IDI4MES

Report for Panjabi School published

 

 

Cities in the United Kingdom, and across Europe, are becoming increasingly multilingual, and are often described as ‘super-diverse’. However, policy-makers and practitioners have little access to detailed information about how multilingual speakers use language in their daily interactions. This study makes a new contribution to knowledge in this area, as it examines the use of language in a large Panjabi complementary school in Birmingham.

The research project examines how multilingual students, their teachers, and teaching assistants use language in day-to-day educational and social practice. It is a study of the cultural and social significance of the Panjabi school, and of the ways in which multilingualism is used to negotiate inheritance and identities in 21st Century Birmingham. The study takes as its starting-point CEDF Panjabi School. The administrators, teachers, teaching assistants and students in the school were endlessly accommodating as researchers from the University of Birmingham conducted observations in and beyond their classrooms. The focus of the study is not on the effectiveness of the teaching and learning of Panjabi in the school. However, a year working in collaboration with CEDF Panjabi School has offered immensely valuable insights into the high quality of provision available in a community-run language teaching environment. It has been an enriching experience.

Special Issue of journal devoted to findings of IDII4MES

Our research project has taken us into multilingual classrooms in Birmingham, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Tilburg where we investigated the multilingual practices and identities of young people and their teachers in a range of educational settings including primary, secondary and complementary schools in Northern Europe. The ‘superdiverse’ (Vertovec, 2009) contexts of our European cities mean that as educators we have a great deal in common across our cityscapes. We are faced with questions of how best to respond to increasing diversity in policy and practice. Old questions need new answers as we search for contextualised pedagogic approaches that are ‘particular, practical and possible’ (Kumaravadivelu, 2001). Describing local and nuanced responses to change are central to our research which used an ethnographic approach to investigating young people’s and their teachers’ actions, interactions, and practices as they engaged in the business of language teaching and learning or other curriculum projects. Our research is ethnographic because we are representing our participants’ voices as they go about their daily lives. We work in a multilingual research team and our accounts are produced by researchers whose own linguistic, cultural and social histories shape what they see and hear while investigating the multilingualism of our schools. As a research team we share the view that language use not only reflects the wider social order but also shapes it through interactions with others. Our view of research is that investigators cannot stand outside of the research process, but must stand inside it and offer narratives that represent themselves and others in that process. Working in a large multilingual research team is crucial to our collection of research evidence and our interpretation of this evidence because teams of researchers add to the diversity of voices represented in research narratives and accounts.

 

 

Stockholm project

                  On 17th December 2012 the Stockholm research team reported their findings to teachers, policy-makers
                   and other education professionals at a seminar at Stockholm University.

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