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.


Metrics Loading ...

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.


Achmat, Z. (1992). ‘Yo dude, cosa wena kyk, a?: The multilingual classroom’. Cape Town: The National Language Project. Retrieved from

Alby, S., & Léglise, I. (2018). ‘Multilingualism and translanguaging as a resource for teaching and learning in French Guiana’, in P. Van Avermaet et al. (Eds.), The multilingual edge of education. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 115-137. doi:10.1057/978-1-137-54856-6_6

Busch, B. (2012). ‘The linguistic repertoire revisited’, Applied Linguistics, 33(5), pp. 503-523. doi:10.1093/applin/ams056

Chau, E. (2007). ‘Learners’ use of their first language in ESL classroom interactions’, TESOL in Context, 16(2), pp. 11-18.

Chow, P., & Cummins, J. (2003). ‘Valuing multilingual and multicultural approaches to learning’, in S. R. Schecter & J. Cummins, (Eds.), Multilingual education in practice: Using diversity as a resource. Portsmouth: Heinemann, pp. 32-61.

Clyne, M. (2008). ‘The monolingual mindset as an impediment to the development of plurilingual potential in Australia’, Sociolinguistic Studies, 2(3), pp. 347-366.

Coleman, J. (2012). ‘Moving beyond an “instrumental” role for the first languages of English language learners’, TESOL in Context, 22(1), pp. 18-37.

Cross, R. (2012). ‘Reclaiming the territory: Understanding the specialist knowledge of ESL education for literacy, curriculum and multilingual learners’, TESOL in Context, 22(1), pp. 4-17.

Cummins, J. (1996). Negotiating identities: Education for empowerment in a diverse society. Ontario: California Association for Bilingual Education.

Cummins, J. (2006). ‘Identity texts: The imaginative construction of self through multiliteracies pedagogy’, in O. García, T. Skutnabb-Kangas, & M. E. Torres-Guzman (Eds.), Imagining Multilingual Schools: Language in Education and Globalization. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, pp. 51-68.

Cummins, J., Bismilla, V., Cohen, S., Giampapa, F., & Leoni, L. (2006). ‘Timelines and lifelines: Rethinking literacy instruction in multilingual classrooms’, Orbit, 36(1), pp. 22-26.

Cummins, J. (2007). ‘Rethinking monolingual instructional strategies in multilingual classrooms’, Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics/Revue Canadienne de Linguistique Appliquee, 10(2), pp. 221-241. Retrieved from (Accessed: 6 October 2012).

Cummins, J. (2008). ‘Teaching for transfer: Challenging the two solitudes assumption in bilingual education’, in J. Cummins & N. H. Hornberger (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Language and Education, Volume 5: Bilingual Education. (2nd edn.). New York: Springer, pp. 65-75. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-30424- 3_116

Cummins, J. (2009). ‘Fundamental psycholinguistic and sociological principles underlying educational success for linguistic minority students’, in T. Skutnabb-Kangas et al. (Eds.), Social Justice Through Multilingual Education. Clevedon: Channel View Publications, pp. 19-35.

D’warte, J. (2014). ‘Exploring linguistic repertoires: Multiple language use and multimodal literacy activities in five classrooms’, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 37(1), pp. 21-30.

D’warte, J. (2015). ‘Building knowledge about and with students: Linguistic ethnography in two secondary school classrooms’, English in Australia, 50(1), pp. 39-48.

de Jong, E. J., & Freeman Field, R. (2010). ‘Bilingual approaches’, in C. Leung & A. Creese (Eds.), English as an Additional Language: Approaches to Teaching Linguistic Minority Students. London: Sage, pp. 108-121.

