant backgrounds should be immersed in the language of schooling; home languages have no role to play at school because they are seen as obstacles to effective acquisition of the majority language. Proponents of bilingual models, on the other hand, argue that education partly in the pupil{\textquoteright}s home language provides a more effective basis for learning the language of schooling than immersion, enhances pupils{\textquoteright} self-esteem, and helps to preserve immigrant languages. A review of empirical research shows that there is no knock-down argument in favour of one particular model of language education; clearly, no single model can possibly suit all contexts. We propose that there are three strategies for responding to linguistic diversity at school: a constructive language policy; raising language awareness; and facilitating functional multilingual learning. This last is conceptualised as an alternative to the binary opposition between monolingual and multilingual education: a new pedagogical approach that exploits children{\textquoteright}s plurilingual repertoires as didactic capital for learning.},
  author       = {Sierens, Sven and Van Avermaet, Piet},
  booktitle    = {Managing diversity in education : languages, policies, pPedagogies},
  editor       = {Little, David and Leung, Constant  and Van Avermaet, Piet},
  isbn         = {9781783090808},
  keyword      = {education,multilingual,language,diversity,Steunpunt Diversiteit \& Leren},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {204--222},
  publisher    = {Multilingual Matters},
  title        = {Language diversity in education: evolving from multilingual education to functional multilingual learning},
  year         = {2014},
}