Plurilingual pre-service teachers in a multicultural society
Insightful, invaluable, invisible
In view of the increasing cultural and linguistic diversity in school classrooms in many English-majority countries, the profile of the pre-service teachers being trained to teach in those classrooms has become of research interest. It was found in a cohort of Australian pre-service teachers that one third of the cohort was plurilingual. This article reports the findings of a project which interviewed fifteen plurilingual pre-service teachers about their linguistic identity, tertiary studies, experiences during practicum teaching, and their beliefs about their future teaching career. The findings reveal dynamic, hybrid, empowered plurilingual identities within their personal lives. In their university studies, however, their skills are invisible, as there are no links made between their identities and their developing professional skills as new teachers. Experiences during practicum included both some validating interactions in diverse schools, but also feelings of exclusion in monolingual schools. The pre-service teachers were insightful as to the valuable skills they possessed which could enhance student learning. The study indicates the need, within the discourse of Australian multiculturalism, for teacher standards, teacher education and schools to recognise plurilingual pre-service teachers’ abilities as a teaching and learning resource, in order for them to achieve an integrated professional identity.
Keywords: Pre-service teachers, teacher education, identity, transnational, plurilingual
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