International Journal of Bilingual Education and


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Multilingual school population: ensuring school
belonging by tolerating multilingualism
Anouk Van Der Wildt, Piet Van Avermaet & Mieke Van Houtte
To cite this article: Anouk Van Der Wildt, Piet Van Avermaet & Mieke Van Houtte
(2015): Multilingual school population: ensuring school belonging by tolerating
multilingualism, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, DOI:
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Date: 07 September 2016, At: 08:40

Insights about pupils’ integrated usage of multilingualism and its possible benefits for learning. which allows us to focus on how the integration of these realities in school life might affect pupils’ academic results and well-being. ideologies about language are used in order to reach the ideal of a homogeneous many teachers believe that linguistic diversity has negative effects on the school as a context for learning (Dooly 2005. Belgium ABSTRACT ARTICLE HISTORY Societies have become super-diverse due to migration and globalization. Ghent.1080/13670050. this does not necessarily mean that they . has shown how multilingual children use their linguistic repertoires in a natural and integrated way (e. or at least multilingualism in terms of parallel monolingualisms.1125846 Multilingual school population: ensuring school belonging by tolerating multilingualism Anouk Van Der Wildta. are imposed not only on the level of nation-state policies but only through the institutions on the meso level. Gogolin 2002). multilingualism. put pressure on the ideology of a nation-state as being linguistically and culturally homogeneous (Blommaert and Verschueren 1991): since nation-states are framed as being homogeneous wholes. Research on multilingualism has given us insight into the multilingual realities of pupils. common practices of integrated use of different language are often seen as a deficit (Heller 1999).INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND BILINGUALISM. Influenced by these language ideologies. Received 19 January 2015 Accepted 16 November 2015 KEYWORDS Sense of school belonging. Jorgensen 2005). Many mainstream classroom teachers feel managing the linguistic variety children bring to school is challenging. diversity is seen as a threat. diversity. however.vanderwildt@ugent. Van Avermaet. and thus learn. in which 1255 teachers and 1761 pupils participated. Ghent. Belgium.doi. and Agirdag 2016) and do not know how to handle the linguistic diversity pupils bring to school (Agirdag 2009. This often leads to teaching practices that discourage multilingualism and ignore the multilingual background of many pupils (e. school composition Introduction The influx of migrants and the increased diversity it has caused. have brought scholars like García (2009) and Cummins (2001) to theorize about the integration of pupils’ multilingual realities in education. García 2009.2015. Piet Van Avermaetb and Mieke Van Houttea a Department of Sociology. The survey data come from 67 Flemish primary schools. This study examines how teachers’ tolerant practices toward multilingualism might mediate the relationship between schools’ linguistic diversity and pupils’ school belonging. Ideologies of monolingualism. Amongst other things. 2015 http://dx. Ghent University. Coleman 2010). Center for Diversity and Learning. This often leads to restrictive language policies. due to the ideologies of monolingualism. such as schools (Blommaert and Van Avermaet 2008). school effects research. Stepwise multilevel modeling showed that teachers’ tolerating practices towards multilingualism statistically compensate for the negative effects of linguistically diverse schools on school belonging. Although pupils are studying in a monolingual context. home languages. bDepartment of Linguistics.g. Pulinx. CONTACT Anouk Van Der Wildt © 2015 Taylor & Francis anouk.g. Sociolinguistic research. However. Ghent University. in a monolingual way (Busch 2010).

Therefore. are more engaged in school life and invest more in learning (Osterman 2000). Van Houtte and Stevens 2009). linguistic diversity and tolerant teaching practices towards multilingualism. less has been said about the variation of such practices and their consequences for pupils across different school contexts. However. A stronger SSB. research has shown different levels of SSB in pupils from different ethnicities.2 A. Pupils with a higher SSB. although this variable could be seen both as a predictor or a consequence of SSB. Van Houtte and Stevens 2009). Next. or feelings of inclusion and support in the school social environment’ (Jimerson. The effect of different aspects of school climate has been looked into (e.g. amongst many other factors. in contrast. pupils from a higher socio-economic background are shown to have stronger SSB (e. We examine the effects of linguistic composition on SSB and focus on how this relationship may be mediated by teachers’ perspectives on multilingualism. have more positive attitudes toward school. School level variables that have been investigated with respect to their effect on SSB are school size. it is interesting to focus on the impact of different aspects of the school context using large scale quantitative methods – aspects such as the composition of pupil population and shared practices towards multilingualism among teachers in schools – in order to determine how these aspects affect pupils’ sense of school belonging (SSB). interlock. Creve. Ma 2003. Smerdon 2002). and Blum 2002).g. Do pupils feel more connected to school life if their languages are welcomed? Theoretical framework In this section. school belonging. and Blum 2002) or no effect (e. and sector (public or private school). while school features are rarely considered (Fredricks. though a few exceptions to this general tendency exist (McNeely. urbanity. Demanet and Van Houtte 2012) show a similar lack of influence. It is suggested that the sense of belonging of ethnic minority pupils could be a result of their minority status in the school context rather than of their ethnicity itself (Anderman and Freeman 2004). and Paris 2004). Some studies show higher levels of SSB in white pupils (McNeely. and Blum 2002). teachers and peers. Demanet and Van Houtte 2012. Nonnemaker.g. Anderman 2003. as have the effects of teacher roles and relations on SSB (e. In addition. Nonnemaker. research has indicated a gender difference in SSB. and Willaert 2006.g. Ma 2003. Nonnemaker. From previous research. VAN DER WILDT ET AL. and Blum 2002. . moreover. and are at higher risk for delinquency (Finn 1989) and drug use (Fletcher et al. Research on the determinants of SSB has predominantly focused on pupil characteristics. Blommaert. while urbanity (e. School size has been found to have a negative (e. and Blum 2002) and school sector (e. Firstly. 