Multilingual pedagogies in practice




multilingual pedagogies, multilingualism, translanguaging, English language learners, EAL, secondary school


Amongst Australian EAL specialists there is increasing recognition of the value of incorporating students’ home languages and cultural knowledge into teaching and learning. However there remains a need for guiding principles for developing effective multilingual and translanguaging approaches for diverse educational contexts. This paper presents some classroom approaches and suggest principles for effective multilingual curriculum and pedagogy.

An ethnographic study in an Australian high school revealed that students used their multilingual repertoires to support learning individually, collaboratively and through access to external information. Teachers responded by rejecting, accepting or actively engaging students’ multilingual resources.

Analysis of these teaching approaches suggests some principles for effective multilingual classroom practice. Successful multilingual pedagogies require both teachers and students to challenge the “monolingual mindset” (Clyne, 2008) of Australian education. Attention to both vertical and horizontal dimensions of multilingualism (Heugh, 2018) is also crucial. Additional principles include affirming multilingualism, attending to affect, developing shared learning outcomes, defining a social purpose and addressing practical considerations. A key to success is that multilingual and translanguaging pedagogies are developed from students’ existing multilingual practices.

It is hoped that proposing these principles can extend discussion and research around the use of multilingual resources in school-based learning.


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Author Biography

  • Mei French, University of South Australia, Australia

    Academic Researcher, Research Centre for Languages and Cultures, School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia.

    Dr Mei French has worked as an EAL teacher in Australian high schools and is an academic researcher with the University of South Australia. She has particular expertise in curriculum and pedagogies which build on students’ multilingual repertoires. Through these pedagogies, students build strong connections to language learning and broader curriculum. Mei’s PhD investigated the complex and purposeful multilingual practices, including translanguaging, of high school students and their teachers, and the implications for pedagogy and policy.


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How to Cite

Multilingual pedagogies in practice. (2019). TESOL in Context, 28(1), 21-44.
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