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Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg Multilingualism, Regional & Minority Languages: Paradigms for Languages of the Wider World 16 th –17 th April.

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Presentation on theme: "Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg Multilingualism, Regional & Minority Languages: Paradigms for Languages of the Wider World 16 th –17 th April."— Presentation transcript:

1 Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg Multilingualism, Regional & Minority Languages: Paradigms for Languages of the Wider World 16 th –17 th April 2009 School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London NEGOTIATING LANGUAGES OTHER THAN FRENCH IN THE PRIMARY CLASSROOM IN FRANCE 0

2 AIM OF THE PRESENTATION l Show how education language policies are interpreted, negociated and recreated by teachers working in multilingual classrooms l Research project: Language Policy in the Classroom: Teachers as Change Agents (Kate Menken & Ofelia García, CUNY) Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 1

3 PLAN OF THE PRESENTATION l Question: what is the positioning of student teachers regarding linguistic practices in the classroom? l Case study of two student teachers (IUFM Alsace) working in « écoles maternelles » (age 3 - 6) l Analysis of their strategies to accomodate the languages of very young emergent bilinguals (German and Thai – Turkish) l The dominance of French: prevents the bilingual capital of both teachers and students to be built upon as a learning and teaching resource l Yet teachers can act as change agents of the various policies they have to translate into practice Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 2

4 THE STUDY l Based on reflective essays and interviews with two student teachers (2007-2008) l Teaching placement one day a week in pre-primary school Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 3 ST. TEACHERSFEMALEMALE Teachers languagesFrench, German, EnglishTurkish French childrens languagesGerman - ThaïTurkish Age of children2-3 (boys)3 and 7 (girls) Number of bilinguals2 out of 251 out of 23 - 1 in other class Tutor for practicumCHOther Other experiences4 weeks exchange in school in England 1 week exchange in French school in Turquey

5 TEACHER EDUCATION IN FRANCE l Post graduate two year course in IUFM l 1st year: academic, leading to a very competitive exam « concours » l 2 nd year: professional training with several practicum in schools – state certification l In service training courses l Course weighed down by evaluation l Reflective practice: short writing project on pedagogical questions relating to their weekly placement Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 4

6 AIMS OF THE STUDY l Not to compare the 2 student teachersprojects l But to analyse how they each reflected on the language strategies they used with very young emergent bilinguals (Garcia, 2008) entering school l Analysis based on their writing project and on 4 interviews (2007/2008) l The context : - constrained learning situation for both student teachers = limited space for innovation and creativity - but student teachers like being in the classroom Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 5

7 LANGUAGE EDUCATION l 24 h course on the didactics of a « foreign » language = German l 48 h didactics of school language = French: - normative approach to literacy teaching - wide-spread use of childrens literature l Since 2006-07: 6 hour module on linguistic and cultural diversity (Tessla project, Hancock et al 2006) - bilingualism and 2 nd language acquisition at school - addressing issue of linguistic discrimination Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 6

8 THE PRE-PRIMARY CURRICULUM (BO 2008, 12) l « The essential objective of pre-primary schooling is the acquisition of a rich and structured oral language, comprehensible to others ». l « With very young children, it is not necessary to provide specific teaching of French as a second language. The communicative situations linked to life in the classroom are in most cases sufficient as long as they happen in a context where plurilingualism is not denigrated and the child is called upon to express himself ». l Both students saw their pupils as « non French speaking » (cf pre- primary curriculum, 2008: 88-89) Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 7

9 NEGOCIATING SEVERAL LANGUAGES IN THE CLASSROOM l The importance of relationship with parents: both student teachers gave support to families to understand the school system and culture l Both broke the implicit rule of using only French in the classroom: overt/covert policy? (Shohamy, 2006) Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 8

