Migration and schools: Policies for primary and secondary education in Europe

Panel leader: George Androulakis, University of Thessaly & Hellenic Open University, Greece

Despite some decades of so-called inclusive educational policies, migrant students tend to have lower educational outcomes in most European and world countries. Educational segregation is still an issue, teachers rarely work in good conditions, teaching of migrants’ home languages is not always the rule, and communication between schools and families is often problematic. Migrant education is an area of weakness in the European Union (Migration Policy Group, 2012), causing a lot of frustration to professionals and volunteers involved, and raising many questions about the effectiveness of EU-funded programmes.

Education policies can be distinguished in system-level (international, national, regional) and school-level policies. Of course, system-level policies are crucial as they determine factors such as funding, anti-discrimination legal frameworks, teacher training, pre-school structures, and school leaving, but school-level policies can be the alternative way to make things progress from a bottom-up perspective. This panel gathers four presentations of ‘situated’, ‘practiced’ or ‘de facto’ language policies implemented in four projects covering a wide range of national, educational and migration contexts. Learner-centeredness, intercultural, and multilingual approaches are a common background of these projects which adopt a critical perspective to mainstream educational policies and propose examples of good practices in language teaching and language teacher training.

Paper 1: Implementing a small-scale integrated model for refugee students’ inclusion: between system-level and school-level policy, and between literacy and task-based language learning

George Androulakis, University of Thessaly & Hellenic Open University

The paper reports on the design and implementation of a research project funded by the Hellenic Open University and aiming at the integration of young refugees in Greek schools. In a Greek context of financial and social crisis, the project had to challenge the lack of constructed national policy for the inclusion of migrant and refugee target groups in pre-primary and primary schools, and the bureaucracy and lack of autonomy which is typical in Greek schools (Androulakis et al., 2013). The project adopted a multilingual approach for language learning, and particularly tested it in pre-school and early school education. The project valued the students’ home language and integrated language and content learning. Some of the main teaching principles of the project were the adoption of multiple, plurilingual approaches (according to FREPA; Candelier, 2013), the valorization and use of students’ home languages, and CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning). Principles for literacy learning were applied, and situated policy consisted in learning the host language through every day and locally-oriented tasks. Results and recommendations of the project will be discussed, along with their transferability to other contexts.

George Androulakis is Professor of Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching at the Department of Primary Education of the University of Thessaly, Greece, and Vice-President for Academic Affairs in the Hellenic Open University. He holds a PhD from the University of Paris 7. He occupied positions in the Universities of Paris 7, the Aegean, Thessaloniki and has been a visiting Professor in the Universities of Toronto and Strasbourg. He is regularly invited as Expert of the European Commission and European Council. His research interests include language contact in migrant communities, language and education policy, language attitudes and language teaching.

Paper 2: “I don’t speak all their languages”: Engaging with emergent bilinguals and their families in the pre-primary classroom to foster well-being, learning and inclusion.

Andrea Young, University of Strasbourg, France

Many teachers struggle to engage with children whose languages they do not speak, often exclude these languages from the classroom and regard multilingualism as a problem rather than as a resource or a right. Very young emergent bilingual children entering a formal education setting for the first time are particularly vulnerable to the teacher’s practiced language policies which may implicitly or explicitly forbid the use of their home languages. This paper presents data from a longitudinal study (September 2014 to June 2015) undertaken in a pre-primary classroom of 3-4 year-old emergent bi/plurilingual children during their first year of formal schooling in France. Focusing on how the monolingual teacher facilitated the plurilingual children’s transition from home to school, her attitudes, practiced language policies and inclusion of parents in learning activities are described and analysed. Video extracts provide powerful examples of how the teacher’s sensitivity to the children’s home languages and cultures and her ability to draw on their multilingual repertoires fostered their well-being, learning and inclusion.

Andrea Young has worked as a lecturer/researcher in language education at the School of Education (ESPE), University of Strasbourg, since 1998. Her research and teaching interests include teacher education for the support of second language acquisition, building educational partnerships between home and school, bi/plurilingual/literacy, teacher language awareness and intercultural education. She has been involved in a number of European projects in these areas, notably with the European Centre for Modern Languages in Graz.

Paper 3: Exploring migration through the lens, lives and languages of young people in multilingual classrooms.

Vicky MacLeroy, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

This paper explores the complexity of multilingual digital storytelling and how young people learn to become meaning makers discovering their own voices in different and unfamiliar contexts. The Critical Connections II project (September 2015 – August 2017) involves researchers working with students, teachers and parents in community-based complementary and mainstream schools in the UK, Algeria, Luxembourg, Palestine, Taiwan and the United States as part of a multilingual programme. Recognising the power of narrative to create a space for listening and meld together different voices is integral to understanding how multilingual digital storytelling engages students creatively and critically with literacy. Multimodal composing provides many opportunities for creative and dialogic thinking as students work collaboratively and imaginatively across modes and languages. Research studies are growing that demonstrate young people’s sense of empowerment when they are in control of the production process and are given opportunities to represent their own experiences. A multiliteracies pedagogy is dialogic and research findings from the project demonstrate how digital storytelling enables young people to develop a critical and powerful perspective on fairness. Excerpts from their multilingual digital stories on migration will be shared and discussed.

Vicky Macleroy is co-director of a global 2-year project ‘Critical Connections II: Moving Forward with Multilingual Digital Storytelling’ using digital storytelling as a means to engage students with language learning. She is a Senior Lecturer in English in Education and Acting Head of the Research Centre for Language, Culture and Learning at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her particular research interests are in the area of poetry, digital storytelling and multilingualism. She is co-editor of the book Multilingual Digital Storytelling: Engaging creatively and critically with literacy published by Routledge (2016).

Paper 4: Supporting and/or restricting translingual spaces – a comparison of German teachers’ de facto language policies and ideologies in Greece and Canada

Nathalie Thomauske, University of Cologne, Germany

In the context of transnational educational spaces in a globalized world teachers are facing tension because of differing educational aims and dominant discourses. On the one hand prestigious languages, in this case German, should be learned and taught for increasing better chances in a globalized market but also for the purpose of not losing the bond to the family and the parents’ country of origin. On the other hand, the majority of the pupils don’t speak the language of instruction as a home language and need to use their whole linguistic repertoire in order to make sense of what is being taught. How do teachers deal with ambivalent language policies in their daily classroom practices? Are plurilingual children supported or restricted in making use of a translingual space and for what purposes? To answer those questions, the paper presents first stage analysis from expert interviews with four teachers who were part of a larger international comparative study about teachers’ views on migration-related multilingualism (Panagiotopoulou and Rosen 2015).

Nathalie Thomauske obtained her PhD from the University of Bielefeld and Paris 13/Nord in 2015/2016. She is currently working as a research assistant at the Department of Comparative Educational Research and Social Science at the University of Cologne. Her research interests include processes of othering and discrimination in relation to plurilingualism in the domain of early childhood, inclusive plurilingual and translingual education, postcolonialism and racism in France and Germany.