Overarching aim of this study is to interpret and create an understanding of eleven-year-old pupils’ attitudes regarding their own linguistic potential when the teachers introduce translanguaging strategies in the classroom where nine different languages, L1, are spoken.
At many schools only the target language is supposed to be used in subject teaching (cf. Cummins 2007), as was the case at the school in this study. This policy negatively affects multilingual pupils’ perception of their own identity and ability to acquire knowledge (Cummins 2007). Williams (1996) showed that simultaneous use of multiple languages, translanguaging, in the classroom led to broader and deeper knowledge of language and subjects. Later research (see e.g. Baker 2000; Creese & Blackledge 2010; Garcia 2012; Wedin 2013; Cummins & Persad 2014; Garcia & Wi 2014) presented similar findings about how strategic use of multilingualism promotes multilingual pupils’ identity and knowledge development. According to Meier and Conteh (2014), teaching based on pupils’ resources is crucial for multilingual pupils’ thinking and learning, with potential gains for individuals and society.
In order to create understanding a narrative content analysis was carried out and collected data was regarded as aspects of life stories. Those aspects of life stories was collected in the form of observations, recordings, interviews, pupils’ texts and pictures, material from cooperation between pupils and parents/guardians, and questionnaire responses. It comprises 2 teachers and 26 multilingual pupils in grade 5 with varying length of residence, from having been born in Sweden to having recently arrived.
Life stories are constructed by the story-teller who in his turn is influenced by both the receiver and the story situation (Pérez Prieto 2006). The story telling situation is therefore crucial to what the story-teller chooses to tell. In order to achieve the aim these pupils’ narratives is interpreted by asking questions regarding attitudes towards one’s own linguistic potential, in what various ways one can be benefitted by a translanguaging classroom approach and aspects about language as a resource, a linguistic potential, in the classroom.
The result shows that the students have a large lingual potential but there are great differences in estimating and perceiving their first and second languages. There seems to stand out a pattern that students who have ranked both their languages on a high scale are considerably more positive to the teachers’ initiative than those with discrepancies in their rankings. Analyses of texts, colloquies, observations and interviews indicate that the students with high rankings of both their languages played an important role for those who initially were resistant by shaping new relations and contributing to mutual development of knowledge.
NERA 2016, 44th Congress of the Nordic Educational Research Association, Helsinki, 9-11 March