Wednesday Seminar: Exploring multilingualism in mainstream vocational classes (during a pandemic) – access, methods and pilot data

Mari J. Wikhaug Andersen (Doctoral Research Fellow, MultiLing) will give a talk on her in-progress PhD project, "Translanguaging in the majority classroom: a study of teachers’ beliefs, practices and students’ linguistic citizenship."

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What do teachers of non-language subjects know about translanguaging in the majority classroom context, and what are their beliefs about translanguaging pedagogy and practices? What do the classroom practices of multilingual minority students look like, and what about their teachers’ practices in the classroom? How do the teachers’ practices in linguistically diverse classrooms interplay with their knowledge and beliefs about multilingualism and multilingual practices?

In my PhD project, I investigate questions such as the ones above. The study is based on a theoretical framework consisting of a selection of different, yet connected and partly overlapping theories originating in the fields of linguistics, psychology, sociology and pedagogy. Translanguaging pedagogy (García & Li Wei, 2014) is a central lens, as are theories related to knowledge, beliefs and attitudes, and the distinction between such concepts (e.g. Garrett, 2010; Pajares, 1992). Moreover, the backdrop of the study is informed by notions of social and cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1986), as well as perspectives related to multicultural pedagogy (as described in Van der Kooij, 2014), integration and assimilation (e.g. Spernes, 2012). Last, but not least, the concept of linguistic citizenship (Stroud, 2001; Williams & Stroud 2015) will be relevant in the analyses of student perspectives and classroom asymmetries and hierarchies.

The view of multilingualism as a resource and as valuable in itself is expressed in several Norwegian national terms of reference (e.g. NOU 2010: 7; Ministry of Education and Research, 2007). The new core curriculum, implemented in the fall of 2020, states that “(…) All pupils shall experience that being proficient in a number of languages is a resource, both in school and society at large.” (Ministry of Education and Research, 2017:7)  My study investigates multilingual classrooms during the first year of implementation of the new national curriculum.

The focal participants in the study are multilingual minority students with short time of residency in Norway (also known as newly arrived immigrants or recent immigrants) who attend mainstream classes in vocational study programs – and their program subject teachers. The data collection, in which I adopt a micro-ethnographic (Bryman, 2016, p. 424) and linguistic ethnographic approach (Copland & Creese, 2015), will result in a varied dataset and the study of several cases.

This fall I have carried out a pilot fieldwork at an upper secondary school outside Oslo. In October 2020, I visited three different student groups and their teachers for three weeks. I conducted open, unstructured non-participant and participant observations in all three classes. All observation sequences were video recorded. I carried out semi-structured (small) group interviews with twelve students, and a number of informal, unstructured interviews with one of the teachers. Now, due to the recently implemented infection prevention measures, I am considering ways to adapt my data collection procedures.

The aim of this seminar is threefold: First, to present the project in its original form, then to present the pilot (with an emphasis on access, methods, example data), and lastly to discuss my options going forward.



Bourdieu, P. (1986). The Forms of Capital. In I. Szeman & T. Kaposy (Eds.), Cultural Theory: An  Anthology (p. 81-93). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. 

Bryman, A. (2016). Social Research Methods. 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Copland, F. & A. Creese. (2015). Linguistic Ethnography: Collecting, Analysing and Presenting Data. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

García, O. & Li Wei. (2014). Translanguaging: Language, Bilingualism and Education. London:

Palgrave MacMillan  Garrett, P. (2010). Attitudes to Language. Cambridge: Cambridge

University Press.

Ministry of Education and Research. (2007). Likeverdig opplæring i praksis! Strategi for bedre læring  og større deltakelse av språklige minoriteter i barnehage, skole og utdanning 2007–2009.  Revidert utgave februar 2007. Retrieved from _likeverdig_opplaering2_07.pdf/

Ministry of Education and Research. (2017). Core curriculum – values and principles for primary and  secondary education. Retrieved from 

NOU 2010: 7. Mangfold og mestring — Flerspråklige barn, unge og voksne i opplæringssystemet.  Oslo: Ministry of Education.  

Pajares, M. F. (1992). Teachers’ Beliefs and Educational Research: Cleaning Up a Messy Construct.  Review of Educational Research, 62(3), 307-332. 

Spernes, K. (2012). Den flerkulturelle skolen i bevegelse. Teoretiske og praktiske perspektiver. Oslo:  Gyldendal Akademisk Forlag. 

Stroud, C. (2001). African Mother-tongue Programmes and the Politics of Language: Linguistic  Citizenship Versus Linguistic Human Rights. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural  Development, 22(4), 339-355.  

Van der Kooij, K. S. (2014). Flerkulturell pedagogikk. In J. H. Stray & L. Wittek (Eds.). Pedagogikk – en grunnbok. Oslo: Cappelen Damm. 

Williams, Q & C. Stroud. (2015). Linguistic citizenship: Language and politics in postnational  modernities. Journal of Language and Politics, 14(3), 406 -430.  


Mari J. Wikhaug Andersen is a Doctoral Research Fellow at MultiLing – Center for Multilingualism in Society Across the Lifespan. She has completed the teacher training program at the University of Oslo, and holds an MA in Scandinavian Studies. Before starting her PhD, she taught Norwegian and English in upper secondary school and worked as a Research Assistant at MultiLing. Her research focuses on multilingualism in the classroom and language ideologies.


Published Nov. 13, 2020 1:47 PM - Last modified Nov. 24, 2020 12:36 PM