2009). and Greif 2003). some important predictors of SSB have been indicated. Pupils with a low SSB drop out of school more often (Finn 1989). leads to high academic achievement (Goodenow 1993). and Elder 2001). and Blum 2002). while others found whites scoring lower than African Americans (Voelkl 1997). Nonnemaker. McNeely. grade point average is positively related to SSB (Demanet and Van Houtte 2012.g.g. might have behavioral problems (Johnson.g. Boys generally score lower than girls (e. Demanet and Van Houtte 2012. Although studies have mainly concentrated on the consequences of sense of belonging (Anderman and Freeman 2004). McNeely. McNeely. Crosnoe. Then we will elaborate on how the central concepts in this article. Heller 1999). Ma 2003. Nonnemaker. classwork.g. Phyllis. Campos. School belonging has a far-reaching impact on pupils. These general school characteristics have shown rather small effects on the SSB. Nonnemaker. Demanet and Van Houtte 2012) on SSB. by language ideologies emphasizing the importance of separating different languages for instruction and excluding some linguistic resources from the learning context (e. we will first focus on the concept of pupils’ SSB. we know that teachers’ language practices are influenced. What is school belonging? School belonging can be described as ‘feelings of connectedness to school or community.g. McNeely. Finally.

or no effect at all. Nonnemaker. while a lower prestige is attributed to ‘peripheral accents’ such as Turkish (Blommaert. and Manning 1997). Although research shows that for . they supported and reproduced them at the same time. Similar tendencies have been seen in pupils: Agirdag (2010) found that both native monolingual and immigrant bilingual pupils (14–17 years old) believed home languages other than the dominant language were obstacles to academic success. and Extra 2001. In that way. Teachers often believe that multilingualism in low prestige languages harms pupils’ development (Gogolin 2002). 202). monocultural reality in pupils (Hélot 2012). Blommaert and Verschueren (1992) call this the dogma of homogeneism. Vertovec 2007 for the UK). which they define as ‘a view of society in which differences are seen as dangerous and centrifugal. not linguistic composition (e. and Blum 2002). despite the strong dogma of homogeneism (Blommaert. the higher the SSB is among pupils. Van Houtte and Stevens 2009). Kiger. and Slembrouck 2005). Different languages are ascribed different values: high prestige is attributed to ‘central accents’ such as English. In this way. Jaspers (2011) noticed that. Experiencing diversity: how diversity pushes teachers into new perspectives on multilingualism Many teachers find that dealing with diversity is difficult (Dooly 2005). they feel unprepared to teach multilingual pupils (Coleman 2010. we will elaborate on this topic later. but rather ideologically composed by a certain context such as the school (Aarssen. and in which the “best” society is suggested to be one without intergroup differences’ (362). and Elder 2001. and Elder 2001. and Blum (2002) found that SSB is relatively high in ethnically segregated schools and lowest in mixed schools. Hélot 2012). Very often. (1997) nor Van Houtte and Stevens (2009) found significant effects of ethnic heterogeneity on SSB in the Flemish context. McNeely. they are confronted with reluctance vis-à-vis their home language at school (Gogolin 2002). Similarly. Since this predictor will be the focus of this research. This is a tendency not only seen in Europe (Gogolin 2002 for Germany. Findings indicate that highly diverse schools jeopardize pupils’ SSB (e. Crosnoe. whereas neither Battistich et al. a hierarchy of languages is constructed. pupils are decapitalized in the sense that they cannot use their home languages as symbolic capital in the classroom (Martín Rojo 2013).g. populations have become super-diverse due to changing migration patterns (Vertovec 2007). Super-diversity: how diversity May influence pupils’ SSB Over the last decades. pupil body composition has been researched (e.INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND BILINGUALISM 3 Smerdon 2002) – both showing mixed results. Collins. Research into the link between diversity in the school context and the schools’ coherence leaves a mixed impression.g. although ethnic minority pupils often contested and made fun of linguistic hierarchies. This increased diversity puts pressure on the ideology of a nation-state as being linguistically and culturally homogeneous (Blommaert and Verschueren 1991). Since many pupils with a multilingual background use languages of lower prestige at their home. McNeely. Gogolin 2002). but this research has focused on ethnic.g. Johnson. and Elder (2001) found that the more peers of one’s own ethnic group are present at school. Crosnoe. Collins. Broeder. Some research has been done into the effects of a school’s composition on pupils’ SSB. Research has thus either shown a significant negative effect of diversity on SSB. which leads to teaching practices that ignore the multilingual background of a lot of pupils. which is not linked to the inherent complexity of languages. Teachers’ beliefs and classroom behavior are strongly influenced by an ideology of linguistic uniformity and thus presume a monolingual. Yet some languages do get a place. This dogma of homogeneism and the hierarchy of languages can also be found in teachers’ and pupils’ ideas. and Slembrouck 2005. Crosnoe. Johnson. As a last important school level predictor of SSB. Johnson. but also in the USA (Byrnes. Nonnemaker. Anderman and Freeman 2004).

