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Bilinguals & Bilingualism

Our definition includes people ranging from the migrant worker who speaks with some difficulty the host country's language (and who cannot read and write it) all the way to the professional interpreter who is totally fluent in two languages. In between we find the foreign spouse who interacts with friends in his first language, the scientist who reads and writes articles in a second language (but who rarely speaks it), the member of a linguistic minority who uses the minority language at home only and the majority language in all other domains of life, the Deaf person who uses sign language with her friends but a signed form of the spoken language with a hearing person, etc.  Despite the great diversity that exists between these people, all share a common feature: they lead their lives with two (or more) languages.


Bilinguals remind us that linguistic space is rather a continuum of Language (…) it is not only languages that cohabit in the same space but (…) also an accompanying process of (…) ‘mixing of cultures and world views’ that is inpenetrable to some, troubling to others’.

                                                                                                         (Brutt-Griffler & Varghese, 2004)



Brutt-Griffler, J. & Varghese M. (2004). Introduction. Special Issue: (Re)writing bilingualism and the bilingual educator’s knowledge base. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 7(2) & 7(3): 93-101.


Grosjean, F. (1982) : Life with Two Languages – An Introduction to Bilingualism, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, Harvard University Press.

Grosjean, F. (1996) Living with two languages and two cultures.  In Parasnis, I. (Ed.). Cultural and Language Diversity and the Deaf Experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Grosjean, F. (2010) : Bilingual – Life and Reality, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, Harvard University Press., p.276.

Grosjean, F. (2015) : Parler plusieurs langues – Le monde des bilingues, Paris, Albin Michel, p. 229.



  • Code-switching is a not a rare and strange linguistic phenomenon. On the contrary, it is common within bilingual communities (but more common in informal exchanges such as communication between families and friends).

  • Code-switching is not a sign of disorder in bilingual communities and it is not connected with inadequate linguistic skills but it has many communicative functions.

  • Billinguals do not code-switch out of “pure laziness” and code-switching is never an incomprehensible mixture of languages-not for bilinguals themselves!


The society, the public, a social group

It is a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage. A social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists such as the business community; the community of scholars

A community is a social unit of any size that shares common values. Although embodied or face-to-face communities are usually small, larger or more extended communities such as a national community, international community and virtual community are also studied

Complementary schools (or Heritage Schools)

Complementary schools are schools that function after everyday schools and often teach the language of origin of the students attending it….

Critical Pedagogy

Critical pedagogy questions and interrogates the complex relationship between teaching and learning, as well as between teachers and learners. In this context, it relates to how students can be empowered by having their identities, languages and cultures recognised in their learning. Their multilingual stories become validated and valued across a range of contexts and educators and learners explore alternative modes of teaching, learning and imagining.


GIROUX, H. A. 2013. On Critical Pedagogy, New York and London, Bloomsbury Academic.


Dialogic Learning

Dialogic learning is learning that takes place through dialogue. It is typically the result of egalitarian dialogue; in other words, the consequence of a dialogue in which different people provide arguments based on validity claims and not on power claims.

Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

Dialogic Thinking

Dialogic thinking places a central importance on dialogue in stimulating thinking and learning. For example, in this project the act of composing a group multilingual digital story brought the varied perspectives and voices of studentsinto play. This creative process helps students learn how to structure their ideas and think dialogically.

Dialogic, as opposed to monologic, assumes that there is always more than one voice. More than this, dialogic assumes that meaning is never singular but always emerges in the play of different voices in dialogue together …. The point of dialogic education, is therefore, not so much transmission of representations, but drawing students into participation in dialogues in an ultimately unbounded context’ (Wegerif, 2013: 3).



Wegerif, R. (2013) Dialogic: Education for the Internet Age: London: Routledge


Dialogical Literary Gatherings

Dialogical literary gatherings are one of the successful actions in inclusive schools developed in the so called Learning Communities. They involve a process of collective and dialogic reading and interpretation of texts in a context where all participants are invited to provide arguments based on validity criteria and not on power claims (Translated from CONFAPEA).



CONFAPEA. (2012). Manual de Tertulia Literaria Dialógica. Web. 4 May 2014. <>



Emergent bilingual learner

An emergent bilingual learner is a learner who is in the process of becoming bilingual. Garcia et al. (2008) use this term to refer to children who speak a language other than the language of schooling at home and learn to function in a second language at school. 

García, Ofelia; Kleifgen, Jo Anne; Falchi, Lorraine (2008). From English Language Learners to Emergent Bilinguals. Equity Maters, research review N°1, Campaign for Educational Equity.


