"The Inappropriateness of Language": discourses of power and control over languages beyond English in primary schools

Cunningham, Clare (2018) "The Inappropriateness of Language": discourses of power and control over languages beyond English in primary schools. Language and Education. (In Press)

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Teachers' attitudes towards children's languages and culture have been shown to be instrumental in children's developing self-esteem and academic achievement. Attitudes and the frequently attendant local policies about languages beyond English in schools therefore need to be clear for children, as negative or contradictory discourses can distract from positive work that has been done on increasing inclusivity and embracing multilingualism.
This paper reports on to the extent to which teachers' discourses reveal power and control over children's linguistic repertoires in school. This study is part of a broader project investigating educators' attitudes towards children who speak languages beyond English conducted in six northern English primary schools. Interviews from 31 participants were systematically analysed by applying APPRAISAL theory framework.
Analysis suggested home language use is controlled by teachers, and genuine opportunities for languages beyond English in participating schools seem limited. This was seen both in schools where an overtly welcoming message for languages beyond English was communicated and in schools that were more muted in their appreciation of children's home languages as part of their 'funds of knowledge'. Furthermore, a close linguistic analysis of the participants' responses revealed contradictions and potentially confusing messages for children about the value of their languages.

Item Type: Article
Status: In Press
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
School/Department: School of Languages & Linguistics
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/3555

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