Duarte, J. (2019). Translanguaging in mainstream education: A sociocultural approach. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 22(2), 150-164. doi:10.1080/136 70050.2016.1231774

French, M. (2016). ‘Students’ multilingual resources and policy-in- action: An Australian case study’, Language and Education. Taylor & Francis, 30(4), pp. 298-316. doi:10.1080/09500782.2015.1114628

French, M. (2018). ‘Multilingual and translanguaging pedagogies in EALD’. Melbourne: Languages and Multicultural Education Resource Centre (LMERC), p. 2018. Retrieved from

French, M., & Armitage, J. (forthcoming). ‘Eroding the monolingual monolith’, Australian Journal of Applied Linguistics.

French, M., & de Courcy, M. (2016). ‘A place for students’ Multilingual resources in an Australian high school’, in C. Snowden & S. Nichols (Eds.), Languages and Literacies as Mobile and Placed Resources. Oxon: Routledge, pp. 153-169.

García, O. (2009). Bilingual Education in the 21st Century: A Global Perspective. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell. doi:10.1080/014346 32.2010.515718

García, O., Flores, N., & Woodley, H. H. (2012). ‘Transgressing monolingual and bilingual dualities: Translanguaging pedagogies’, in A. Yiakometti (Ed.), Rethinking Education, Volume 5: Harnessing Linguistic Variation to Improve Education. Oxford: Peter Lang AG. doi:10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004

Gearon, M., Miller, J., & Kostogriz, A. (2009). ‘The challenges of diversity in language education’, in J. Miller, A. Kostogriz, & M. Gearon (Eds.), Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Classrooms. New Dilemmas for Teachers. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, pp. 3-17.

Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. New Brunswick: Aldine Transaction.

Goldstein, T. (2003). ‘Contemporary bilingual life at a Canadian high school: Choices, risks, tensions, and dilemmas’, Sociology of Education, 76(3), pp. 247-264.

Hardman, J. C. (1999). ‘A community of learners: Cambodians in an adult ESL classroom’, Language Teaching Research, 3(2), pp. 145-166. doi:10.1177/136216889900300204.

Hélot, C., & Young, A. (2002). ‘Bilingualism and language education in French primary schools: Why and how should migrant languages be valued ?’, International Journal Of Bilingual Education And Bilingualism, 5(2), pp. 96-112.

Heugh, K. (2015). ‘Epistemologies in multilingual education: Translanguaging and genre – companions in conversation with policy and practice’, Language and Education, 29(3), pp. 280-285. doi:10.1080/09500782.2014.994529

Heugh, K. (2018). ‘Conclusion: Multilingualism, diversity and equitable learning: Towards crossing the “abyss”’, in P. Van Avermaet et al. (Eds.), The Multilingual Edge of Education. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 341-367. doi:10.1057/978- 1-137-54856-6_15.

Heugh, K. (2019). ‘Language contact and languaging’, in Z. Bock, Z. (Ed.), Language, Society and Communication: An Introduction. (2nd ed.). Pretoria: Van Schaik Publishers, pp. 369-400.

Heugh, K., French, M., Armitage, J., Taylor-Leech, K., Billinghurst, N., & Ollerhead, S. (2019). Using Multilingual Approaches: Moving from Theory to Practice. London: British Council. Retrieved from

Heugh, K., Li, X., & Song, Y. (2017). ‘Multilingualism and translanguaging in the teaching of and through English: Rethinking linguistic boundaries in an Australian university’, in B. Fenton-Smith, P. Humphreys, & I. Walkinshaw (Eds.), English Medium Instruction in Higher Education in Asia-Pacific. Netherlands: Springer, pp. 259-279. doi:10.1007/978-3-319- 51976-0

Johnson, D. C. (2013). Language Policy. London: Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1057/9781137316202

Landry, R., & Bourhis, R. Y. (1997). ‘Linguistic landscape and ethnolinguistic vitality: An empirical study’, Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 16(1), pp. 23-49. doi:10.1177/0261927X970161002

Li, X., Heugh, K., O’Neill, F., Scarino, A., & Crichton, J. (2016). ‘Developing English language and intercultural learning capabilities: An investigation in the Division of Education, Art and Social Science’. Research Centre for Languages and Cultures, University of South Australia.

