Teachers’ Plurilingual Identities in Transnational Contexts
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139


In view of the increasing cultural and linguistic diversity in school classrooms in many English-majority countries, the profile of the pre-service teachers being trained to teach in those classrooms has become of research interest. It was found in a cohort of Australian pre-service teachers that one third of the cohort was plurilingual. This article reports the findings of a project which interviewed fifteen plurilingual pre-service teachers about their linguistic identity, tertiary studies, experiences during practicum teaching, and their beliefs about their future teaching career. The findings reveal dynamic, hybrid, empowered plurilingual identities within their personal lives. In their university studies, however, their skills are invisible, as there are no links made between their identities and their developing professional skills as new teachers. Experiences during practicum included both some validating interactions in diverse schools, but also feelings of exclusion in monolingual schools. The pre-service teachers were insightful as to the valuable skills they possessed which could enhance student learning. The study indicates the need, within the discourse of Australian multiculturalism, for teacher standards, teacher education and schools to recognise plurilingual pre-service teachers’ abilities as a teaching and learning resource, in order for them to achieve an integrated professional identity.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Allard, A. , & Santoro, N.
    (2006) Troubling identities: teacher education students’ construction of class and ethnicity. Cambridge Journal of Education, 36(1), 115–129. doi: 10.1080/03057640500491021
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03057640500491021 [Google Scholar]
  2. Bourdieu, P.
    (1977) Cultural reproduction and social reproduction. In J. Karabel & A. Halsey , (Eds.), Power and ideology in education (pp.487–511). New York: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. (1990) In other words: Essays towards a reflexive sociology. California: Stanford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Brown, J. , & Miller, J.
    (2006) Dilemmas of identity in teacher education: Reflections on one pre-service ESL teacher cohort. TESOL in Context: Journal of ACTA, 1, 118–128.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Causey, V. E. , Thomas, C. D. , & Armento, B. J.
    (2000) Cultural diversity is basically a foreign term to me: the challenges of diversity for preservice teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 16, 33–45. doi: 10.1016/S0742‑051X(99)00039‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0742-051X(99)00039-6 [Google Scholar]
  6. Cho, C. L.
    (2010) Qualifying as teacher: Immigrant teacher candidates’ counter-stories. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 100, 1–22.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Clyne, M.
    (2008) The monolingual mindset as an impediment to the development of plurilingual potential in Australia. Sociolinguistic Studies, 2(3), 347–366. doi: 10.1558/sols.v2i3.347
    https://doi.org/10.1558/sols.v2i3.347 [Google Scholar]
  8. Cockrell, K. , Placier, P. , Cockrell, D. , & Middleton, J.
    (1999) Coming to terms with “diversity” and “multiculturalism” in teacher education: Learning about our students, changing our practice. Teaching and Teacher Education, 15, 35–366.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Coleman, J.
    (2014) Realising the pedagogical potential of multilingual pre-service primary teachers. The Warwick Research Journal, 2 (1). Retrieved fromexchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/article/view/54/144.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Coste, D. , Moore, D. , & Zarate, G.
    (2009) Plurilingual and pluricultural competence: Studies towards a Common European Framework of Reference for language learning and teaching. Strasbourg, France: Council of Europe.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Crozet, C.
    (2008) Australia’s linguistic culture and its impact on languages education. Babel, 42(3), 19–24.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Cummins, J.
    (1978) Bilingualism and the development of metalinguistic awareness. Journal of Cross- Cultural Psychology, 9(2), 131–149. doi: 10.1177/002202217892001
    https://doi.org/10.1177/002202217892001 [Google Scholar]
  13. (1996) Negotiating identities: Education for empowerment in a diverse society. Ontario: California Association for Bilingual Education.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Denzin, N. , & Lincoln, Y.
    (Eds.) (2005) Handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. de Jong, E.
    (2014) Preparing mainstream teachers for multilingual classrooms. Association of Mexican American Educators Journal, 7(2), 40–49.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Ellis, E. M.
    (2004) The invisible multilingual teacher: The contribution of language background to Australian ESL teachers’ professional knowledge and beliefs. International Journal of Multilingualism, 1(2), 90–108. doi: 10.1080/14790710408668181
    https://doi.org/10.1080/14790710408668181 [Google Scholar]
  17. Faez, F.
    (2012) Diverse teachers for diverse students: Internationally educated and Canadian-born teachers’ preparedness to teach English language learners. Canadian Journal of Education/Revue canadienne de l’éducation, 35(3), 64–84.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Gannon, S.
    (2012) Changing lives and standardising teachers: The possibilities and limits of professional standards. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 11(3), 59–77.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Garcia, O.
    (2008) Multilingual language awareness and teacher education. Encyclopedia of language and education. In J. Cenoz, J. & N. H. Hornberger , (Eds.), Encyclopedia of language and education (Vol.6) (pp.2130–2145). New York: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978‑0‑387‑30424‑3_163
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-30424-3_163 [Google Scholar]
  20. Garmon, M.A.
    (2004) Changing preservice teachers’ attitudes/ beliefs about diversity: What are the critical factors?Journal of Teacher Education, 55(3), 201–213. doi: 10.1177/0022487104263080
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487104263080 [Google Scholar]
  21. Garvey, E. , &. Murray, D.E.
    (2004) The multilingual teacher: Issues for teacher education. Prospect, 19(2), 3–24.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Gee, J. P.
    (1988) Discourse systems and Aspirin bottles: On literacy. Journal of Education, 170(1), 27–40.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Gerber, J.
    (2013, August 3) LBOTE students and teaching and learning English. Lecture, Macquarie University.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Gorfinkel, L.
