Students' use of their plurilingual resources in Australian schools


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    Abstract: Research involving the plurilingualism of young people has begun to focus upon how we must re-conceptualise language learning to acknowledge the language resources of children with plurilingual experiences. This is particularly important in countries like Australia with a traditionally monolingual mindset embedded in policy, education, and the views of much of the community. Growing arguments posit that it is more important to focus on the resourceful use of language than attempts to measure skill, competence, or fluency in one language. In this paper, the movement between languages of children with a range of linguistic repertoires is explored in the Australian context. Data are taken from student and teacher interviews and focus groups with parents across five different primary schools, each with a bilingual education programme. The paper argues that bilingual programmes aimed at monolingual background students can have benefits for more than one kind of plurilingual student. It was found that plurilingual children drew on their home language(s) as a resource in school contexts where other languages were used, showed an increased enjoyment of learning, and developed learning strategies which built on their plurilingual experiences. Additionally, the data showed how teachers in these contexts worked towards expanding their own linguistic repertoires.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)361-377
    Number of pages17
    JournalLanguage and Education
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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