31 SES 11 A, Language Education in Plurilingual Europe: Professionalism, Performance, Positioning
In this paper I will present the research design and theoretical framework for an ethnographic study of that takes a comparative approach to the investigation of language management in education across Norway and Sweden. Scandinavian countries are increasingly characterised by a multilingual population due to the recent increase in immigration (Statistics Norway, 2019; Statistics Sweden, 2020). Both Norway and Sweden have long histories as multilingual nation states, with both national minorities and an indigenous population. Hence, it is highly relevant to explore how different languages are managed in education, from the partial integration of Sámi instruction into Norwegian and Swedish mainstream education and heritage language instruction into Swedish mainstream education, to the heritage language instruction offered in community-initiated afternoon or weekend schools in Norway. To address these issues, this project will investigate the following research question:
How does the management of indigenous, national minority, and heritage languages in education across Norway and Sweden influence students’ social positioning, linguistic identity, and sense of school belonging?
In order to investigate the tensions and possibilities in the management of different languages in education across Norway and Sweden, this research project will explore the instruction of Sámi and a heritage language in Norway and Sweden. Sámi is a recognised indigenous language in Norway and as a national minority language in Sweden. Finally, both Norway and Sweden have a high percentage of students speaking more recent, migrant minority languages, such as Polish and Somali. In this project proposal, these migrant minority languages are described as heritage languages in line with recent literature in the field (Canagarajah, 2019).
I describe the language instruction in question as taking place at the ‘margins of education’ since researchers have repeatedly described the marginalised role and place for such instruction within mainstream education, as well as the marginalised nature of the bilingual teaching profession in Norway. This marginalisation involves limited time, resources, attention, and support from school leaders and from central or local governments. The restricted space created for such language instruction is frequently under pressure as teachers, school leaders, and politicians want to prioritise time, resources, and attention to what they might consider more pressing issues.
Drawing on Pratt (1991), I understand the margins of education to be contact zones between the majority community represented through the highly structured mainstream education system and the minoritised language community represented through their students and teachers. Pratt (1991) used the term contactzones to refer to ‘social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power’ (p. 34). In the encounter between the minoritised language community and mainstream education, the minoritised language community is forced to adapt to the standards and regulations of mainstream education to a varying degree depending on the context. The result is the establishment of a transnational space where students grapple with their role and place within the education system in particular and society in general.
The dominant language ideology of the particular context is a key factor in how educational transculturation plays out in different contexts. Language ideologies function as a ‘mediating link between social structures and forms of talk’ (Woolard, 1992, p. 235). The study of language ideologies has attracted numerous sociolinguistic researchers for the past decades, and their findings are highly relevant for educational contexts (Canagarajah, 2019). Conteh and Meier (2014) concluded that ‘which languages are taught, and through which languages content is taught […] are based on socio-political discourses and ideology’ (p. 4).
I propose linguistic ethnography as an appropriate research method because it is suitable to investigate questions related to language use in local and particular settings and their relationship to larger societal discourses (Copland & Creese, 2015). I plan to conduct fieldwork in four instructional settings in three institutions: 1) a Norwegian mainstream school where Sámi is taught; 2) a Swedish mainstream school where Finnish and 3) heritage languages are taught; and 4) a community-initiated afternoon or weekend school offering instruction in heritage languages in Norway. I plan to recruit a Norwegian school where Sámi is taught as well as a community-initiated heritage language school. Moreover, I will identify and contact a Swedish mainstream school where Sámi and other heritage languages are taught. During the fieldwork, I will observe language instruction, administer ethnographic interviews, and conduct discursive shadowing of focal participants. I will spend three to four months at each of the instructional settings. I plan to use both audio and video recording as long as this is approved by all participants. To complement observations, recordings, and interviews, I will take photographs and collect relevant documents that might contribute to the richness of the data from the different contexts. Furthermore, I will conduct semi-structured interviews with teachers and students about their experiences with language teaching, which obstacles they experience, and the importance of language instruction in their own lives. In order to explore students’ linguistic identities, I will also invite them to draw language portraits and possibly write identity texts. These portraits and texts can serve as a point of departure for the student interviews. The research project at hand takes positioning as an analytical framework. Positioning describes ‘a way in which people dynamically produce and explain the everyday behaviour of themselves and others’ (van Langenhove & Harré, 1999, p. 29). Thus, positioning can contribute to the analysis of how participants in language instruction actively ‘select and invent from materials transmitted by a dominant or metropolitan culture’ (Pratt, 1991, p. 36), as well as how the participants explain this selection. Social positioning is concerned with the positioning of larger groups in relation to others (Simon, 2018). Such a perspective is therefore highly relevant when investigating minoritised language communities and their relationship to a majority community.
Through this study, I expect to be able to describe how the management of minoritised languages at a policy level in Norway and Sweden influences the linguistically minoritised students’ social positioning, linguistic identity, and sense of school belonging in local educational contexts in the respective countries. A preliminary hypothesis is that there will be great convergence between Sámi students’ social positioning, linguistic identity, and sense of school belonging in Norway and Sweden because of the similarities in the management of Sámi in education across Norway and Sweden. For the heritage language students, I expect that there might be greater divergence between the heritage language students’ social positioning, linguistic identity, and sense of school belonging in Norway and Sweden due to the differences in the management of such languages in education across Norway and Sweden.
Canagarajah, S. (2019). Changing orientations to heritage language: The practice-based ideology of Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora families. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 2019(255), 9–44. doi:10.1515/ijsl-2018-2002 Conteh, J., & Meier, G. (Eds.). (2014). The multilingual turn in languages education: Opportunities and challenges. Multilingual Matters. Copland, F., & Creese, A. (2015). Linguistic ethnography: Collecting, analysing and presenting data. Sage. Pratt, M. L. (1991). Arts of the contact zone. Profession, 1991, 33–40. Simon, A. (2018). Supplementary schools and ethnic minority communities: A social positioning perspective. Palgrave Macmillan. Statistics Norway. (2019). Immigrants and Norwegian-born to immigrant parents. https://www.ssb.no/en/befolkning/statistikker/innvbef Statistics Sweden. (2020). Immigrations (except citizens from Nordic countries) by grounds for settlement, birth and sex. Year 2001 - 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.statistikdatabasen.scb.se/pxweb/en/ssd/START__BE__BE0101__BE0101J/ImmiBosatt/ van Langenhove, L., & Harré, R. (1999). Introducing positioning theory. In L. van Langenhove & R. Harré (Eds.), Positioning theory: Moral contexts of intentional action (pp. 14–31). Blackwell. Woolard, K.A. (1992). Language ideology: Issues and approaches. Pragmatics, 2(3), 253–249. doi:10.1075/prag.2.3.01woo
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.