Mother tongue classrooms

As part of the MIGDIA project, we study the practices of Arabic mother tongue teaching in Finland. From the perspective of the language socialisation of plurilingual students, mother tongue instruction is the context that could facilitate the integration of their first language into schoolwork. It is also a context where plurilingual repertoires and possible transnational identities can naturally come under negotiation.

From a language sociological perspective, Arabic is an unusual language to teach. Significant structural differences between standard Arabic and dialects make it a world language whose standardised form is not a typical or primary resource for oral communication even in Arabic-speaking countries. Moreover, differences among dialects in different regions are so significant that they are not mutually intelligible in all respects. Therefore, Arabic is quite a challenging language to learn and teach, even for native speakers. In diaspora contexts, the challenges of teaching are further compounded because the everyday language environment is more multilingual, and student groups may consist of students from different dialect backgrounds.

Against this backdrop, we ask how Arabic native language instruction socialises students into linguistic repertoires and identities. We examine multilingual interaction practices in teaching situations, emerging transnational networks, and the web of language ideologies that extend beyond the classroom. In this part of the project, in addition to classroom observations, we also interview the parents of students, thereby expanding the focus beyond the classroom to the role of families in children’s language and educational choices.



Newly arrived students in the classrooms

The popular science book titled "Vastasaapuneet luokkahuoneissa: Ikkunoita valmistavaan opetukseen ja monikieliseen kouluun," (Newly arrived students in the classrooms: windows to preparatory education and multilingual school) published by Vastapaino, provides an accessible exploration of the multilingualism in schools, offering insights through vivid examples and delving into research. The book consists of an introduction, twelve peer-reviewed chapters, four concrete pedagogical perspectives, and four educational policy perspective chapters.

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