Teacher's and student's experience of multilingualism: The role of the mother tongue in the acquisition of English as a third language
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This thesis investigates teachers’ and students’ experience of multilingualism, taking into account the role of the mother tongue in learning English as a third language. A further aspiration of the study is an investigation of how linguistic diversity in the EFL classroom influences teaching practices. This thesis is centered on the perspectives of the newly arrived multilingual students who receive adapted language education in an introductory school for intensive Norwegian language learning. The theoretical framework in this thesis draws on multilingualism, cross-linguistic influence in multilingual settings and metalinguistic awareness in third language acquisition. It also takes also into consideration teachers’ language awareness. In the Norwegian context, concepts such as ‘linguistic and cultural diversity’ have become one of the current issues in Norwegian educational discourse. Nowadays, multilingual students make up an increasing number of learners in primary and secondary education. The educational authorities in Norway promote multilingualism and provide all students with an English curriculum which aims to foster further language learning by making use of learners’ mother tongues in language learning. Qualitative research design was applied in this thesis. The interviews were conducted with both teachers from the introductory and two mainstream schools and with the newly arrived students. The outcomes of this research study are three main findings. The first one is that the mother tongue was of the essence for the newly arrived multilingual students and served as a reference point in their learning English and Norwegian. The second finding indicates that the language educators from the introductory school provided differentiated instruction that could exploit the students’ linguistic backgrounds. The students’ mother tongues were seen as a resource in learning English as a third language. When it comes to the mainstream schools, attention was not paid to the multilingual students’ backgrounds. Despite the fact that the teachers from the mainstream schools acknowledged the benefits of multilingualism, they did not make use of the multilingual students’ mother tongues, and the Norwegian language had a dominating role in their English classes. Finally, the third finding indicates that all language educators did not receive knowledge about multilingual pedagogy in the course of their education. Some of the teachers did not feel competent enough to provide English instruction in a highly diverse classroom, and some claimed that the teacher training program should include multilingual pedagogy as a part of teacher education.
Master i skolerettet utdanningsvitenskap