g. Lee et al. but these have not yet been linked to teaching practices concerning . a school’s point of view and teachers’ beliefs and practices is thus not straightforward. such as the language beliefs expressed by teacher colleagues (Ricento and Hornberger 1996). mainstream language ideologies might prescribe how teachers should manage pupils’ multilingual repertoires. every teacher brings different life experiences to school (Ricento and Hornberger 1996). Hélot 2010. and Agirdag (2016) found that as much as 77% of Flemish teachers agreed that non-Dutch-speaking pupils should not be allowed to speak their home language at school. More experience with a diverse pupil population seems to help teachers to cope with challenges resulting from linguistic diversity. Youngs and Youngs (2001) research. This leads to the belief that it is in the best interest of pupils to suppress linguistic diversity in classrooms (McLaughlin 1992). Youngs and Youngs (2001) found a positive effect of diversity in their contacts with multilingual pupils on teachers’ attitudes. Nevertheless. most multilingual pupils. Menken and García 2010). VAN DER WILDT ET AL. Qualitative observations in very diverse classrooms show a strong monolingual ideology in teaching practices (e. Various studies have found a positive impact of teachers’ exposure to diversity on attitudes towards diversity at school (Pohan et al. thus. learning disadvantages originate rather from socio-economic backgrounds than from multilingual practices at home (Van der Slik 2006). while this article will focus on tolerant practices towards multilingualism reported by teachers. Van Avermaet. and those teachers’ attitudes are more positive than those of teachers without these experiences. 2007). meso and micro levels (Ricento and Hornberger 1996). Some teachers might be ‘soldiers’ advocating a certain ideology (Shohamy 2006). Pulinx. Van Avermaet. but this does not always match their practices of flexible bilingualism in the classroom. It might therefore be that teachers in more diverse schools think more positively about multilingualism. Cekaite and Evaldsson 2008). although teachers do allow multilingualism on rare instances and in rather small amounts in classrooms that bring together children with very diverse linguistic backgrounds (Cekaite and Evaldsson 2008. 2009). There is. however. The perspective that teachers are influenced by a large array of possible experiences and perspectives clarifies why teachers always possess some capacity to oppose to the philosophy of both macro and meso levels (e. At the macro level. a tension between the strong emphasis of the teacher on the use of the dominant language as the language of instruction. a belief that strongly mirrors the ideology of the Flemish government. Former research has shown the important aspects for pupils to build a strong SSB. Some teachers might have experience with multilingualism in their own home context while others do not. they feel they are losing control of what happens (Berben. the school context can influence teachers through differences in school vision and teacher team characteristics. On the meso level. This tension might be due to the exposure of teachers to influences at macro. teachers persist in seeing multilingualism in low prestige languages as an important source of learning difficulties (Van den Branden and Verhelst 2007). Allowing home languages in the classroom makes teachers uncomfortable. Teachers in very mixed schools might be additionally affected by the extra teacher training focusing on diversity that is often provided in these schools (Tatar and Horenczyk 2003). Teachers working with diverse pupil populations have more familiarity and contact with them. The role of teachers for pupils’ SSB: applications to pupils’ multilingualism Teachers are important for developing pupils’ SSB. The link between ideology.4 A. Ramaut and Sierens (2011) observed that the home language of pupils was banned from the classroom and teachers advocated a maximum exposure to the dominant language.g. and Van Gorp 2007). Shohamy 2006). At the micro level. That contrast might even be seen as a continuum on which teachers can take in-between positions: research by Creese and Blackledge (2011) has noted that teachers might explicitly express beliefs of separate bilingualism in their discourse. while others might also invest in changing or opposing those ideologies on macro or meso levels (Galdames and Gaete 2010. interaction and learning in the classroom. this also means that 23% of teachers do not support the official policy (Pulinx. and the positive effects of linguistic diversity on language attitudes. and Agirdag 2016). has only focused on teachers’ attitudes. Van den Branden.

