Language: NOR | ENG

PhD public defence: Teacher education students’ encounter with multilingualism in practice

PhD public defence: Teacher education students’ encounter with multilingualism in practice

Multilingualism in Norwegian schools is the theme of Jonas Yassin Iversen's doctoral thesis. (Photo: private).

Jonas Yassin Iversen is scheduled to defend his PhD thesis revolving a qualitative study that examines teacher education students' first encounter with multilingualism in practical training.

Assistant professor Jonas Yassin Iversen, will defend his thesis as part of the PhD programme in Teaching and Teacher Education at INN University’s Hamar campus on 11 September.

Multilingualism is the rule rather than the exception in Norwegian schools, where the new curricula state that all pupils must experience that knowing several languages ​​is a resource. Classrooms are becoming increasingly multilingual, but how do teacher education students relate to multilingualism when they encounter this in practical training? Iversen has taken a closer look at this in his doctoral thesis.

“One of the most important findings is that many of the teacher education students see themselves as monolingual, and envisage that in the future they will work in a monolingual school, even though they actually speak several languages ​​and will probably teach in multilingual classrooms in the future,” says Iversen.

In his work on the thesis, he has used a qualitative approach, where he combines focus group interviews, observations in the classroom and linguistic autobiographies to provide new knowledge about how teacher education students approach the multilingualism they encounter in school. In the focus group interviews, among other things, many of the participants recommend multilingual pupils to limit the use of languages ​​other than Norwegian in the classroom. This attitude was reflected in the teacher education students' own teaching:

“The pupils’ multilingualism is almost overlooked by the teacher education students in the study, and they paid little attention to the pupils' multilingualism as long as the pupils had satisfactory competence in Norwegian,” says Iversen.

However, the study shows that the teacher education students have a number of relevant experiences related to multilingualism, and that they are willing to adapt their teaching to the pupils' different needs if some of the pupils had challenges in understanding the content of the teaching. But at the same time, the teacher education students believed that the teaching of the pupils' multilingualism must not be at the expense of the teacher's control and cooperation between the pupils.

“As classrooms become increasingly multilingual, it is important that teacher education adapts and appropriately equips teacher education students who can draw on the multilingualism of pupils to support and promote learning. The task of teacher education is to provide students with competence that enables them to see multilingualism as a resource,” Iversen believes.

The practical experiential learning teachers are an important resource for the teacher education students when they are out in the field. The study indicates that the students largely imitate the teaching of the more experienced teachers they meet during their practical training.

“Increased attention to multilingualism in the education of teacher education students will for that reason be able to have limited influence. Therefore, it is important that the experienced teachers also become familiar with the work aimed at teacher education students at the teacher education institutions, so that the topic of pupils' multilingualism can be better integrated into the teaching when the teacher education students are undergoing their practical experiential learning.”