Teaching literacy-diverse classes: Challenges, opportunities and proper prior training

Peter Broeder, Carel van Wijk

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All teachers are increasingly confronted with classes of considerable cultural and linguistic diversity. The huge difficulties encountered in teaching these classes have been known for quite some time. This contribution focuses on teachers coping with differences in literacy in the classroom. How do teachers perceive, manage, and evaluate differences in literacy levels in the classroom? ‘Literacy’ in terms of reading and understanding texts is essential for school success. We conduced semi-structured interviews with 230 secondary school teachers in the Netherlands, who were categorized on the basis of three criteria: (1) type of school taught at (vocational or pre-university education), (2) school subject taught (Dutch, modern languages or other text-based subjects) and (3) teachers' teaching experience (more or less than 12.5 years). Questions concerned the perception of differences in literacy (levels) in class, the background of the students and the extent to which the assignments given are understood by the students. The results are specified for three separate domains. (1) To what extent are literacy levels related to multilingual backgrounds? (2) What are the challenges for the teacher arising from this diversity? (3) Do teachers feel their training has prepared them properly to meet these challenges and are they experiencing enough support both from their own school and from society as a whole? Which types of additional support do they consider necessary? The presentation goes into the results that have emerged from the survey. These include possible barriers to and new opportunities for competence-based curricula proposals for pre- and in-service training of all teachers in Europe. Eventually, a connection is made between these findings and recent initiatives in teacher training (the EUCIM-TE project), in which a European Core Curriculum for teacher training has been specified.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventEAPRIL 2015: Educating the generation of tomorrow - University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Duration: 23 Nov 201527 Nov 2015


ConferenceEAPRIL 2015
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