multilingual classrooms

Multilingual classrooms

What is a multilingual classroom?

A multilingual classroom is a classroom with learners having more than one languages at their disposal (irrespective of level of competence), including learners from migrant backgrounds, such as first- and second-generation and newly-arrived immigrants and refugees. As a result of globalisation, intra-European mobility and international migration, such classrooms have nowadays become the norm rather than an exception in Europe.

Linguistic and cultural diversity is nowadays a growing reality in school classrooms.
what is a multilingual classroom

Why is using English as a lingua franca important?

Nowadays, English is the most widely employed language in Europe and beyond and, very frequently, the only option for people who do not share their mother tongue or have another language in common. Using it is important not only for personal communication in various social domains, including the Internet, but also, for professional reasons. It is a ‘shared’ language, in other words, that opens doors for better social and professional opportunities.

In Greece, Norway and Turkey, about 9.7% of 15-year-old students are currently in schools where more than 25% of students speak at home a language which is different from the language of schooling. At the same time, the percentage of foreign-born people in Portugal increased from 1.3% in 1991 to 8.3% in 2015, while, in Italy, immigrant children alone have almost doubled during the past 10 years, representing, in 2015, 11.7% of the total number of children in the country. .

How can we support multilingual classrooms?

Being able to communicate effectively in a ‘shared’ language which opens doors for better social and professional opportunities is necessary for all learners. Nowadays, English serves as the most frequent ‘shared’ language around the world. Professional development primarily for English language teachers is, therefore, crucial so that they embrace the linguistic diversity in their classrooms and raise their awareness of the importance of English in connecting learners with each other, the local communities and the whole world.

For more information about the European policy on multilingualism, linguistic diversity and multilingual classrooms, visit the European Commission webpage.

how can we support multilingual classrooms
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