    (2014, October 1) What does it mean to respect linguistic diversity? Challenges and possibilities for mainstream Australian university contexts. Staff Research Seminar,. Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University.
  25. Guba, E. , & Lincoln, Y.
    (1994) Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp.105–117). London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Hage, G.
    (1998) White nation: Fantasies of white supremacy in a multicultural society. Annandale, NSW: Pluto Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Han, J. , & Singh, M.
    (2007) Getting World English speaking student teachers to the top of the class: Making hope for ethno‐cultural diversity in teacher education robust. Asia‐Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 35(3), 291–309. doi: 10.1080/13598660701447239
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13598660701447239 [Google Scholar]
  28. Harbon, L. & Moloney, R.
    (2013) Language teachers and learners interpreting the world: Identifying intercultural development in language classroom discourse. In F. Dervin & A. J. Liddicoat , (Eds.), Linguistics for intercultural education (pp.139–159). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/lllt.33.09har
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.33.09har [Google Scholar]
  29. Harbon, L. , & Moloney, R.
    (2015) ‘Intercultural’ and ‘Multicultural’, awkward companions: The case in schools in New South Wales, Australia. (p.15–34) In H. Layne , V. Trémion & F. Dervin , (Eds.), Making the Most of Intercultural Education (pp.15–34). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Hickling-Hudson, A.
    (2003) Multicultural education and the postcolonial turn. Policy Futures in Education, 1(2), 381–401. doi: 10.2304/pfie.2003.1.2.13
    https://doi.org/10.2304/pfie.2003.1.2.13 [Google Scholar]
  31. Kanno, Y.
    (2000) Bilingualism and identity: The stories of Japanese returnees. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 3(1), 1–18. doi: 10.1080/13670050008667697
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050008667697 [Google Scholar]
  32. Kvale, S.
    (1996) Interviews: An introduction to qualitative research interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Lai, C. , Shum, M. S. K. , & Zhang, B.
    (2014) International mindedness in an Asian context: the case of the International Baccalaureate in Hong Kong. Educational Research, 56(1), 77–96. doi: 10.1080/00131881.2013.874159
    https://doi.org/10.1080/00131881.2013.874159 [Google Scholar]
  34. Le Cornu, R. , & Ewing, R.
    (2008) Reconceptualising professional experiences in pre-service teacher education… reconstructing the past to embrace the future. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(7), 1799–1812. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2008.02.008
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2008.02.008 [Google Scholar]
  35. Lo Bianco, J.
    (1987) National policy on languages. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Mayer, D. , Luke, C. , & Luke, A.
    (2008) Teachers, national regulation and cosmopolitanism. In A. Phelan & J. Sumsion , (Eds.), Critical readings in teacher education: Provoking absences (pp.79–98). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Merriam, S.
    (2009) Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Miller, J.
    (2010) Chinese pre-service teachers in Australia: Language, identity, and practice. In J. Ryan & G. Slethaug , (Eds.), International education and the Chinese learner (pp.129–148). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. doi: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888028450.003.0008
    https://doi.org/10.5790/hongkong/9789888028450.003.0008 [Google Scholar]
  39. Mills, C. , & Ballantyne, J.
    (2010) Pre-service teachers’ dispositions towards diversity: Arguing for a developmental hierarchy of change. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26, 447–454. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2009.05.012
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2009.05.012 [Google Scholar]
  40. Moloney, R. & Oguro, S.
    (2014) The effect of intercultural narrative reflection in shaping pre-service teachers’ future practice. Reflective Practice, 16(1), 96–108. doi: 10.1080/14623943.2014.969699
    https://doi.org/10.1080/14623943.2014.969699 [Google Scholar]
  41. New South Wales Government
    New South Wales Government (2013) Language diversity in NSW government schools in 2013. Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation Bulletin. Issue5. Retrieved fromwww.cese.nsw.gov.au/images/stories/PDF/2013-LBOTE-Bulletin_v4.pdf.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Norton, B.
    (2000) Identity and language learning: Gender, ethnicity, and educational change. Harlow: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Russell, G. M. , & Kelly, N. H.
    (2002) Research as interacting dialogic processes: Implications for reflexivity. Forum Qualitative Research, 3, 3. Available at: www.qualitativeresearch.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/831/1807.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Ryan, G. W. , & Bernard, H. R.
    (2000) Data management and analysis methods. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln , (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp.769–802). Thousand Oaks: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Safford, K. & Kelly, A.
    (2010) Linguistic capital of trainee teachers: knowledge worth having?Language and Education, 24(5), 401–414. doi: 10.1080/09500781003695567
    https://doi.org/10.1080/09500781003695567 [Google Scholar]
  46. Santoro, N.
    (2013) The drive to diversify the teaching profession: narrow assumptions, hidden complexities, Race Ethnicity and Education, 18(6), 1–19.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Singh, M.
    (2009) Using Chinese knowledge in internationalising research education: Jacques Rancière, an ignorant supervisor and doctoral students from China. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 7(2), 185–201. doi: 10.1080/14767720902908034
    https://doi.org/10.1080/14767720902908034 [Google Scholar]
  48. Vollmer, H. J.
    (2006) Language across the curriculum – A way towards plurilingualism. In W. Martyniuk , (Ed.), Towards a Common European Framework of Reference for Language(s) of School Education? (pp.177–192). Krakow: Universitas.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Watson, J. , Solomon, B. , Morote, E-S. , & Tatum, S.
    (2011) The effects of speaking a second language in teachers’ multicultural understanding. One Voice International Conference and Forum, Washington, DC.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Yosso, T.
    (2005) Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8, 69–91. doi: 10.1080/1361332052000341006
    https://doi.org/10.1080/1361332052000341006 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): identity; plurilingual; Pre-service teachers; teacher education; transnational
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error