to raise awareness of how pupils’ languages can be included into school life
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Exercise 1: Teachers’ representations
Before you learn more about linguistic diversity and inclusion in school, we would like you to reflect on the concept of inclusive education and what it means to you as a teacher in advance of doing this module.
What is inclusive education? Let’s think of key words which make you think of the concept of “linguistic inclusion”. Add your own key words defining this type of inclusion.
Inclusive teaching implies facilitating and supporting all students learning processes, regardless of identity or culture. Teachers in such classrooms expose the richness of differences in their students, stimulate reciprocal interactions between them and focus on student-directed learning while integrating students’ diverse contexts. Linguistic inclusion within those terms highlights valuing all learners’ home and second languages – vernacular and minority languages just as much as world languages – making sure they are not dominated by one mainstream language.
Exercise 2: Defining inclusion and language diversity
The aim of this exercise is to reflect on the broad definition of linguistic diversity.What does this term cover in your opinion? Let’s look at the various definitions of inclusion below. Please decide whether the statements about inclusive linguistic definition of education are true or false.
Inclusive school – definitions
Inclusion implies going beyond the idea of tolerance to a true respect and appreciation of diversity.
Inclusive classroom focuses (only) on the most vulnerable students.
False. In this module, we are focusing particularly on inclusion of all students’ cultural backgrounds, languages and ethnicities. The concept of inclusive education has evolved over time. In the past inclusion was associated with proposing specific provisions for students with disabilities. It was also associated with the term: special education (Boyle & Anderson, 2020). Nowadays, inclusive education has gained much broader sense and ensures that all students can equally participate in learning process.
In an inclusive classroom, differences are seen mainly as challenges.
False. Cultivating an inclusive climate is an asset for the entire school. Differences in terms of spoken languages and culture, are seen as worthy of special attention, as they enrich the whole community.
In inclusive classroom, differences are treated as assets.
Inclusive education varies from country to country.
Inclusive education evolved from traditional (deficient) to contemporary (integration for all) point of view concerning classroom’s integration of intellectually-disables students.
Schools that do not provide training activities or programs relating to inclusion cannot be considered inclusive.
Inclusion tries to minimize all barriers for learning for all students.
Inclusion may involve changes in what goes on in classrooms, staff rooms and with parents/carers.
Newly arrived migrant students are supported in the same way as regular students.
False. The support that newly arrived migrant students need requires additional knowledge about their cultural and linguistic identities. To address these needs, suitable classroom accommodations need to be implemented in order to overcome potential social and linguistic boundaries.
Inclusive school culture includes integrating beliefs, views, attitudes, and relationships as well as written and unwritten rules that shape every aspect of the school's functioning as an institution.
In inclusive schools, migrant children and children with learning difficulties can attend regular classes together and all have the right to assistance during classes.
In multilingually inclusive classroom, teachers can work on any content of their choice, as there are no specific guidelines for a multilingual curriculum yet.
False. In an multilingually inclusive classroom, teachers need to put time and effort into finding culturally and linguistically varied content. This is a part of the differentiation process in such diverse classes. Effective teachers ensure dialog across different cultures and thus related and empowering intercultural discussion content.
Traditional approach to inclusion involves thinking about students mainly in terms of disability phenomenon as opposed to holistic, student cantered approach.
Exercise 2 is adapted from the Self-assessment tool on inclusion (School Education Gateway, n.d.).
TIP. You might have noticed that the distinction between equality and equity underlies some of the statements above. Watch this video explaining the differences between equality and equity.
Reflecting about linguistically-inclusive scenarios
Imagine you are an inspector making recommendations to a school that has deficits in terms of linguistic inclusion. You are given 2 scenarios, written by two different teachers, please make bullet-point recommendations for these two scenarios.
Our school is located close to the border of our neighbouring country. We have a mixture of teachers; some of whom are only relatively recently trained. We are all aware that we should be implementing inclusive practices, but somehow there are many students who leave the school after only one year, arguing that not much has been done to help them maintaining their languages and that their languages are seen as an obstacle. We urge the pupils to stick to the language of instruction in the classroom, also in when working in pairs, as to strengthen their skills in that language. Pupils are encouraged not to to use their home languages at school as we feel it hinders their acquisition of the schooling language and prevents them from connecting with their peers. There are no explicit training activities or programs related to inclusion. In respect to multilingual approaches, diverse languages tend to be seen as an obstacle, rather than a valuable resource. I do not know how I could use students’ previous knowledge and linguistic repertoires to learn about the topics which we are studying. In our school, only a few teachers are trying to use differentiated approaches but many of us find very hard and feel it is an additional burden. Concerning the immigrant students, they sometimes get educational support which focuses on primarily using the school’s language of instruction. Textbooks are our main resources, which follow the curriculum that focuses on assimilative aspect of immigrants. Evaluation of student performances is typically teacher-led through systematic tests where students receive their final scores, but our hope is to adopt a long-term focus on more formative assessment approaches this year.
Scenario 2: In our school, we try to adapt our existing approaches towards accommodating the diversity of our students. They come from many different cultural backgrounds. The school principal often proposes training that promotes multilingual approaches. There are groups of teachers who work together to support students newly arrived in the country and the exchange between them. Diversity in terms of spoken languages is seen as an asset in our school. The school welcomes all students. We are currently working on various ways of promoting interactions between students, parents, and teachers. We try to communicate with families and parents' associations, to take their expertise into account and involve them in various school concerns: pedagogical, economic, technology, environment. Teachers are trained in differentiation and try to plan their activities attending to individual student characteristics and needs. We employ a pedagogical coach and various assistants to provide support (special needs’ guidance, coaching, talented students). Students whose home language is not the language of instruction are allowed to use expressions in their L1. We prefer to facilitate rather than control learning, therefore, we have groups of teachers working jointly on the creation of multilingual content adapted to students' capabilities. Our school encourages and promotes exchanges with other schools. Regarding assessment – we promote diverse (as opposed to only numerical) forms of evaluation, including peer exchange between students and self-evaluation.
An inclusive, multilingual education teacher, is a type of educator who:
Elements of a correct answer are:
An inclusive, multilingual education teacher is as type of educator who…
Promotes positive and open to any languages and cultures school/classroom climate
Promotes multilingual, learner-centred teaching via interlingual practices (English- language of choice)
Raises awareness about different languages and cultures
Guides and facilitates students’ active participation in lessons and building up knowledge
Focuses on specific multilingual content and multilingual activities
Develops mediation techniques, in order to resolve possible culture and language related class conflicts
Allows various ways of assessing students
Applies differentiation techniques to embrace linguistic diversity
Focuses on non-punitive approaches to using multiple languages
Is able to analyse curriculum in terms of multilingual topics
Uses visual aids for scaffolding and other visuals to help instructional language
Uses drama techniques and role plays for authentic and purposeful learning
Proposes an audio-visual methods of learning
Provides classroom environment filled with labels in different languages as well as space adaptations (groups of students working together, one big table for whole class discussion, multiple boards)
Proposes highly motivational and relative to students’ experiences activities.
Focuses on students’ active participation (learner-centred)
Organises regular peer to peer feedback and assessment
The answers are inspired by teaching practices and classroom interactions provided by Edutopia (2021) and EDCHAT® (2013).