Are literacy competences and success rates lower in multicultural classrooms?

Peter Broeder, Mia Stokmans

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperScientificpeer-review

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    Multicultural classes are a logical consequence of the dynamic unification of Europe and EC treaties relating to the free movement of persons and goods (European Parliament 2001). As a result differences in language background of students are quite prominent in a day-to-day teaching practice (McPake, 2007). Not only do pupils differ in their linguistic knowledge, there are also marked differences in (Dutch) language competences and skills. A sufficient level of these language competences and skills are a necessary condition to be able to function successfulty in a classroom and be successful in an educational system. It is often stated that a multicultural composition of a classroom enlargers the mismatch between the expected and average level of the language competences of pupils as well as the diversity in language competences. However, is this really the case and how can this be explained? This contribution focuses on consequences of the mismatch between, on the one hand, the school language register and the competences of pupils (referred to as literacy competences) and on the other hand, the instruction Language and the suppsed pupil's literacy competences by the teacher. More specifically, we seek to demonstrate that variations in literacy competences complicate the learning process for all pupils in a multicultural classroom and thus limit their chances of acquiring the desired level of proficiency In our argumentation, we embrace a social constructivistic (language) approach of education and (language) leaming (Gibbons. 2002; Cobb, 2006), where the class s seen as a social system in which the urning process proceeds through communication. In this learn'ng process, pupils acquire literacy competences through linguistic interactions that are a prerequisite for a successful completion of the subject course, and thus for school success (cf. Freeman & Freeman, 2007).
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages13
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    EventEuropean Conference on Education Research: Education and Cultural Change - University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
    Duration: 24 Aug 201027 Aug 2010


    ConferenceEuropean Conference on Education Research
    Abbreviated titleECER 2010


    • Literacy
    • multilingualism


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