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Volume 3, Issue 1  April 2020, pp. 91-114          Download PDF

Special Issue: Translanguaging as a Resource in Teaching and Learning
Eroding the monolingual monolith

Mei French, Janet Armitage

1 University of South Australia, Australia
2 University of South Australia, Australia



Australian schools are increasingly linguistically and culturally diverse places, and yet, the monolithic weight of the "monolingual mindset" (Clyne, 2008) still hulks at the centre of Australian education systems. Despite this, there is increasing recognition of the value of multilingualism, and the importance of incorporating students' home languages and multilingual abilities into teaching and learning. Teachers, teacher educators and curriculum developers seek guiding principles for multilingual approaches and examples of effective strategies which can be adapted and translated for diverse educational contexts. This paper suggests some principles which support effective multilingual pedagogy, illustrated with examples from students learning English as an additional language or dialect (EALD) and their teachers in two South Australian secondary schools. At a foundational level, a multilingual stance underpins the success of multilingual pedagogies. Attention to both vertical and horizontal dimensions of multilingualism (Heugh, 2018) is central to effective multilingual pedagogy. Additionally, the expertise of both students and teachers must be recognised and specified. Multilingual students are experts in using and managing their multilingual repertoires for interaction and learning, while teachers are responsible for learning design, teaching school literacies, and maintaining a supportive learning environment. A key to success is that multilingual pedagogies are developed from and respond to students' existing multilingual practices. It is hoped that these principles can help extend discussion around the use of multilingual resources and translanguaging practices in school-based learning, and give impetus to collaboration engaging students, teachers and researchers in action research and development of multilingual pedagogies. In this way, Australian education might begin to emerge from the shadow of the monolingual monolith.


© Mei French, Janet Armitage

CC BY-NC 4.0
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Suggested citation

Mei French, Janet Armitage. (2020). Eroding the monolingual monolith. Australian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 3(1), 91-114.

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