Identity texts

The products of children, creative works or performances, carried out within the pedagogical space orchestrated by the classroom teacher and which can be shared with a wide audience. Identity texts seem to hold up “a mirror to students in which their identities are reflected” in a positive way (Cummins & Early 2011: 3)

Cummins, J. & Early, M. (2011) Introduction. In: J. Cummins & M. Early (ed.), Identity TEXTS, the Collaborative Creation of Power in Multilingual Schools. UK & Sterling: Threntham Books.

Interactive Groups

Research has identified Interactive Groups as a very successful form of inclusion. In Interactive Groups classrooms are organized in small and mixed-ability groups of students who collaborate through dialogic interactions to solve learning activities. There are adults in each small group. These adults are most of the time volunteers from the community. The classroom teacher is in charge of managing the classroom dynamics and provides extra support when necessary. Interactive Groups improve academic achievement and solidarity among students (INCLUD-ED 2009, p. 67)

- INCLUD-ED. (2009). Actions for success in schools in Europe. European Comission Web 24 May 2014.

Intercultural education

Intercultural education emerges in response to major social issues, (demographic changes, mass migration, population movement due to war, political persecution, corruption or famine, integration of large groups of economic migrants and the subsequent realignments in the economic, social and cultural life). If these issues are not treated promptly and effectively they may lead to future problematic and intractable situations in modern societies. Intercultural Education aims to go beyond passive coexistence, to achieve a developing and sustainable way of living together in multicultural societies through the foundation of understanding of, respect for and dialogue between the different cultural groups (PEAP e-book: Intercultural activities).

It is about interaction, understanding and mutual respect, while cultural diversity is acknowledged and actively supported.

It means inclusion for all cultures by theory, design, planning and practice


Learning Power

Working together as a community, co-constructing knowledge that draws on multilingual and multicultural resources and enables children to develop multilingual identities

(Kenner & Ruby, 2012, Interconnecting worlds)



The creation of meaning in texts requires the use not only of the verbal but also of the visual way, while understanding the text needs to understand the messages expressed verbally and visually, such as photographs, diagrams, charts, maps, sketches play a significant role.

Kalantzis, M. & Cope, B. (2001) Πολυγραμματισμοί (Multiliteracies)


Kress and van Leeuwen have noted that visual communication is becoming so critical in the field of public communication, that inevitably attracts visual literacy is not just social approval, but is now a matter of survival. To learn to understand texts essentially means learning to "read" verbal and visual messages.



In its most basic sense, multimodality is the mixture of textual, audio, and visual modes in combination with media and materiality to create meaning. The collection of these modes, or elements, contributes to how multimodality affects different situations, or opportunities for increasing an audience's reception of an idea or concept. Everything from the placement of images to the organization of the content creates meaning.

Lutkewitte, Cl. (2013). Multimodal Composition: A Critical Sourcebook. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin's.



While multimodality as an area of academic study did not gain traction until the twentieth century, all communication, literacy, and composing practices are and always have been multimodal.

Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication. New York: Routledge.



Sense of community

In a seminal 1986 study, McMillan and Chavis identify four elements of "sense of community":

  1. membership,

  2. influence,

  3. integration and fulfillment of needs,

  4. shared emotional connection.

McMillan & Chavis (1986) define sense of community as "a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members' needs will be met through their commitment to be together."

McMillan, D.W., & Chavis, D.M. (1986). Sense of community: A definition and theory. Journal of Community Psychology, 14(1), 6-23.



Translanguaging is a powerful mechanism or a strategic language option of bilinguals to express experiences, to construct understandings and to interpret their bilingual reality through the daily use of the two languages (Garcia, 2009).

García (2009; 2011) views translanguaging - “or engaging in bilingual or multilingual discourse practices” (2009, p. 44) - as an approach to bilingualism that is centred not on languages, but on the observable, natural communicative practice of bilinguals and, if properly interpreted and understood and practiced in schools, as a means to enhance pupils’ cognitive, language and literacy abilities:

Translanguaging includes code-switching, the shift between two languages in context, and it also includes translation; however it differs from both of these simple practices in that it refers to the process by which bilingual students perform bilingually in the myriad ways of classrooms – reading, writing, taking notes, discussing, signing etc.

Translanguaging is not only a way to ‘scaffold’ instruction, to make sense of learning and language; rather, translanguaging is part of the metadiscursive regimes that students in the twenty-first century must perform (García, 2011, p. 147)



García, O. (2009). Bilingual education in the 21st century: a global perspective. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

García, O. (2011). Educating New York’s bilingual children; constructing a future from thepast. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. 14, 2: 133-153

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