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.