it is the natural way in which the multilingual brain ‘languages’ (Chung 2006. Is it true that linguistic diversity at school leads to lower SSB? The second research question is whether the relation between a school’s linguistic composition and SSB is mediated by the tolerant practices of teachers toward multilingualism in school. In this discourse. French was the official language used for administration and education (Wils 2009). Most of the languages that pupils with a multilingual background speak are seen as languages of low prestige (Aarssen. Multilingual pedagogies (García and Flores 2012). since the multilingual mind uses different languages simultaneously. to make pupils feel connected to school. so that they can use them in their learning. suggests that differences in how teachers deal with multilingualism might resonate in pupils’ feelings towards school. pupils themselves tend to perceive their home languages as having no didactical capital and thus useless in the learning process (Agirdag 2010. Pérez Milans 2006). Sierens and Van Avermaet (2014) made suggestions about how the learning process can benefit from the multilingual resources for learning. we argue that a link might exist between both. Heller 1999. these pupils often hear they have to concentrate on the dominant language. On the one hand. however. Due to processes of sub-state nation building. The focus will be the operation of the ‘dogma of homogeneism’ (Blommaert and Verschueren 1992) in the classroom. García (2013) advocates the integration of the multilingual repertoires of pupils in the classroom. In this respect it is important to take the multilingual competencies of pupils into account. as Cummins (2001. When Belgium was founded in 1830. ‘to reject a child’s language in the school is to reject the child’. Teachers always act in a way that they think is in the best interest of children: following the dominant language ideology motivates them to ban home languages from the school context to invest as much as possible in the dominant language (Pulinx.INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND BILINGUALISM 5 multilingualism before. some pupils might feel teachers hold lower expectations of them (Agirdag 2010).g. Therefore. and Extra 2001.g. but does this also count for practices? How do these tolerant practices impact pupils’ SSB? Study setting In Flanders. and Agirdag 2016). Although this is often perceived as a deficit. Linking what is known about SSB to knowledge on teaching practices towards multilingualism. it is important that they feel teachers hold high expectations of them (Blum 2005). Language is a way of expressing pupils’ identity (Rampton 2006). Cummins (2008) also states that the separation of the languages of a multilingual pupil is counterproductive for learning. Research questions The first research question is how the linguistic composition of a school influences pupils’ sense of belonging. Teachers in Flemish schools struggle with recognizing knowledge of languages of low prestige as an asset in the learning process due to a monolingual language ideology and hierarchy of languages. Therefore. Doing this enforces pupils’ feelings that teachers do not believe in them (e. Gogolin 2002). On the other hand. The linguistic repertoires that pupils possess should thus rather be utilized to the benefit of learning. Broeder. Youngs and Youngs 2001). Van Avermaet. while their home languages are portrayed as barriers for school success (Agirdag 2009. 19) said. Research has shown that exposure to diversity leads to tolerant attitudes (e. the . resulting in pupils’ impressions that teachers do not believe in them. they need to feel supported by teachers (Blum 2005) and this might be something that is lacking for multilingual pupils in a monolingual school context. Van den Branden and Verhelst 2007). research shows that for children to feel involved in school life. the Dutch-only language ideology has a long history and a lot of advocates (Van Velthoven 2011. Kroon 2015). Agirdag 2010) and might jeopardize pupils’ SSB. In what follows. Wils 2009). When teachers do not value all languages equally. emphasis is laid on pupils’ weaknesses. while teachers who teach in a very diverse setting do not need proficiency in every language represented in their classroom. can inspire teachers regarding how to support linguistic minority pupils appropriately.

