Reference : Multilingualism in Language Classes for Refugees in Luxembourg: Second Language Teach...
Scientific congresses, symposiums and conference proceedings : Unpublished conference
Arts & humanities : Languages & linguistics
Multilingualism and Intercultural Studies
Multilingualism in Language Classes for Refugees in Luxembourg: Second Language Teaching or Repertoire Building?
Kalocsanyiova, Erika mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Education, Culture, Cognition and Society (ECCS) >]
Education and Migration: Language Foregrounded
from 21-10-2016 to 23-10-2016
Durham University
United Kingdom
[en] multilingual repertoires ; forced migration ; integration
[en] Official trilingualism is often drawn upon to portray Luxembourg as a heterogeneous society with high levels of linguistic capital, where multilingualism is declared to be an asset both at individual and societal level. With the increased number and shifted geographic origin of migrants from refugee backgrounds new questions surface concerning the linguistic integration of these new arrivals, who are often incorrectly associated with zerolingualism and whose language capital is seldom perceived as a valuable asset. It has been argued that in contexts of forced migration one cannot talk of second or foreign language learning: migrants are not acquiring the language(s) of the mainstream society for the mere reason of approximating native speakers’ performances; these languages form part of their everyday lived experiences, hence they have to appropriate features that best suit their needs. Accordingly, their full linguistic repertoires constitute single integrated continua that include all the language resources they have learned and accumulated. In line with this and contesting the idea of zerolingualism, we maintain that through a wide variety of trajectories ranging from comprehensive learning to informal encounters with languages, migrants from refugee backgrounds have developed partial, truncated competences in several languages that have resulted in complex linguistic repertoires.

Our contribution aims at investigating whether the recognition of multilingualism in Luxembourg entails the acknowledgment of the refugees’ full linguistic repertoires, or on the contrary, it remains limited to the appreciation of official trilingualism and proficiency in standard English.

In our analysis we are going to rely on data collected in the context of a French language course for beginners, which is offered to newly arrived migrants by volunteer teachers. Besides commenting on the presence (or absence) of multilingual approaches, we seek to explore whether migrant language features are acknowledged as useful resources and how, if at all, the class draws on the fluid use of all the languages present for both learning and functional purposes. On this note, we aim to determine what is more prominent in this context: the monoglossic perspective where languages are conceived in a linear and compartmentalised way or a repertoire-building approach based on awareness and positive attitudes towards teachers’ and learners’ multilingual repertoires.

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