Teacher Pedagogical Knowledge and Plurilingual Learners: An Australian Perspective

Conference: The European Conference on Language Learning (ECLL2022)
Title: Teacher Pedagogical Knowledge and Plurilingual Learners: An Australian Perspective
Stream: Plurilingualism - Bilingualism
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Sue Ollerhead, Macquarie University, Australia


Multilingualism is a distinguishing feature of Australian life, with over 300 different languages spoken and one in five people speaking a language other than English at home. Although touted as a multicultural success story, Australia faces distinct challenges when accommodating multilingual learners within its monolingual English education system. One of these challenges is insufficiently developed teacher knowledge about how to use linguistic diversity as a resource for classroom learning. In recent years, the term pedagogical language knowledge (Galguera, 2011) has emerged as a useful theoretical and pedagogical concept to describe the language-related skills and knowledge that all educators should possess to be able to teach their disciplines effectively. This paper will illustrate the ways in which the author has worked with a diverse body of teachers to develop an expanded view of pedagogical language knowledge that foregrounds a range of multilingual teaching approaches. Primary amongst these is pedagogical translanguaging (Cenoz, 2017), whereby teachers systematically incorporate their plurilingual learners’ rich linguistic resources into classroom activities to scaffold either disciplinary content, language or both. Offering a careful selection of empirical accounts of how teachers in diverse Australian classrooms are beginning to reorient their work through a multilingual lens, this paper will provide instructive examples of ways in which teachers’ beliefs, understandings and knowledge of how to teach multilingual learners are probed, developed and enacted.

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