Languages besides Dutch that are most often spoken at home are French. In Brussels. one is required to show the willingness to learn Dutch before being considered for social housing. Since schools are swamped with requests to participate in research. first served’-practice. the response rate is rather low (31% of the initial sample participated).8% were present during our visit and 75. Of the pupils. however. Turkish. They use a ‘first come. Arabic. More than 16% of the primary school pupils speak a language other than the dominant language at home.4% of teachers completed the survey. a certain nervousness about the presence of other languages persists (Blommaert and Van Avermaet 2008). were seen as an important factor in these processes and Dutch was gradually enforced as an official language in Flanders (Van Velthoven 2011). Galdames and Gaete 2010). Sample The data originate from a survey in 67 primary schools in Flanders. and this proportion is still increasing (personal communication. we will review the measures that have been added in the multilevel regression analysis (both on the school level and on the pupil level). we selected three Flemish regions with linguistically diverse populations and then schools within these regions.6 A. The data were gathered between October and December 2012 as part of the XXXX-project (censored for reasons of anonymity). Data from 2000 show that Dutch the sole home language in only 18% of the homes of pupils in the Dutch-speaking schools in Brussels (Verlot et al. . 95. 2012).3% of the population being of foreign background (data from 2008) (Non-profit data 2011. The dogma of homogeneity and hierarchy of languages might be very powerful (Blommaert and Verschueren 1992). the knowledge of Dutch is still key to policies in Flanders (Blommaert and Van Avermaet 2006). but schools and individual teachers deal with different languages in a variety of ways (e. but does not entirely determine teacher behavior. Dutch language proficiency is believed to be an important aspect of being a member of Flanders (Blommaert and Van Avermaet 2008). Wils 2009). Turks and French (in this order. Spanish and Italian. The largest groups registered as foreigners living in Flanders are Dutch. Although reality shows that Flanders is a multilingual region. First. Schools decide which research to participate in on the basis of when they are invited and whether a commitment to a research team can be combined with the existing workload at that time. has a very diverse linguistic landscape. there is a section on research design in which we explain how the analyses have been built up. 26 October 2012). Agentschap voor Onderwijsdiensten. Brussels excluded. We conducted multistage sampling. For instance. which results in a response that is unrelated to schools’ linguistic composition. English. more than half of the population uses at least two languages at home. Blommaert and Verschueren 1992). Flanders. although an informed guess can be made from the ethnic background of the inhabitants. g. Italians. A clear tendency towards a Dutch-only attitude and policy can be distinguished in Flemish schools (Smet 2011). dominance of French became contested by Flemish (Blommaert 2006): Dutch varieties. 2003). with 13. while in a lot of situations in the large cities the knowledge of other languages is more useful than that of Dutch (Blommaert and Van Avermaet 2006). At the end of the methods section. Methodology After discussing the sample used for this study. Notwithstanding that the Dutch language has gained a very strong position as official language nowadays. with languages other than Dutch or French as strongly growing home languages (Janssens 2013). which later on became more standardized. resulting in a participation of 1761 fourth-graders and 1255 teachers. Moroccans. VAN DER WILDT ET AL. It is unknown how many inhabitants speak which languages in Flanders (Van Velthoven 2011. The Dutch-only language ideology still has consequences for minority populations and incoming migrants (Agirdag 2009. Dutch is believed to be an indispensable factor for educational and professional success. data from 2006) (Statbel 2012).

The average linguistic diversity in this study is 0.7).81% 11.25) Mean or % (SD) N 3.39% 48. Eight items were selected and the Cronbach’s alpha for this scale was 0. Item correlation substitution was used for missing values (Huisman 2000). School level variables Three measures have been used at the school level: linguistic diversity of the pupil population. Descriptive statistics for dependent and independent variables: frequencies (%).53% 24.7) 1768 10. Confirmatory factor Table 1. An overview of the descriptives of the included variables can be found in Table 1.90) 67 66 67 . An example of an item is: ‘I really feel at home at school’.46% 1667 1667 1667 1667 11.22% 50% 25% 50. The scores on each item ranged from 1 (completely agree) to 5 (completely disagree).30–4. we selected items that loaded higher than 0.63) 49.34% 56. Then the four items were given.86% 2. tolerant practices towards multilingualism in teachers and the mean socio-economic status (SES) of the school. Linguistic diversity is considered at the school level. Values for this index range from 0 to 1. The index is calculated using this formula: −1 × [(proportion linguistic group 1)2 + (proportion linguistic group 2)2 + … + (proportion linguistic group n)2] + 1. Putnam 2007) applied to linguistic composition by taking both group size of every linguistic group present and the diversity in linguistic groups into account. Using a confirmatory factor analysis. These statements deal with what you would tolerate or not if you were teaching pupils with a home language other than Dutch’. It is measured by using the Herfindahl index (Dronkers 2010.13 (12.42 (0. (1997) that were translated into Dutch. This reduced missing values from on average about 20% in the original items to about 11% in the items that were used for scale construction. they were averaged.17% 2.23 (0. yielding a mean of 3.76. They all started with ‘Pupils are allowed to use a different language than Dutch in order to’.INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND BILINGUALISM 7 Measures Dependent variable The dependent variable is SSB.46) 1838 1838 1838 1838 1838 1768 1745 1774 0. Tolerant practices toward multilingualism are measured in teachers using a four-item scale.13 (22. this could be Dutch or any other language.4 with a standard deviation of 0.25–5) Self-assessed multilingual proficiency Dutch dominant bilinguals Other language dominant bilinguals Balanced bilinguals Dutch-only home Ethnicity Moroccan Turkish Dutch Belgian Other descent Gender Grade retention SES (range 14–89) School level Linguistic diversity (range 0–0. ‘on the playground’ and ‘during group work’.3 on one component.21.22) 2. means and standard deviations. ‘in class’.77 (0. Variables Pupil level SSB (range 1. A value of 1 indicates that every pupil in the school uses a different language at home.77 (SD = 0. The original scale contains 10 items inspired by Eccles et al.78) Tolerant practices toward multilingualism (range 1. We replaced missing values in an item by the value of the item correlating most highly with that item. with a value of 0 indicating that only one home language is present at school. We introduced the items by stating ‘Every teacher has a proper way of teaching.38) Mean SES (range 28–76.7% 13. followed by four situations: ‘to explain the content to another pupil’.

