31 SES 14 A, Expectations of Teachers Regarding Migrant Pupils and School Success: Exclusion effect of a narrow focus on the school language
This paper examines lower secondary school teachers’ (N=16) expectations and attitudes towards multilingualism and linguistic competence. Investigating expectations helps us to understand how motivated the teachers are to organise support for students with a migrant background in an increasingly unequal society: According to international assessments (PISA), second-generation migrants’ achievement lags almost two school years behind native Finnish students at the end of comprehensive education (Harju-Luukkainen et al. 2015). Formal textual practices in school remain mainly monolingual, ignoring the multilingual realities of today’s classrooms (Tarnanen et al. 2017). Linguistically responsive inclusion means including all languages of the students into practices. If multilingual learners’ home languages are not seen as resources for learning, also their prior knowledge might be neglected (Blommaert et al. 2006). This contribution focuses on grassroots level situations where teachers report challenges regarding multilingual learners. The inquiry derives from a larger study aimed at understanding the factors behind second-generation migrants’ achievements. The paper demonstrates how practices valuing linguistic diversity (e.g. Lucas et al. 2008) should be strengthened to ensure successful learning for multilingual students. The qualitative data were collected in spring 2017 using semi-structured group interviews in schools in Finland. Altogether 16 lower secondary school teachers from different fields were interviewed in 6 groups. Interview questions covered everyday observations in multilingual classrooms and perceptions of students’ achievement. The transcribed data underwent a thematic content analysis in which 2 types of themes emerged: Themes are 1) perceived issues concerning multilingual learners’ educational success and 2) teachers’ attitudes on how to encounter the issues. Within the themes, categories were created concerning expectations of linguistic competence, home languages, multilingualism as resource in classroom, and linguistically responsive practices. The transcribed data were then coded based on these categories. The results indicated significant differences in teachers’ perceptions towards multilingualism: When discussing multilingual learners’ educational achievement, the teachers display expectations and attitudes on a scale from positive to negative. The synthesis of the categories reveals how teachers with better understanding of linguistically responsive practices seem to have higher expectations for multilingual learners’ achievement. Conversely, out-dated understandings of linguistic competence, disinterest in home languages, and attitudes devaluing multilingualism appear to hinder teachers’ motivation to develop multilingual learners’ full potential. Results suggest a need for resources in both teacher education and in-service training to promote two-way integration in increasingly diverse classrooms.
Blommaert, J., Creve, L. & Willaert, E. (2006). On being declared illiterate: Language-ideological disqualiﬁcation in Dutch classes for immigrants in Belgium. Language & Communication 26, (1), 34–54. Harju-Luukkainen, H., Nissinen, K. & Tarnanen, M. (2015). Matematiikka ja maahanmuuttajataustaiset nuoret [Mathematics and the students with a migrant background.] In Välijärvi, J. & Kupari, P. (edit.). How to improve achievements? PISA 2012 Results. Ministry of Education and Culture. University of Jyväskylä. Lucas, T., Villegas, A. & Freedson- Gonzalez, M. (2008). Linguistically responsive teacher education: Preparing classroom teachers to teach English language learners. Journal of Teacher Education 59 (4), 361–373. Tarnanen M., Kauppinen, M. & Ylämäki, A. (2017). Oman äidinkielen tekstitaidot monikielisyyttä rakentamassa – näkökulmia kielille annettuihin merkityksiin ja kielten käyttöön [L1 Literacy practices and use of L1 from the perspective of students and teachers with migrant background.] In Latomaa, Luukka & Linja (edit.): Language awareness in an increasingly unequal society. AFinLAn vuosikirja. p. 278–297.
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