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Newly arrived pupils: Voices in counterpart and threshold experiences
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1730-5463
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Research aims, etc.

Newly arrived pupils (NAPs) are a heterogeneous group with multiple needs which span learning, social and emotional dimensions. The challenge to include these pupils is particularly pressing because existing programmes of support are not proving adequate to enable newly arrived pupils to overcome the difficulties they face and succeed at school. NAPs comprise the school group that have the greatest difficulties attaining curricular goals and gaining qualification entries to upper secondary school. This presentation reports on a project geared to investigating the organizational and pedagogical provisions offered NAPs by a good practice school and to developing a school-based approach and classroom practice for including such pupils.

This school’s model creates conditions for NAPs to continue their school education in relation to age-appropriate curricular goals. The model entails a dual-track programme of same-language NAP-only classes in which core curricular subject instruction is bilingual and integrated classes in which the NAPs join the regular teaching of other subjects in Swedish. This presentation focuses on one of the project aims which is to explore the usefulness of translanguaging for understanding the multilingual interaction in the classrooms where the NAPs are placed and supporting them in their language and subject learning efforts.

Theoretical and methodological framework

This study takes its point of departure from learning theories which explain the importance of both support and challenge for physical and intellectual development. For example, Vygotsky underscores that assistance from capable others without an element of personal exertion will not be sufficient to realize proximal potential and independent performance. A further aspect of the theoretical framework is theory and research which examine the learning conditions of segregated, ‘withdrawal’ and ‘immersion’ environments respectively. This because discourses circulating around educational responses to NAPs have centred on either language induction (segregated) programmes or direct integration into regular teaching settings. Generally, research has pointed to the logics of both surrounds and emphasized the need for targeted support such as tailored grammar instruction within a framework which requires personal exploration, meaningful engagement and efforts to cope with the situation. In view of the above, the framework also includes a survey of the various kinds of educational provision and support considered appropriate for NAPs and what studies indicate about their strengths and drawbacks.

These perspectives are considered necessary to investigate and illuminate data for the purpose of evaluating the relevance of translanguaging for describing and supporting learning activity among NAPs.

Research design, methods and data analysis

The project has an emergent educational research design. Each of the three project phases has been informed by the former phase. Initially, orientation interviews with persons at various levels of NAP involvement in the municipality focused issues and provided perspectives which framed fieldwork at the partner school. Participant observation was conducted to generate both research data and key questions for the focus groups of teachers and pupils as well as the class tutor. These interviews provided answers related to the project aims and stimulated new perspectives on current practice and possible ways of improving it.

Observation and interviews were chosen in order to gain data of both what participants think and what they do with respect to focal issues. Audio recordings are necessary for detailed analysis of participants’ interaction. Focus group interviews not only generate meaning making processes but, for the NAPs, allowed for interaction in their mother tongue as groundswell for their voices to be heard clearly in Swedish.

With regard to data analysis, Bakhtinian concepts (appropriation, addressivity, multivoicedness and interillumination) proceduralized by conversation analysis make possible analysis of both situated interactional meaning making and the significance of the surrounding contexts permeating the lives of newly arrived children.

Results

Results related to translanguaging are enmeshed in tensions spanning the model. First, the tension between the different pedagogical approaches in the two learning environments. Language-focused content teaching and translanguaging in the segregated class contrasts to teaching approaches in integrated classes. Pupils’ struggle to follow instruction in the immersion environment underscores that commitment to language-focused and translingual support must be shared across the curriculum.

Another tension inheres in the trilateral language learning task NAPs face. Everyday Swedish is as much a communicative challenge as the specialized language of school subjects. At the same time, NAPs in Sweden are engaged in maintaining and developing skills in their mother tongue. Translanguaging can bring these discourses into communicative play, align them, and make manageable what might otherwise be overwhelming.

A further tension invades mother tongue use in each learning context. While mother tongue use in the NAP-only class affords extensive learning opportunities, it tends to be avoided in the integrated classes for fear being marginalized. In this context, pupils’ translingual practices interfere with their social need to fit in and belong to the class. Translanguaging needs to be promoted sensitively and related to both pupils’ need of cultural support and wider school inclusion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
National Category
Learning Pedagogical Work
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-69058OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-69058DiVA, id: diva2:1250880
Conference
Transcon 2017, "Translanguaging - researchers and practitioners in dialogue". Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden, March 28-29, 2017
Projects
The 'language class' projectAvailable from: 2018-09-25 Created: 2018-09-25 Last updated: 2018-09-26Bibliographically approved

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St John, Oliver

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Citation style
  • apa
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  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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  • de-DE
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  • en-US
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  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
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Output format
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  • asciidoc
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