On average.23 (SD = 0. The occupation codes based on the parents’ questionnaire were used. We used the ISCO-coding system to construct an ISEI scale to quantify the SES of pupils (Ganzeboom and Treiman 2013).22 on a scale from 1 to 5 with a standard deviation of 1. (3) balanced bilinguals are pupils who assess their skills in both languages as good or very good. only reformulated from the point of view of the pupils – and found that both correlated strongly (r = 0.53%) – the reference category – and other descent (24. Tolerant practices toward multilingualism were thus rather rare. we included five variables: self-assessed multilingual proficiency. we included the indicator of linguistic diversity . For this study we categorized pupils in 5 ethnic groups: Turkish (13. These dummies are compared to the reference category: pupils who only speak Dutch at their homes.86. we chose to use grade retention as a crude indicator of achievement. while scoring themselves lower at their other language. indicating that teachers within schools resemble each other more than teachers from different schools (Shrout and Fleiss 1979).8 A. By aggregating this characteristic. We included the pupils’ gender. no random slopes were included. Pupils’ self-assessed multilingual proficiency is a categorical variable that indicates how pupils assess themselves in different languages.17%). The ICC was 0. with the same number of girls and boys in our sample. This indicates that no important social desirability bias for this measure exists. Then we aggregated this to the school level by taking the mean of the SES scores of the fourth-graders in a school. Pupil level variables At the pupil level. 181 Dutch dominant bilinguals. with 25% of the pupils ever repeated a grade. teachers scored 2. It resulted in the inclusion of three dummies in the model: (1) Dutch dominant bilinguals are pupils who assess their Dutch as good or very good. we first looked at the birthplace of the grandmothers. measured in teachers. Moroccan (11.39%). Since we did not have grade point average (GPA) scores. if this was missing we looked at the parents’ birthplace. We started with the unconditional model to determine the amount of variance of SSB at the school level. which legitimized aggregation to the school level. To measure the mean SES of a school. This was the case for 37% of the pupils. (2) other language dominant bilinguals assess their other language as good or very good while they assess their Dutch as not that strong. In our model. Grade retention – as reported by the pupils – was included. We compared the reported tolerant practices by the teachers with the perceived tolerant practices by the pupils – measured by the same items. SES. We aggregated the measure by taking the mean and used that mean as a school level variable.63). based on a one-way ANOVA and calculated as (Between Mean Square−Within Mean Square)/Between Mean Square) to assess if teachers’ tolerant practices toward multilingualism were shared at the school level. but when these were missing we used data from the pupils. The scores in this sample ranged from 0 to 100. we were able to enter it into the multilevel model that was based on pupil data. Dutch (2. We used the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC.91. ethnicity.17%). In our sample we found 191 children from Dutch-only homes.669).22%). 39 other language bilinguals and 947 balanced bilinguals. to the school level. with a mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 22. Belgian (48. analysis showed all items measure the same underlying concept and the scale’s Cronbach’s alpha was 0. The mean of this aggregated measure is 2. we used multilevel regression analysis. we used the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO)-coding system to construct an International Socio-Economic Index of Occupational Status (ISEI) scale (Ganzeboom and Treiman 2013) (see the section on pupil level variables for more details). only a random intercept. Then. VAN DER WILDT ET AL. Research design Since pupils in the sample were nested in schools and we included variables into the analysis of pupil and school level. To define the ethnicity of pupils. The average of the schools’ SES is 49 with a standard deviation of 13. gender and grade retention.

