How we see multilingualism needs to be advanced
The value of knowing more languages and how this knowledge should be practically utilised in schools is not consistent with research. So finds researcher Adrian Lundberg, who is the editor of the latest special issue of International Journal of Multilingualism.
In recent years, research on teachers' beliefs of multilingualism has increased and since 2018-2019, the number of research articles has exploded.
We need to have a perspective from the global south.
“Increased migration and more multilingualism leads to more research. This is one justification as to why it is important to further promote and research multilingualism,” says Lundberg, a senior lecturer at the Department of School Development and Leadership, and the Center for Academic Teaching.
The 2023 issue of the journal focuses on teachers' perceptions of multilingualism. Researchers from different parts of the world have contributed perspectives to the latest research in the field.
“Within the world of research, there has been a shift where multilingualism is seen as an asset rather than a problem. In practice, however, it is still easier to have a group of students who speak the same language at school. Diversity is not easy to manage, and you may not have the tools to manage it. We need to connect theory and practice.”
One way to change is to investigate further how training programmes prepare teachers for multilingualism. In regard to Sweden, course plans often lack this perspective, believes Lundberg. In cases where multilingualism is brought up, it is normally within the subjects of Swedish as a second language or mother-tongue teaching.
“Much of what we do here is also to focus on Europe, we do as we are used to. We need to have a perspective from the global south. There must be more discussion about additional perspectives and about acceptance,” says Lundberg.
The special issue also highlights the concept of monolingualism and its relationship to multilingualism in research. If the view of multilingualism is changed and instead seen as the standard, monolingualism could be seen as its own research area.
“This had made us not see monolingualism as the norm. At that time, we had not assumed monolingualism, rather it had been seen as the exception. Nor had it been seen as an advantage within the school,” adds Lundberg.
Text: Marc Malmqvist & Adrian Grist
Read more about the research
The special issue of the International Journal of Multilingualism, number 20, 2023, has Adrian Lundberg and Hanne Brandt, University of Hamburg, as editors.