Silencing bilingualism: a day in a life of a bilingual practitioner

Robertson, Leena H.; Drury, Rose and Cable, Carrie (2014). Silencing bilingualism: a day in a life of a bilingual practitioner. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 17(5) pp. 610–623.



Based on sociocultural theories of learning, this paper draws on findings from a research project ‘a day in a life of a bilingual practitioner’. It explores how two multilingual practitioners in English early years settings supported the learning of young 3–4 year-old children, and their parents and teachers. The paper challenges the current binary opposition of viewing the development and maintenance of home languages and English as existing at two ends of a spectrum in young children's lives and their learning. The data reveal the tensions between this perceived opposition and the silencing of multilingualism enacted by bilingual practitioners in early years settings. We argue that while bilingual practitioners have the potential to draw on their ‘funds of knowledge’, the reality in these classrooms does not allow them to support bilingual learning. The paper concludes that bilingual children's, parents' and practitioners' untapped ‘funds of knowledge’ need to be opened up in order to inform a new bilingual pedagogy in the early years.

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