The ‘problem’ of bilingual children in educational settings: policy and research in England

Safford, Kimberly and Drury, Rose (2013). The ‘problem’ of bilingual children in educational settings: policy and research in England. Language and Education, 27(1) pp. 70–81.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09500782.2012.685177

Abstract

Is language something to be ‘overcome’? In this discussion of education policy and research perspectives on bilingual children in England, the authors take as their starting point five questions about language diversity posed in 1973 by Dell Hymes. The authors review the history of mainstream school support for young bilingual learners in England and how policies and practices have contextualised the research agenda by framing bilingual learners in a monolingual curriculum and assessment structure. The authors consider how ethnographic studies in non-statutory, complementary schools and early years settings offer vantage points from which multilingualism is seen as a pedagogical resource rather than a problem. It is hoped that the discussion will prompt readers to consider the ‘problem’ of linguistic diversity in mainstream education wherever they are situated, and to consider what kinds of research methods would provide insights and solutions.

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