10 STUDENT TEACHERS ANALYSIS l The silencing of bilingual pupils in the normative monolingual classroom - Example 1 (DB) : « And then LH is at a loss, and she is excluded from her group and sometimes her friends make remarks because she does not understand, and she goes even angrier. At that moment being bilingual myself, I decide to intervene and to use Turkish, since I share this language with the pupil. I wanted to know whether she was capable of doing her school work if I gave her the instructions in Turkish » - Example 2 (MGR): « I didnt want this difference of language to become a difficulty for them, at the very moment they discover what it is like to be at school » Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 9

11 MY ANALYSIS: TURKISH l Student teachers discourse shows how monolingual ideologies are reproduced l As a primary teacher in France DB functions like a monolingual teacher, although he is bilingual, bicultural l He does not feel legitimate when he uses Turkish in the classroom l He has personal experience of language discrimination but little understanding of language ideology l He transformed the learning situation of two pupils but it does not empower him to change attitudes of his colleagues l He modelled a successful mediation with Turkish parents but could not change the language policies in the school Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 10

12 MY ANALYSIS: GERMAN - THAÏ l Use of German in class is legitimate even at pre-primary l Authentic use of German not FLT, in every day activities with the whole class, but to integrate German-speaking child l Thaï: more difficult, she does not know the language l Learnt a few words of Thaï from the mother + included Thaï in daily greetings and some classroom language l Designed 2 vocabulary booklets French with pictures re classroom language l She created a multilingual space where the 2 languages became part of the experiences of the whole class l She supported mothers use of Thaï at home Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 11

13 CREATING MULTILINGUAL SPACES CREATING MULTILINGUAL SPACES (MGR, 2008: 21) l « Whereas this linguistic difference could have been a hindrance to the socialisation of the children, I have the impression it has helped to build it faster. Now the children themselves teach me beautiful lessons about learning to live together. Now some of them ask me spontaneously how to say this or that in Ts language (German) » Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 12

14 CHILDRENS ATTITUDES l Very young pupils are sensitive to multilingualism l Impressed by their teachers bilingualism: - « Teacher, you can speak so well! » : a 3 year old on hearing her teacher switching from French to German - DB was questioned in the playground by several Turkish speaking boys who had heard he used Turkish in his class : « Are you one of us? » Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 13

15 CONCLUSION (1) l The potential of LA activities with very young learners to: - integrate the L2s of pupils in class activities - enable pupils to make sense of their linguistic environment - enable L2 pupils to find their voice in the monolingual class - transform the monolingual classroom into a multilingual space l But it is not enough= teachers need to: - feel confident working with languages they do not know - be empowered to change school practice re L2 speakers and their languages - reflect critically on power relationships re language use in the classroom and the role of language ideologies Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 14

16 CONCLUSION (2) l Teacher working with Thaï and German clearly acted as a change agent for her class, the school and the parents l Teacher working with Turkish did make a definite difference for two children but could not impact the school culture because of the low status of Turkish - ex: he could have devised activities in Turkish for the whole class but he did not feel legitimate enough - but he did show to an experienced teacher that it is essential to communicate with parents - he became a role model for some Turkish speaking boys in the school Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 15

17 FINAL CONCLUSION l Even in a very centralised, hierarchichal and monolingually biased education system, teachers can be key agents of change from the beginning of their career. l Both student teachers understood the pupils had a right to have their L1 acknowledged and valued in class l It remains difficult for a teacher on her own to dispel entrenched prejudice as in the case of Turkish l Institutional and ideological mechanisms of power prevent teachers from being efficient agents of change outside of the classroom at the school level for ex. l Much more needs to be done to support linguistically diverse students: starting with valuing the bilingualism of our teachers! Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 16

18 LINGUISTIC AND SOCIAL ACTIVISM « Language awareness and linguistic and social activism stemming from the position of borderlands will together create more spaces for a multilingualism that will contain the voices that have been silenced and will permit language minority communities to make visible their dream of a better world.» (Garcia & al, 2006: 37) Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 17

19 THANK YOU Grateful thanks to DB and MGR. Christine Hélot, Université de Strasbourg 18

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