the schools’ SES composition in the model was entered (Model 2).048 0.668*** −0.043 0.043.03 −0.764*** 3.679*** −0. we could assess whether the effect of tolerant practices varied between pupils with different multilingual backgrounds. **p < . nor did it have any significant effect when we entered the control variables at the school and pupil level (Table 2. Results The unconditional multilevel analysis (pupils nested within schools) indicated that 8. we included tolerant practices toward multilingualism. Association between linguistic diversity. ***p < . which is a common control variable in research into school level effects on pupils’ SSB (e.001.16 Tolerant practices Mean SES school Pupil level Gender (reference category = boys) 0.111** −0.058 0.168** −0. Demanet and Van Houtte 2012.056 −0.174* −0.107* −0.525*** −0.042 0.171** −0. Johnson.INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND BILINGUALISM 9 (Model 1). since we wanted to find out if tolerant practices toward multilingualism mediated the relationship between a school’s linguistic composition and pupils’ belonging. Model 2 3.004 0. Model 0 Model 1 Intercept 3. Grade retention was taken into account since prior achievement was shown to be related to pupils’ sense of belonging (Ma 2003).1. Models 2 and 3).g.061 −0.05). Next. In Table 2. which did not impact SSB either.046 0.521*** −0.01.001 0.05 −0.049 −0. The first research question focused on the effects of a school’s linguistic composition on sense of belonging. *p < . Model 1).003 −0. and Elder 2001) to distinguish the effects of socio-economical and linguistic composition of a school.108** −0.001 −0.29° 0.033 0.003 −0.209° 0. for ethnicity see Demanet and Van Houtte 2012.068 −0.763*** Model 3 3.32*** 0. In the last model (Model 5).111** −0. Crosnoe.026 0.204 −0. Self-assessed multilingual proficiency was included to establish the effect of linguistic composition above and beyond the individual effect of multilingual proficiency.669*** Model 5 3. Gender and ethnicity were controlled for since they have been demonstrated to relate to sense of belonging (for gender see Anderman 2003. In that way. grade retention.763*** School level Linguistic diversity −0.263 −0.511*** −0.321*** Model 4 3.319*** Grade Retention SES Etnicity (reference category = Belgian descent) Morocco Turkey Netherlands Other descent Self-assessed multilingual proficiency (reference category = Dutch-only home) Dutch dominant Other language dominant Balanced bilingual Cross-level interactions Tolerant practices × Dutch dominant bilingual Tolerant practices × Other language dominant bilingual Tolerant practices × balanced bilingual Dependent variable: SSB. °p < . In the fourth model.05.062 −0.042 0.062 −0. The pupil features we included were self-assessed multilingual proficiency. To check whether these effects hold even when controlling for individual characteristics.7% of the variance in SSB was between schools (variance between schools = 0.28° 0.003 −0. In Model 2 we included the schools’ SES composition. p < .068 . we then included interaction effects between tolerant practices toward multilingualism and self-assessed multilingual proficiency.001 −0. Linguistic diversity did not impact SSB significantly (Table 2. Goodenow 1993). tolerant practices and SSB. ethnicity and gender.172** −0. we entered the pupil level variables that have been demonstrated to relate to SSB (Model 3).

This interaction term was borderline significantly negative. Krull. This unexpected result raised the question whether the impact of tolerant practices on SSB differed for pupils with various self-assessed multilingual proficiencies. the dogma of homogeneity (Blommaert and Verschueren 1992). Girls (ɣ = 0. Van Avermaet. Model 3 (Table 2) we controlled for the pupil characteristics. The associations between self-assessed multilingual proficiency and sense of belonging did not change when adding tolerant practices to the model (Table 2. pupils bring a variety of languages to the school context. Model 4). since tolerant practices were positively correlated with linguistic diversity (r = 0. teachers compensated for the negative effects of linguistic diversity by being slightly more tolerant toward multilingualism in linguistically diverse schools.108. p < . Jorgensen 2005.01) and other language dominant bilinguals (ɣ = −0. p < . indicating that Dutch dominant bilinguals tended to have lower SSB in a more tolerant school environment. The effects of ethnicity and pupils’ SES were not significant.g. we used cross-level interaction terms to test this. the strong belief that allowing pupils to use their multilingualism at school might jeopardize the acquisition of the dominant language (Agirdag. For Dutch dominant bilinguals. To answer the second research question.1).05) and in this step the effect of linguistic diversity became borderline significant (ɣ = −0. teachers’ tolerant practices towards multilingualism functions as a suppressor in the relationship between linguistic diversity and pupils’ SSB. Analysis showed that the benefits of more tolerant practices toward multilingualism at school were equal for other language dominant bilinguals and balanced bilinguals as well as pupils from Dutch-only homes.29. p < . p < . We found no difference in SSB between balanced bilinguals and pupils from a Dutch-only home. we will elaborate on this in the discussion section.1).171. The self-assessed multilingual proficiency was associated with the SSB in pupils. VAN DER WILDT ET AL. Previous research. But does this changing student body composition have an impact on pupils’ SSB? Many teachers find themselves unprepared to handle the situation of increased variety in languages (Coleman 2010). These analyses showed that the effects of linguistic diversity held even when controlling for other aspects of diversity. Chung 2006. The group of Dutch dominant bilinguals (ɣ = −0. Rampton 2006).001) had a higher SSB than boys. the profound influence of these beliefs on teaching practices (Hélot 2012). Introducing a mediating term to the model makes the direct effect between independent and dependent variables disappear. and the unpreparedness of teachers to teach diverse class groups (Coleman 2010).209. p < .01) scored lower on SSB than pupils who had not. has shown how multilingual children use language for learning and identity formation (e. we discovered another trend (ɣ = −0. In the case of suppression. This trend indicated a suppression effect rather than the expected mediation effect.32. p < .6% of its variance at the school level. and Van Houtte 2013).525. Discussion Nowadays. Since this result surprised us. Since the latter is the case for our results. we entered tolerant practices into the model (Table 2.10 A. In the final model. The final model explained 8% of the total variance in SSB of pupils and 27. however. introducing the third variable (the suppressor) causes the relationship between the independent and dependent variable to become larger. Due to the specific history of Flanders. This indicated that. These insights indicate that the exclusion of multilingualism . The difference between a mediation and suppression effect is what happens to the direct effect between independent and dependent variable when adding a third variable (see also MacKinnon. Pupils who had repeated grades (ɣ = −0. Tolerant practices did not temper the negative effects of self-assessed multilingual proficiency on SSB.107. and Lockwood 2000). p < . p < . Model 4).258.001) scored significantly lower on SSB than pupils from a Dutch-only home. We conducted additional analyses (not shown) on various types of diversity (socio-economic and ethnic) to exclude the possibility that other types of diversity had provoked the found effect of linguistic diversity.05). motivate many schools to adopt a Dutch-only policy. Tolerant practices proved to be significantly related to SSB (ɣ = 0.

