Multilingualism as legitimate shared repertoires in school communities of practice: students’ and teachers’ discursive constructions of languages in two schools in England

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The paper reports on the findings of a 12-month project within a broader research programme that looks at a group of East European students with English as an Additional Language (EAL) in England. The data are derived from interviews with the students and teachers in two schools. The findings show that EAL students had a keen interest in English. This attitude contrasted with their reluctance to use and talk about their home language, as a result of language loss and fear of being bullied. Teachers’ attitudes towards languages were also mixed, ranging from support for ‘free use of languages’ , to ‘restricted use of home language’ , and to ‘use of English only’. The paper further argues that multilingualism can be theorised as legitimate shared repertoires of school communities of practice. Practical implications are drawn which suggest that students’ and teachers’ voices should be acted upon and translated into school language policies.

Bilingual learner, community of practice, multilingualism, school language policy, English as an Additional Language
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Cambridge Journal of Education
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Informa UK Limited
Bell Foundation (unknown)
This work was supported by a three-year grant from the Bell Foundation. We are grateful to the Bell Foundation and Diana Sutton for supporting the research on which this article was based and to the research team which included Madeleine Arnot, Deb Davies-Tutt, Linda Fisher, Karen Forbes, Mei Hu, Claudia Schneider, Oakleigh Welply. We are grateful to the participants in the schools and communities who gave their time to help this project. The views expressed here are those solely of the named authors of this article.