Lo Bianco, J. (2018). ‘Provision, policy and reasoning: The pluralisation of the language education endeavour’, in J. Choi, & S. Ollerhead (Eds.), Plurililingualism in Teaching and Learning. New York: Routledge, pp. 21-35.

May, S. (2011). ‘Language policy’, in M. Grenfell (Ed.), Bourdieu, Language and Linguistics. London: Continuum, pp. 147-169.

TESOL in Context, Volume 27, No.1

Mohanty, A., Panda, M., & Pal, R. (2010). ‘Language policy in education and classroom practices in India’, Negotiating Language Policies in Schools: Educators as Policymakers, pp. 211-231.

Morales, A., & Hanson, W. E. (2005). ‘Language brokering: An integrative review of the literature’, Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 27(4), doi:10.1177/0739986305281333 pp. 471-503.

Ollerhead, S., Choi, J., & French, M. (2018). ‘Introduction’, in J. Choi & S. Ollerhead (Eds.), Plurililingualism in Teaching and Learning. New York: Routledge, pp. 1-18.

Saxena, M., & Martin-Jones, M. (2013). ‘Multilingual resources in classroom interaction: Ethnographic and discourse analytic perspectives’, Language and Education, 27(4), pp. 285-297. doi:10.1080/09500782.2013.788020

Schalley, A. C., Guillemin, D., & Eisenchlas, S. A. (2015). ‘Multilingualism and assimilationism in Australia’s literacy- related educational policies’, International Journal of Multilingualism, 12(2), pp. 162-177. doi:10.1080/14790718.2 015.1009372

Schwinge, D. (2003). ‘Enabling biliteracy: Using the continua of biliteracy to analyze curricular adaptations and elaborations’, in N. H. Hornberger (Ed.), Continua of Biliteracy: An Ecological Framework for Educational Policy, Research, and Practice in Multilingual Settings. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, pp. 278-295.

Sierens, S., & Van Avermaet, P. (2014). ‘Language diversity in education: Evolving from multilingual education to functional multilingual learning’, in D. Little, C. Leung, & P. Van Avermaet (Eds.), Managing Diversity in Education: Languages, Policies, Pedagogies. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, pp. 204-222.

Skilton-Sylvester, E. (2003). ‘Legal discourse and decisions, teacher policymaking and the multilingual classroom: Constraining and supporting Khmer/English biliteracy in the United States’, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 6(3-4), pp. 168–184. doi:10.1080/13670050308667779

Slembrouck, S., & Rosiers, K. (2018). ‘Translanguaging: A matter of sociolinguistics, pedagogics and interaction?’, in P. Van Avermaet et al. (Eds.), The Multilingual Edge of Education. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 165-187. doi:10.1057/978-1-137-54856-6_8

Slembrouck, S., Van Avermaet, P., & Van Gorp, K. (2018). ‘Strategies of multilingualism in education for minority children’, in P. Van Avermaet et al. (Eds.), The Multilingual Edge of Education. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 9-39.

Stroud, C., & Heugh, K. (2004). ‘Language rights and linguistic citizenship’, in J. Freeland & D. Patrick (Eds.), Language Rights and Language Survival: Sociolinguistic and Sociocultural Perspectives. Manchester: St Jerome, pp. 191-218.

White, P. R. R., Mammone, G., & Caldwell, D. (2015). ‘Linguistically based inequality, multilingual education and a genre-based literacy development pedagogy: Insights from the Australian experience’, Language and Education. Taylor & Francis, 29(3), pp. 256-271. doi:10.1080/09500782.2014.994527

Yin, R. K. (2010). Qualitative Research from Start to Finish. New York: The Guilford Press.




How to Cite

French, M. (2019). Multilingual pedagogies in practice. TESOL in Context, 28(1), 21–44.



Share |