points in the same direction as the findings about ethnic diversity (Anderman and Freeman 2004. These results suggest that the ‘dogma of homogeneity’ (Blommaert and Verschueren 1992) also exists in schools. Pupils in schools that are more linguistically diverse feel less connected to school. The monolingual ideology they come into contact with in the home context might be difficult to match with a tolerant approach towards multilingualism in school. we found no difference in the effect of tolerant practices compared to children from Dutch-only homes. It seems that linguistic and ethnic diversity is an obstacle to pupils’ SSB. The finding that linguistic diversity comes with lower levels of SSB. However. . For these pupils. and their language is not an issue in the school context. differ or coincide. pupils’ SSB is not ‘harmed’ by this obstacle. The latter fit the monolingual norm. Therefore. Nonnemaker. it might be interesting to conduct the same research in a context where multilingualism is seen as an asset for learning by teachers. The different result for Dutch dominant bilinguals might in part be explained by conflicting messages between the contexts of the home and the school: Dutch dominant bilinguals might get the message at home that they should use Dutch as much as possible. and Blum 2002). However. and Elder 2001. while for other bilinguals. which might be why they more consistently follow the dominant language ideology in their teaching practices. and the more tolerant messages they get in school. since pupils’ linguistic and ethnic background are often linked (Heath and Cheung 2007. this experience is lacking for teachers in less diverse schools. Since teachers in more diverse schools are slightly more tolerant towards the usage of different languages. the negative effect on pupils’ SSB does not show. as our study shows. Nevertheless. this difference might be due to teachers’ experiences in diverse schools which might have shown them that a strict monolingual policy jeopardizes pupils’ emotional bonding with school and even their achievement. This difference can lead to confusion in these pupils and. We do see that teachers working in linguistically diverse schools more often contest the dominant monolingual ideology than their colleagues in less mixed schools. if diversity goes hand-in-hand with more tolerant practices that give it a place at school. This can lead to a feeling of conflict between the monolingual ideology they experience more often at home. Multilevel analysis shows that the negative effect of linguistic diversity is – either consciously or unconsciously – buffered by teachers’ tolerant practices towards multilingualism. we can support the findings of Youngs and Youngs (2001).INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND BILINGUALISM 11 might have a considerable impact on those pupils (e.g. We found a significant positive effect of tolerant practices towards multilingualism on sense of belonging. a lower SSB. this hypothesis should be looked into more profoundly in future research. even in highly diverse schools. This finding is of course not surprising. As they found that a higher linguistic diversity goes together with more positive attitudes in teachers towards multilingual pupils. The research questions answered in this article focus on the impact of the linguistic diversity in schools on pupils’ SSB and the possible mediating effect of tolerant practices towards multilingualism in this relation. The contexts of school and home differ in the extent to which they legitimize different languages (Bourdieu 1977). and compare the effects of such an environment on pupils’ SSB with the results in Flanders. McNeely. we also find positive effects of linguistic diversity on tolerant linguistic classroom practices. Johnson. when comparing the effects of tolerant practices on pupils with different self-assessed multilingual proficiency. Verhaeghe 2012). Cummins 2001). On the other hand. Still. Comparing these results with the literature on how diversity influences teachers’ tolerance towards multilingualism. the rates of tolerant practices are rather low. more tolerant teachers have a negative effect on their SSB. it seems that Dutch dominant bilinguals suffer from a more tolerant approach. since there are various ways in which the home and school context can interact. Crosnoe. Post-hoc analyses (not shown) indicate that the parents of Dutch dominant bilinguals prioritize the maintenance of their culture of origin significantly less than parents of other language dominant bilinguals or balanced bilinguals. which might even relate to their well-being and academic achievement. On the one hand.

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