Valuing bi- and multi-lingualism : a challenge to the monolingual framework for initial teacher training in secondary schools in England

Pearse, Valerie Sanchia (2006). Valuing bi- and multi-lingualism : a challenge to the monolingual framework for initial teacher training in secondary schools in England. PhD thesis The Open University.



This research investigates the perceived problem in initial teacher training of learning to teach bilingual pupils (TTA, 2004) in state secondary schools in England. It challenges the emphasis, within the national Standards for initial teacher training, on English as an additional language (EAL) (TTA, 2002), rather than the full spectrum of bilingual pupils. The thesis postulates that the national Standards privilege a monolingual perspective. This perspective maintains English as the dominant language within the education system rather than drawing on a more dynamic multilingual framework.

The data emanate from a multiple-site case study involving interviews in four schools and four Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) working in partnership to provide initial teacher training. The research examines underlying policies, beliefs and strategies.

The thesis concludes that the monolingual framework underpinning educational policy in England encourages a deficit model of bilingualism which determines the focus and discourse of policy and practice in initial teacher training. Few schools know how many bilingual pupils they have. This omission, combined with the focus on EAL in the Standards, means that trainees receive limited input on bilingualism from schools and HEIs. Trainers lack specific training in the benefits of bilingualism and rely on personal experience rather than theoretical knowledge. Consequently, trainees fail to draw on theories of language acquisition in their approach to teaching.

The research found that some schools and individual HEI trainers offered positive models. These encouraged trainees to place language learning at the heart of teaching and learning. Working directly with bilingual pupils helped. trainees to appreciate the potential of teaching within a multilingual framework. Future research could concentrate on bilingual pupils' perspectives and positive strategies employed in schools.

This research advocates that economic and social benefits, including the promotion of global citizens who can appreciate other worldviews and be flexible in their thinking, could emerge from a multilingual framework.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions