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Thelanguagediversityandlanguage practicesofstudentteachersinLuxembourg


LCMIresearchunit, UniversityofLuxembourg

September 2011 University of Luxembourg and the author

ISBN 978-2-87996-539-0

Adam Le Nevez The language diversity and language practices of student teachers in Luxembourg

Luxembourg 2011 Universit du Luxembourg

The author of this report wishes to thank the many people who made this research possible: Rahel Stoike and Andreas Hadjar for their help with the data analysis, Sabine Ehrhart the leader of the LACETS2 research project and in particular the student teachers who participated in the research.

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................... 1 CHAPTER 1. THE SCIENTIFIC CONTEXT OF THE RESEARCH PROJECT ............ 7 1.1 THEORETICAL AND EPISTEMOLOGICAL CONTEXT ...........................................................................7 1.2 SCIENTIFIC TERMINOLOGY USED IN THIS REPORT ...................................................................... 10 1.2.1 A socio-pragmatic and functional approach.................................................................10 1.2.2 The difference between language profiles and language (auto)biographies ..............................................................................................................................................................................11 1.2.3 The difference between multilingualism and plurilingualism ...............................11 CHAPTER 2. DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROJECT .................................................. 13 2.1 RATIONALE FOR THE RESEARCH ....................................................................................................... 13 2.2 BACKGROUND AND PREVIOUS STUDIES ......................................................................................... 14 2.3 RESEARCH CONTEXT: THE FOPED TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMME ........................... 15 2.4 RESEARCH FOCUS AND QUESTIONS ................................................................................................ 16 2.5 RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES AND DATA COLLECTION .............................................................. 17 CHAPTER 3. THE LANGUAGE BIOGRAPHIES AND LANGUAGE PROFILE OF STUDENT TEACHERS .............................................................................................. 19 3.1 THE COHORT ............................................................................................................................................ 19 3.2 SUBJECTS TAUGHT ................................................................................................................................ 20 3.3 EARLY CHILDHOOD PRACTICES ......................................................................................................... 20 3.4 ADULT SPOKEN PRACTICES ................................................................................................................ 23 3.5 LITERACY PRACTICES ........................................................................................................................... 27 3.6 LANGUAGE CHOICES AND PREFERENCES ...................................................................................... 30 3.6.1 Preferences in speaking............................................................................................................30 3.6.2 Preferences in writing.................................................................................................................31 3.6.3 Perceptions of importance of language in personal life.........................................33 3.6.4 Perceptions of importance of language in professional life .................................34 3.7 REASONS GIVEN FOR RESPONSES TO LANGUAGE PREFERENCES AND SOCIAL UTILITY 35 3.7.1 Spoken language preferences: reasons given .............................................................37 3.7.2 Written language preferences: reasons given ..............................................................38 3.7.3 Language importance in personal life: reasons given .............................................42 3.7.4 Language importance in professional life: reasons given. ....................................43 3.8 A COMPARATIVE AND EVOLVING PICTURE OF THE LANGUAGE PROFILE OF LUXEMBOURGS STUDENT TEACHERS.................................................................................................... 46 3.8.1 The evolution of a language profile. ...................................................................................46 3.8.2 Differences between the big four languages ................................................................49 CHAPTER 4. LANGUAGE NORMS AND LANGUAGE DIVERSITY ......................... 53 4.1 COMPARING THE COHORT WITH NATIONAL DATA ....................................................................... 53 4.2. PERCEPTIONS OF LANGUAGE DIVERSITY AND PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE ......................... 57 4.2.1 Multilingualism and learning ...................................................................................................57 4.2.2 Classroom language policy .....................................................................................................61 4.2.3 Professional identity ....................................................................................................................64 4.2.4 Learning challenges.....................................................................................................................66


CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................... 68 MAIN RESEARCH FINDINGS ......................................................................................................................... 68 Language learning and linguistic diversity...................................................................................68 A normative language profile ..............................................................................................................68 A plurilingual practice ..............................................................................................................................69 A privileged relationship with Luxembourgish ..........................................................................69 The influence of formal education on language competency..........................................69 A homogeneous cohort..........................................................................................................................70 Equity in learning ........................................................................................................................................70 Differences between spoken and written language practices.........................................70 RECOMMENDATIONS ..................................................................................................................................... 71 FUTURE RESEARCH DIMENSIONS.............................................................................................................. 73 BIBLIOGRAPHY ........................................................................................................ 75 INDEX OF FIGURES ................................................................................................. 79 APPENDIX: RESEARCH QUESTIONNAIRE. ........................................................... 81


In the past century Luxembourgish society has profoundly changed. The nation was once a country dominated by a strong agricultural heritage and local, tightly knit communities. With the development of the industrial sector in the 19th century and the nations transformation into an international provider of financial services in the 20th century, large numbers of migrants came to Luxembourg, fundamentally changing the national demographic and challenging its sense of national identity. Currently resident foreigners make up 43% of the nations population, one of the highest percentages of any nation in the OECD. According to census figures, the largest group of resident foreigners are the Portuguese, of whom more than 80 000 live in the Grand Duchy1 (Statec 2009). To a large degree, as Luxembourgish society has evolved, the new has not replaced the old but has had an effect that is both additive and transformative. Despite its industry and wealth, Luxembourg remains a surprisingly agricultural nation. However the fields and forests are no longer tended by peasants but by wealthy, educated Luxembourgers. Likewise the arrival of large numbers of migrants has changed the social landscape but the strong social bonds between Luxembourgers based on family and local community remain. Luxembourg is officially a multilingual society and while the Luxembourgish vernacular serves as the social thread that ties the society together, other languages, including German and French as well as English and Portuguese play fundamental roles in the daily lives of many people. In recent years a growing awareness has developed in Luxembourg, at both local and national levels, that educational practices need to adapt and change to respond to the needs of a society that is in constant and rapid transformation. During the 20th century few educational reforms took place and it wasnt until the start of the 21st century policy makers began to think seriously about the educational and social challenges facing Luxembourg and what type of educational system would best respond to the current and future needs of Luxembourgish society. These challenges are many and varied, but they are all informed by a set of social principles, values and perspectives which include: The principle that multilingualism is a cornerstone of Luxembourgish identity and the ability to use the national languages plays a fundamental role in the articulation of this identity. This principle is

The total population in 2009 was just over 500 000

expressed in a large number of policy documents as well as in the discourses engaged in debates in the media and other social forums (see Weber and Horner 2010); A perception that large levels of migration create challenges that cannot simply be ignored and need to be addressed at a societal level and that education plays a key role in social integration, particularly for children from migrant communities (Ehrhart and Fehlen 2010); A perception that as a small country Luxembourg must be outwardlooking and pragmatic in questions of language, education, mobility and the like if it is to continue to enjoy a high standard of living, for example by encouraging university students to study abroad; A perception that as a small country, Luxembourg is potentially vulnerable and needs to promote and protect a collective national identity if it is to maintain its distinctiveness as well as its high standard of living. This perception is expressed, for example, in debates about the need to codify and promote Luxembourgish and the sense that it is a threatened language (see chapter 4); A sense that social change should be consensual and should not come at the expense of Luxembourgers in other words that Luxembourgers should not suffer from the consequences of policy decisions or from social reforms. A belief that schools should provide equitable opportunities for all children to succeed, to fulfill their potential and to become active members of society. These discursive tropes run through much of the public debate regarding language, education and social integration. As Weber and Horner (2010) have noted, however, they are often grounded in a discursive contradiction. On the one hand the notions of social equity, the value of diversity and cultural pluralism are publically promoted, whilst on the other, policy and practice tends to reinforce a normative national identity the ideal Luxembourger (Weber and Horner 2010). This identity, articulated through a specific form of trilingualism, continues to enjoy considerable prestige and advantage in society. Access to higher education, employment in the public service sector and many professions is regulated through language tests so that only those who can demonstrate appropriate competency in Luxembourgish, French and German can gain access, effectively excluding a large number of foreigners and migrant residents who may speak some, but not all, of the national languages.

Tension between the competing discourses of social equity and social privilege arises in almost all public debates, none more so than in the field of education where these tensions are played out both in policy and practice. School classrooms are the sites where the linguistic diversity of the resident population meets a multilingual curriculum. Academic success in this multilingual system is challenging for many pupils and for those whose family language practices do not reflect the national language objectives it is often highly problematic. Young people from migrant backgrounds are significantly overrepresented in unemployment figures, and significantly underrepresented in the prestigious secondary educational stream that leads to higher education (Weber and Horner 2010:249). Inequitable educational outcomes are not only due to language issues differences in socio-economic status, social class, the value families place on academic qualifications and the like certainly also play important roles. However, language is nevertheless fundamentally important to educational success and to social mobility. Because so much of the curriculum is consecrated to language learning, because language difficulties are one of the main reasons for academic failure and because pupils who are less strong in German and French tend to be oriented into vocational education streams at a very early age (at the end of primary school), language tends to act as a filter that inordinately limits educational opportunities for children from migrant communities (Council of Europe 2005:19). Likewise, in language-in-education policy and planning, the official discourse of the value of multilingualism and diversity often sits uncomfortably with the presence of non-national languages in the classroom. The curriculum, with its clear order of language and literacy acquisition, does not promote and reward multilingualism as a principle, but a specific form of multilingualism beginning with Luxembourgish as a vernacular and continuing with the acquisition of literacy in German and then French, and with the probable addition of English as well as Spanish and a number of other foreign languages (but notably not Portuguese). As Weber and Horner demonstrate, despite being aware that this linguistic hierarchy is inequitable, policy makers continue, consciously or unconsciously, to promote it by claiming that changing the language-ineducation policies at the heart of the public school system would lead to an undermining of social cohesion and unity (Weber and Horner 2010:248). Education in Luxembourg is therefore one of the main theatres where issues relating to language, learning, diversity and social equity are played out and it is teachers, who ultimately find themselves at the centre of these dramas. They are the ones who are expected to teach a multilingual curriculum to linguistically diverse classes. They are the ones who are charged with the dual responsibility of providing equitable opportunities for children to learn and achieve academic success whilst at the same time teaching a curriculum that 3

explicitly aims to reproduce a normative linguistic hierarchy which, for some pupils, bares little similarity to their family language practices and social reality. If they are to be able to do this successfully, teachers in Luxembourg need to be able to make sense of these competing discourses and to find strategies and techniques that allow them to practice their profession in ways that support the learning of their students. Clearly teachers are not the only ones responsible for dealing with these challenges, but they are, with their pupils, the ones who are most likely to be confronted by these tensions on a daily basis. Teachers therefore need support, particularly in the form of fundamental and ongoing education and professional development. If policy makers and politicians are serious about addressing the challenges inherent in providing equitable, high quality, multilingual education in a linguistically diverse society, then inevitably teacher education will play a key role. Teacher education in this context implies not only training in didactics but in language awareness, critical pedagogies, multiliteracies and other areas of professional practice. In recent years policy makers and researchers have begun to take a keen interest in issues surrounding multilingualism and diversity in the classroom and a number of research projects were set up at the University of Luxembourg to explore these issues further. One of these projects, the LACETS2 project, was aimed specifically at exploring language diversity in Luxembourgs schools. The French acronym LACETS stands for LAngues en Contact dans lEspace et dans le Temps et leur impact sur le milieu Scolaire au Luxembourg. The title signals a pragmatic approach to understanding language diversity in terms of the ways in which people interact with and through languages in diverse and changing ways. This multifaceted project was designed to look at diversity in education from the perspective of migrant families, diversity in primary schools and in the representations of diversity and language ideologies of teachers in high schools. This report presents the research data collected in the third facet of the LACETS2 project and focuses on the perceptions, representations and language practices of student teachers in the secondary high school formation pdagogique, known in Luxembourg as FOPED. By looking at teachers who are at the beginning of their careers, the aim of the research is to develop a greater understanding of their perceptions and practices of language and linguistic diversity in the classroom, as well as a clearer understanding of their professional and pedagogical needs in relation to this diversity. How do early-career teachers use language, how do they understand and represent linguistic diversity from an epistemological perspective, how do they value this diversity and how do they deal with this diversity in a professional context? Equally, the research aims to develop a language profile of the group and in particular to explore the extent to which 4

the language practices and backgrounds of student teachers reflect national language practices. In this way, a critical analysis of the language profile of the student teacher cohort can reveal a lot about the effects and outcomes of language-in-education policies in Luxembourg, as well as the discursive regimes that inform these policies. The report raises and discusses three main issues: the development of plurilingual language biographies of student teachers as well as their preferences and perceptions of language practices; the language profile of student teachers and the extent to which this is representative of national norms and ideals; and the role and responsibility of institutions, including schools and the teacher education programme, in addressing issues of linguistic diversity and equity in education. In addition, the report is interested in the epistemological, ideological and pedagogical tools available to policy makers, teachers and students through which our understanding of the issues surrounding multilingual education in Luxembourg is framed, and with which we are able to analyze and respond to these issues. The report is divided into four main chapters plus a conclusion. The first develops the social and scientific context of the research, developing the problematic and locating it in a theoretical and epistemological framework. In basic terms this can be described as critical and socio-pragmatic, looking at language practice as a situated social act. The second chapter outlines the research methodology of the project and discusses in greater detail the rationale for the research and the cohort of research participants. The third and fourth chapters provide a detailed analysis of the data, looking in particular at the language practices and preferences of student teacher participants, building up a language profile of the cohort and comparing this with national data. The conclusion contains a summary of the main findings of the report, some recommendations and addresses future research directions.

Chapter 1. The scientific context of the research project

1.1 Theoretical and epistemological context
Although much of the data in this project is quantitative in nature, the development of the project and much of the critical analysis has been informed by pragmatic, sociolinguistic and sociocultural approaches to language issues. This perspective is interested in how language is acquired and used in social contexts. It aims to describe the complex ways in which language practices and language norms interact and the ways in which people use and embody these practices. In this way it is interested in what people do with language and how they relate to the language practices that form part of their social identities. Language, from this perspective, is understood fundamentally as a socially situated practice one which is both diverse and in constant evolution. An important distinction is made between language practices all of those things we do together with language; and standard languages those particular language practices that have achieved a privileged and institutionalized status in society, usually by the codification and transmission of a particular language norm through education. In this way, standard languages are not seen as being neutral or natural instruments of communication that exist prior to, and independent from, their speakers, but rather, following Foucault (1976/2002; 1983), Bourdieu (1974; 1991) and Pennycook (1994; 2007; 2010), as the outcomes of particular constellations of institutional power. Having said this, the sociolinguistic theory underpinning the research project does not argue that standard languages are irrelevant or unnecessary but rather that we need to be aware of the ways in which language is both a site and a vector of social capital and symbolic power (Bourdieu 1991). Language norms exist and they are used in very particular ways to create social categories and hierarchies. In the case of language practices in Luxembourg, the acquisition of Luxembourgish as well as standard French and German is widely seen as an important and necessary pathway to legitimate participation in society and these languages form a powerful and prestigious linguistic troika in the nation. A fundamental role of education therefore is to equip young people with the social, intellectual and vocational skills they will need to be active members of society. In order to achieve this, it is insufficient for language education to 7

exclusively focus on the acquisition of standard languages: young people also need an awareness and knowledge of how to use these skills meaningfully and effectively in a variety of contexts, many of which will be plurilingual. This implies the development of complex literacies as they are described in a multiliteracies paradigm (Lo Bianco and Freedbody 1997; Cope and Kalantzis 2000; Cummins 2006) and in the development of literacies across diverse and different language norms and practices. These skills, and this awareness, are necessary because young people, both Luxembourgers and foreigners, will be judged in many ways by the languages they know and the ways in which they use these languages. We might argue that the existence of a linguistic market which excludes those who lack competency in particular language norms is inequitable. But it is important to acknowledge that it is also inequitable not to provide access to educational opportunities that allow young people and adults to participate in this market. In other words, we should be aware that because language can be a vector of social exclusion, many language-in-education policies have the paradoxical effect of both promoting linguistic inclusion and exclusion through the teaching of standard languages. They are inclusive for those who manage to learn and reproduce the norms and are exclusive for those who fail2. There is, however a way out of this paradox. Rather than insisting on the acquisition of particular language forms as a prerequisite for social integration, nor dismissing them as vectors of social inequity, we can develop critical language awareness about the social effects of language policy and practice and the relationship between language, power and identity in societies. This means helping school children to develop critical metalinguistic awareness so that they understand the relationship between language and power in society and so that they have the ability to use language in empowering ways. Before this is possible, however, we need to help teachers develop a critical awareness about language, linguistic diversity, education and social equity. The project presented in this report is grounded in the understanding that in modern day Luxembourg learning, and particularly language learning is neither simple nor straightforward. Pupils come to school with different language competencies, with different values and judgments about these language practices, they have different expectations about what learning is and what they can achieve, and they interact with each other and learn in diverse and different ways. Whether society considers this diversity desirable or not is an ideological question and while interesting, is not the direct topic of research. Rather, this project is interested in a pedagogical question: how to teach to this diversity

As Bourdieu (1991) has argued, the acquisition of these norms is much easier for the middle class and those whose language backgrounds most closely reflect the norms being taught.

and how to give each pupil the greatest opportunity to learn and develop socially and intellectually. A key factor in responding to this issue is to better understand how student teachers own language backgrounds influence the ways in which they understand learning in a linguistically diverse classroom and the extent to which they are willing and able to see language and learning issues from alternative perspectives, particularly those of their pupils. This is a complex issue that students everywhere, and not just in Luxembourg, need to deal with frankly and honestly if they are to become effective teachers. If we expect pupils to learn within, and adapt to, the highly complex linguistic environment they are faced with in Luxembourg, it is imperative that teachers themselves are not only aware of the challenges facing their pupils (challenges that may be very different to those that teachers themselves have faced), but are also able to support and guide pupils towards positive learning outcomes. The purpose of the project presented here is to shed some light on the ways in which student teachers understand the diversity they are faced with on a daily basis in their professional lives. Part of the project therefore has a pedagogical aim, through the raising of awareness of student teachers into many of these issues and helping them develop effective strategies to respond to these challenges. In order to do this, however, it is important to better understand the student teachers themselves. Anecdotal evidence gleaned through observation and in pilot research projects suggested in fact that students were not particularly aware of these issues and were not particularly motivated to ask themselves difficult questions about the relationship between pedagogy, language diversity and social equity. As one student who was interviewed as a part of a pilot research project remarked: we dont realise that we have this diversity because we grew up with it it is not that we dont care, but it is not something special. This project was designed with these issues in mind. Specifically it is interested in confirming or refuting a number of commonly held beliefs and opinions about student teachers, particularly in relation to their language backgrounds, their language skills, their language preferences as well as the ways in which they understand and conceptually frame issues relating to language and learning in the Luxembourg classroom. The research is particularly interested in exploring the extent to which the student teacher cohort is representative of the Luxembourg population and the extent to which student teachers language practices and backgrounds correspond to sociolinguistic norms and/or ideals. It aims to build a picture of the language biographies of individual student teachers which in turn help inform the language profile of the group.

The project was made possible through the contributions of student teachers who participated through the completion of a questionnaire. It was conducted with the support of the secondary teacher education section of the university of Luxembourg (FOPED), however it was conducted as a separate and independent research initiative. Although the research is informed by a critical approach to language-in-education issues, its aim is not to evaluate or criticize the performance, background or opinions of student teachers in Luxembourg, nor to evaluate or criticize the performance of FOPED. Rather, the project aims to provide some statistical data which can be used both for pedagogical purposes, for example in learning modules on plurilingualism and diversity, as well as in the organization and management of the teacher training programmes in Luxembourg. The author takes sole responsibility for the analysis and the critique contained in this report.

1.2 Scientific terminology used in this report

Although every effort has been made to make this report clear and accessible to non-linguists, some explanations of specific terminology may be useful. In particular, the theory informing the research can be described as critical, in the sense that it aims to bring into question some of the implicit ways in which power and agency are subsumed in debates about language, diversity, identity, educational success and integration in Luxembourg. Because of this it is important to be clear about terminology that may not be commonly used in educational contexts or which is used here in specific ways. 1.2.1 A socio-pragmatic and functional approach Broadly speaking, this research can be described as taking a socio-pragmatic and functionalist view of language. The research is interested in what people do with language, how they understand language and how language practices form an integral part of a persons social identity. In this way, sociopragmatism is not so much interested in languages as abstract concepts or codes but in people and what they do together with languages. It is interested in describing the linguistic context that people find themselves in, it is interested in how people conceptualize and understand this context how they make sense of it and value it, and it interested in looking at what people do with language how they use their language skills in different ways and for different reasons how and why they make the choices they do within their linguistic repertoire.


1.2.2 The difference between language profiles and language (auto)biographies In this report reference is made to both language profiles and language (auto)biographies. Language (auto)biographies have been used in educational contexts to explore the implicit and explicit language practices of individuals as they change and evolve over time. Often the pedagogical purpose of creating a language (auto)biography is to develop language awareness in a group (Perregaux 2002). The term refers to the ways in which people identify with the diverse and differently language practices they know, both standard and non-standard, the ways in which they feel about these languages, the development of their language practices over their lifetime, the language choices they make with their entourage and in society, the different ways in which they use language in oral and written contexts, and the like. While issues such as the number of languages or the competency speakers have in different standard languages help inform language (auto)biographies, more central is the question of personal identity and how this is formed and mediated through different and diverse language practices. In this way then, language (auto)biographies are subjective descriptions of the changing ways in which a person embodies and relates to different languages practices during the course of their life. A language (auto)biography may even contain languages, or language practices, that individuals do not speak, but have an affective relationship with, for example heritage languages that play a role in their personal and social identities. In contrast, a language profile is understood here as a description of the language practices and ideologies of a group of people. It is an observation of what people do, or what the say they do and think about languages at a collective level. In creating a linguistic profile of the cohort of student teachers studied for this research project, the aim is not to compare the language biographies of each person or to produce a collective biography, but rather to bring the reported data together to see what sorts of language practices and beliefs can be considered normative. In all likelihood the language biographies of each individual will be, to a greater or lesser extent, different from the cohort. Nevertheless, the similarities can tell us a lot about social and linguistic norms in the group. 1.2.3 The difference between multilingualism and plurilingualism Terminology surrounding questions of language diversity is notoriously difficult. Many different terms have been coined in sub-disciplines that relate to similar phenomena, and different traditions exist in different languages (Le Nevez et al 2010). Multilingualism, as the term is used in this report, refers to the presence of multiple language norms or standards in a particular physical or conceptual space for example in a school or a language policy. It implies a top-down definition of languages as separate linguistic codes that can 11

clearly be defined and differentiated. Plurilingualism, in contrast, refers to the co-presence of diverse and different language practices, both formal and informal, standard and non-standard, either within an individuals repertoire or within a language community. In this way, talking about multilingualism in a school, for example, refers to the ways in which language-in-education policies teach and legitimize a number of standard languages. Plurilingualism in a school refers to the ways in which people in the school interact with their diverse and different language repertoires at a communicative and symbolic level. One of the greatest challenges facing teachers is to find effective ways to teach the multilingual objectives of a school to a class which is invariably plurilingual in other words to help pupils acquire the academic linguistic norms necessary to succeed whilst developing pathways to learning in a diverse linguistic environment.


Chapter 2. Development of the project

The research project this document reports on came about, albeit indirectly, as the consequence of a conscious decision at the University of Luxembourg to develop a research priority around issues of language, diversity and integration. While there were many reasons for an orientation towards this research priority, generally it can be said that, at a national as well as an institutional level, there has been an increase of awareness in recent years of the complexity of providing high quality and equitable multilingual education in Luxembourg. This includes an awareness of the relatively modest performance of Luxembourg students in the international OECD PISA surveys, a concern that the high demands placed on students in the multilingual educational system might have an adverse effect on the integration of children from migrant communities into Luxembourgish society, and an increasingly sustained critique that luxembourgish trilingual education is functioning more and more as a mechanism of exclusion (Weber and Horner 2010:249) through gate-keeping mechanisms that generate injustice and incoherence (Council of Europe 2005:21) . As a result of the development of a university research priority, research funding at the University of Luxembourg allowed for the employment of a post-doctoral researcher and doctoral student on the LACETS2 project (see page 4). Within the LACET2 project a number of research foci were identified, this specific research project being one of them.

2.1 Rationale for the research

While a number of scholarly articles have been written about education in Luxembourg, these have mainly been from a policy perspective (Berg and Weis 2005; Weber 2008; Horner 2009; Weber and Horner 2010), as part of a more general overview of migration and demographic change (Fehlen 2009) or in terms of multilingual education systems (Ehrhart and Fehlen 2010). When this research project was planned, little research had been published specifically on the language practices, backgrounds and ideologies of teachers or student teachers and how this may influence teaching and learning. Likewise, while there was a great deal of anecdotal information relating to the language biographies and practices of student teachers, no reliable data existed that could confirm commonly held beliefs and assumptions about 13

student teachers in Luxembourg, including the question of how linguistically diverse the student teacher cohort is, which languages make up this multilingualism, how student teachers feel about the language they speak, how they feel about issues of language diversity and plurilingualism in the classroom etc. The research project was designed to bring some clarity to these issues to better understand how issues surrounding multilingual education are perceived by student teachers and how they are likely to apply the knowledge they have in the classroom. In addition, the project aims to contribute to the resources available to student teachers and their professors who are increasingly being asked to address these issues with little support and relatively few analytical tools. As a part of an action research methodology, the research also aims to develop a discussion and a debate about the issues that are raised in an analysis of the data. This has been done, and continues to be done, through interventions in classes on multilingual learning and the development of a series of posters presenting and analyzing some of the data that is presented in this report. The point is not to discover the truth or communicate best teaching practice, but rather to open a dialogue and a critical space for talking about teaching and learning in linguistically diverse classrooms.

2.2 Background and previous studies

As discussed above no quantitative research data about the language biographies and practices of student teachers in Luxembourg existed when this research project was developed. However, at a national level, a large research project published in 2009 (Fehlen 2009) provided comprehensive data into the language practices of Luxembourgers. In order to permit a comparative study, a number of questions in this research project were based on questions in this report. A number of research and advocacy organisations have also published on related issues, including the Association de Soutien aux Travailleurs Immigrs (ASTI) 3 . For a general description of language learning in the Luxembourgish school system see Ehrhart and Fehlen (2010). Internationally some work has been done on language ideologies and epistemologies of teachers and student teachers, including work with language biographies in teacher education (Perregaux 2002) and research looking at student teacher perceptions of diversity in the classroom in Alsace (Le Nevez 2010). Other writers including Hlot (2003; 2008), Talib (2006), Hlot and de Mejia (2008), Cenoz (2009) and Ehrhart et al. (2010) have also published widely on issues of plurilingualism, education and equity in


European contexts. Although these research projects help inform the Luxembourgish context, due to its specificity a trilingual curriculum and the presence of many other languages both officially and unofficially within the school there is a clear need to further develop research in this context.

2.3 Research context: the FOPED teacher education programme

The administration of teacher education in Luxembourg is lies primarily with the Ministry of Education in conjunction with the University of Luxembourg. At post-primary level, students are required to have the equivalent of a a four year degree in their area of specialization4 and are admitted following two exams a language exam where they are required to have an adequate knowledge of the three administrative languages (Luxembourgish, German and French)5 and an examination in their area of specialization. What adequate means here in relation to language competency is a moot point. In practice, the exam consists of a 15-minute oral examination in Luxembourgish as well as oral and written exams in French and German. For the written exam, candidates are required to respond in French to a Germanlanguage text and in German to a French-language text. In effect this privileges candidates who have balanced literacy skills in the two languages since both exams require academic literacy in both French and German. This exam is also standard for all candidates: those who want to teach French, for example, still have to pass the exams in German and Luxembourgish, even though they may not be called on to use all of these languages regularly in a professional context. Following the language exam, successful candidates sit a competitive exam in their specific subject field and those who are successful are inducted into a 2-year stage pdagogique. This training programme combines academic study at the university with classroom-based practice and students in this programme are paid by the state. At then end of the programme, student teachers undertake another series of theoretical and practical exams and on successful completion they become fully qualified teachers. The FOPED stage pdagogique in 2011 is comprised of a series of modules focusing on disciplinary teaching methodology and trans-disciplinary professional practice as well as a professional mmoire and classroom teaching practice and support. The trans-disciplinary module is divided into a

In the near future students will need a masters degree in line with the Bologne accord. 5 _prof_postprimaire/index.html, accesed 9/9/11.


number of sub-modules including classroom management, evaluation, professional identity and plurilingualism, cultures et langues lcole [multilingualism, cultures and languages in school]. This subject, the main area where questions of language diversity and education are addressed, counts for 15 credits out of a total of 270 for the two disciplinary and transdisciplinary modules. This subject, while compulsory, therefore represents a relatively small part of the overall programme. The structure of the FOPED course in 2010, when this research was undertaken, was organized somewhat differently, but education in multilingualism and language diversity issues had a similar profile. The participants in this research project were part-way through their FOPED training. As such they received a salary from the state and had spent some time teaching in front of pupils at various classical and/or technical high schools. They were, therefore in the process of acquiring experience, pedagogical knowledge and professional competency.

2.4 Research focus and questions

This research project aims to develop a language profile of the student teacher cohort in Luxembourg that was studied. To what extent is the cohort multilingual? How do participants feel about this multilingualism? How likely are they to find themselves teaching to linguistically diverse classes? How, epistemologically and ideologically, do they represent language diversity in educational contexts? How conscious are participants of these challenges and how well equipped do participants feel to deal with them? It is interested, therefore, in the experiences, practices and language ideologies (Blommaert 1999) that inform the language biography of each student teacher and the ways in which these biographies intersect at a collective level. In analyzing the data on the language biographies of student teachers, the project also aims to understand the evolution of language practice of individuals from early childhood to adulthood. What languages were spoken as children and how did their multilingual competencies emerge? To what extent are non-national languages present? How do participants feel about the languages they speak and which ones are most important in their personal and professional lives? Having explored the linguistic profile of the participants, the project also compares these data with national figures with the aim of exploring the extent to which it reflects national language data and the extent to which it reflects language-in-education policy objectives. In other words, the extent to which the groups language practices are typical of those of the general population 16

and the extent to which they represent the notion of an ideal practice from a normative policy perspective. In addition, the research questionnaire seeks to identify opinions and attitudes towards four key themes relating to language diversity in the classroom. These are: multilingualism and learning; classroom language policy; professional identity and practice; and learning challenges related to language diversity.

2.5 Research methodologies and data collection

The research was conducted through the administration of a questionnaire consisting of a number of short-answer questions relating to the language biographies of participants and 20 likert-scale questions on the themes of equity, multilingualism and identity (see appendix). Some non-identifying demographic data was also collected, including gender and age groups. A questionnaire was chosen because of a desire to collect quantitative data that could be codified for analysis but also because in the pilot project it was realized that few student teachers were willing to participate in quantitative research methods such as semi-directed questionnaires or focus groups. Initially it was hoped that research could be triangulated with quantative data but the small number of volunteers made this impractical. There was no budget in the project to pay volunteers and so it was not possible to motivate people in this way either. The questionnaire was administered simultaneously, in French, to an entire cohort of FOPED student teachers at the beginning of a lecture in December 2010. This cohort was approximately two thirds of the way through their teacher education programme. Participation was voluntary and the questionnaires were anonymous. Out of a total of approximately 175 students enrolled in that particular cohort of the FOPED programme, and accounting for an unknown number of absent students on the day the data was collected, 134 valid questionnaires were returned.


Chapter 3. The language biographies and language profile of student teachers

This chapter of the report presents and analyses data collected on the language backgrounds, practices and preferences of 134 secondary student teachers in Luxembourg. While the data confirms the presence of the national languages, a number of other areas of interest are addressed, including other languages that are present in the students language biographies; the evolution of their language biographies from childhood to adulthood; and the language choices that participants make. For people with highly developed multilingual competencies, the language choice can reveal a lot about the symbolic and affective role language practices play in articulating personal and collective identities.

3.1 The cohort

54% of research participants were female while around two thirds were aged between 20 and 30 with a little over a quarter aged between 30 and 40 (see figures 1 and 2). The large number of younger people is significant because this group, born after 1980, was not yet of school age when Luxembourgish became a national language in 1984. Although no major educational reforms occurred in Luxembourg until 2010, this group nevertheless was a part of a generation that saw a significant change in the status and practice of Luxembourgish. Officially absent from school and perceived, often pejoratively, as a dialect until the 1980s, this was the first generation who grew up witnessing a movement towards codification and officialization of Luxembourgish.

Figure 1: Gender Figure 2: Age Groups


3.2 Subjects taught

The number of participants was relatively evenly spread across different subjects, with the largest representations from languages and the sciences. Participants came from both the classical and technical high school streams (sometimes teaching in both sectors). These streams are significant due to the large number of students from migrant backgrounds in Luxembourg who follow a technical stream (a vocational stream considered by many to be less prestigious and offering fewer opportunities for pupils to study in higher education).
50 12 16 2 5 7 9 9 Languages Science Social Sciences Art & PE 1 4 6 7 9 7 8 4 4 Technical 10 0 40 30 20



{ S.Science{
Science Art & PE Technical

German: 19 Maths: 9 Physics: 5 Geography: 9 Ethics: 4 Physical Education: 8 Electro technique: 4 Metalwork: 1

French: 16 Biology: 9 Science: 2 History: 7 Finance & accounting: 1 Art: 7 Mechanics: 4 Civil Engineering: 1

English: 12 Chemistry: 7 Economics & social sciences: 6 IT: 3

Figure 3: Number of student teachers per subject

3.3 Early childhood practices

Participants were asked to list the languages they spoke at the age of four. This age was chosen because it represents an age before compulsory education begins and therefore reflects language(s) primarily learned in the family. Clearly it is not possible to know what participants actually did as children several decades ago. Rather the data show what participants reported they did. Clearly too, the age of four represents a period when language acquisition is actively happening and this process, potentially undertaken in plurilingual environments, is complex. Although 20

methodologically it would have been interesting to explore the development of childhood plurilingualism, this would be better suited to a qualitative methodology focused on language biographies. Although this quantitative research lacks the ability to deal fully with this complexity, it nonetheless helps to create a picture of the perceived language backgrounds of participants. As the graph shows (figure 4), a large majority, 68% of valid responses, cited Luxembourgish as a language spoken at age four, making it by far the most commonly cited language. Second was German cited by 21% and third was French cited by 12%. Significantly absent are the languages of immigrant groups including Portuguese and Italian (4% and 2% respectively). In total 11 different languages were cited, including Eifler Platt, a language similar to Luxembourgish, spoken across the border.



25 Lux.






0 Other

Figure 4: Languages reported spoken at age four (percentages) other: English, Czech, Crole, Spanish, Eier Platt Total number of responses: 196

The total number of languages cited was 196, making a mean total of just under 1.5 languages per speaker. Looking at the number of languages cited by each person, 61.7% cited one language, 30.8% cited two languages and 7.5% cited three or more languages (see figure 5). If these figures are broken down further, 88% of people citing one language in other words those who declared themselves effectively monolingual at age four cited Luxembourgish with 2% citing German, 5% French and 5% non-national languages. Of the bilinguals, Luxembourgish and German was the most common combination (see figure 6).


7.5!% one language two languages 3+ languages 61.7!%


Figure 5: Number of languages cited as being spoken age 4

100 75 50 25 Monolinguals 0 3+ langs


Monolinguals Bilinguals Multilinguals

Lux L+G L+G+F



Other L + Other Other 3+

Figure 6: Breakdown of languages spoken at age 4 and combinations (G = German, L = Luxembourgish, F = French, P = Portuguese)

Analyzing this data, it is clear that although many people reported speaking more than one language at age four, very few participants grew up speaking all of the national languages. Indeed, Luxembourgish was by far the most common language cited and was most commonly cited alone: 71 out of 133 (53% of the cohort) declared themselves to only speak Luxembourgish at age four. Indeed, only 15 participants (11%) did not report speaking any Luxembourgish. This data suggest that, for this cohort at least, bilingualism was not particularly frequent and the norm was to speak Luxembourgish. Where more than one language was spoken, the second language was most often German. Given that many childrens TV shows and cartoons are in German, it is 22

possible that this was reported as a source of language acquisition for some participants in addition to, or as an alternative to, family language practices. The reported language practices of the cohort at age four therefore do not reflect the official trilingualism of the state but are rather the consequences of family language policies, with Luxembourgish playing a central role for most. Broad multilingualism in the cohort is not therefore something that begins in the cradle, but emerges later through socialization and education.

3.4 Adult spoken practices

Participants were asked to list the languages they currently speak in the order of competency. The questionnaire asked them to write the language they speak the best in a box, their second best language in a second box etc (a total of 8 boxes were provided). Figure 7 shows the frequency of language citings while figure 8 shows these data in the order the languages were cited. Although the data does not measure competency, the data clearly shows a highly multilingual cohort who almost universally speak four languages: Luxembourgish, German, French and English.

Figure 7: Percentage of participants who report speaking a language (by language)

Three elements of this data are particularly striking. Firstly, the almost universal practice of English, although it is not a national language; secondly, the relative absence of migrant languages; and thirdly the relatively modest number of different languages cited (19 in total including Brazilian which is usually considered to be a variety of Portuguese and Latin which is likely to be understood but not actively spoken). 23

Figure 8: Adult spoken language practice in order of reported competency (totals)

The presence of English can be explained in part by the educational background of the participants who are required to study it at school as well as the prestige English enjoys as an international lingua franca. Nevertheless it is still somewhat surprising to see it being cited by 99% of participants. Although it is possible that English is not spoken at the same level of competency as German, French and Luxembourgish, it can nevertheless be considered to be a fully legitimate part of the language profile of the cohort. The language profile of this group is therefore not fundamentally or normatively trilingual in the national languages, it is quadrilingual. The relative absence of migrant languages, and in particular Portuguese, indicates to the contrary that these languages do not form part of the language profile of the group. Despite 16% of the population of Luxembourg being of Portuguese origin (Ehrhart and Fehlen 2010), few Portuguese speakers have become student teachers, at least in this cohort. The percentage of Portuguese speakers at age four and in adulthood was stagnant at 4% (although these may not all be the same speakers), suggesting that few participants who did not grow up speaking Portuguese learned it later in life. Italian and Spanish, two other languages spoken by a reasonable number of people, might be considered to be migrant languages because of historical communities (particularly in the case of Italian), however the low frequency of these languages being cited as being spoken at age four and the fact that both languages can be learned as part of the school curriculum suggests that it is more likely that these languages have been learned as modern foreign languages in school. The hypothesis of a normative language profile of the cohort is further supported by an analysis of the order in which these languages are cited (figure 8). The most frequent language cited as the first or best spoken 24

language is Luxembourgish. The most frequent second language is German, the most frequent third language is French and fourth is English. This sequence reflects the introduction of languages in school with Luxembourgish being spoken in childhood and early education, German being introduced as the first language of basic literacy, French next and then English in school. Although many individual participants did not report following this pattern, clearly at a collective level language competency reflects to a great degree an institutional learning of language through formal education. This language competency is no doubt supported through socialization and the regular practice of these languages in society. Looking more closely at language diversity within the cohort, figure 9 shows a breakdown of the order in which participants cited the languages they speak. 37% of speakers cited the big four languages of Luxembourgish, French, German and English (in various orders) and did not cite any other languages. 49% of participants cited one or more languages, in addition to and following the big 4. In other words, Luxembourgish, German, French and English were cited in the first 4 places of their questionnaire (in any order) and in the fifth place another language was cited. In comparison, only 14% of participants cited another language before Luxembourgish, French, German or English. So while most people spoke more than the four core languages, for most of these people this was in addition to these languages. Only one in seven participants transgressed the spoken norm of LFGE(+other).

Figure 9: Linguistic diversity of participants

The fact that 63% of participants spoke more than the three national languages, plus English, underscores the language skills of participants. For the most part, however, these other languages are language that could be learned at school (including Luxembourgish). This is not to say that they necessarily did learn it at school, but that it would have been possible for them to have learned it there. As can be seen in figure 10, only 20% of participants reported speaking a language that is not generally taught at school. In other words, they had most likely learned a language outside of the 25

Luxembourg education system either because they spoke the language at home or because they had learned it in later life for personal or professional reasons6.

20!% School Language + non-school language


school languages: Luxembourgish, German, French, English, Spanish, Italian, Latin

Figure 10: Percentage of participants who speak a language not generally learned in school

These data therefore describe a cohort which is highly multilingual, but whose multilingualism is narrowly defined. In other words, while participants all spoke a lot of languages, for the most part they spoke the same languages, and in particular usually ranked the big four languages ahead of other languages in terms of speaking competency. In terms of language diversity, despite the impressive level of multilingual competency of each participant, as a group the cohort is not particularly linguistically diverse. To put this differently, while the language diversity of the group may be relatively deep, it is not broad it does not cover a large variety of different languages. The language profile of the cohort of student teachers who participated in this research can therefore be said to tightly reflect an ideal language practice as promoted through language-in-education policies. This is in many ways a highly successful policy, producing highly multilingual individuals who speak the national languages and the international lingua franca English. These are the success stories of Luxembourgs education system they have acquired what society has defined as the ideal language biography. As discussed, however, migrant and other non-national language practices are to a large degree conspicuously absent from their profile. 6Heritage languages, including Portuguese, are taught in some schools but their 26

frequency and status are quite marginal. See Berg and Weis (2005) and COE (2005).

Collectively the data presented in figures 7 to 10 suggest a cohort whose language practices are profoundly influenced by school and institutionalized learning. Although there are many exceptions, clearly the main vector of multilingualism for the participants is the school. In many ways this is unsurprising since they have been selected to become teachers in part because of their trilingual skills. What this does show, however, is the powerful effect language-in-education policies have had in producing a cohort of student teachers whose language profile closely resembles the national ideal.

3.5 Literacy practices

In addition to the question asking participants about their spoken language competency, participants were asked to rank, in the same way, their written language competency (figures 11 and 12). Figure 11 shows the literacy rate per language. Compared with figure 7 (measuring language speaking), a number of points can be remarked. Firstly, there is a slight reduction in the number of people citing a competency in writing Luxembourgish. On the one hand it is surprising that this figure of 92% is as high as it is: traditionally Luxembourgish has been practiced as a vernacular language and a written standard has only begun to be promoted in recent years. On the other hand, however, being student teachers, the participants are unlikely to admit to lacking competency in one of the national languages. Moreover, because two thirds of the cohort are aged under thirty, they have grown up and been educated in a society in which the use of Luxembourgish, including in written form has been promoted.

Figure 11: Writing competency per language (percentages)


150 120 90 60 30 1st lang 2nd lang 3rd lang

Luxembourgish Italian German Dutch

4th lang
French Spanish

0 5th lang 6+ lang

English Portuguese Other

Figure 12: Writing practices in order of reported competency (totals)

Secondly, apart from this reduction, the other statistics broadly reflect oral practice with near universal practice of German, French and English, the lesser presence of Spanish and Italian, and relatively few migrant and nonschool languages. Indeed, the total number of languages cited was 16 (including Flemish which is typically considered to be the same written language as Dutch). When the data are ranked in terms of competency, however, a very different picture emerges. Luxembourgish, which was overwhelmingly present as the language of highest oral competency emerges much later in written competency, with around half of participants citing it as their fourth best written language. The top spots for written competency are dominated by German and French, with English also increasing its representation later on. As with spoken competency, foreign languages and migrant languages are mostly cited following the big four. This written language profile generally follows, to an even greater degree than the spoken profile, the introduction of literacy in different languages at school: first German, then French, then English, then other foreign languages. A scholastic acquisition of languages is to be expected, since schools are almost by definition the privileged sites for the teaching of standard written languages (as opposed to vernaculars). Nevertheless, the data again show a relative absence of heterogeneity in the cohort. A third question relating to the language practices of the cohort explored their reported levels of comprehension of different languages (figure 13). These data reveal a similar picture to the data for spoken competency suggesting that participants see speaking and comprehension as a similar or linked 28

practice, while writing represents a different language act, in particular where Luxembourgish is concerned.
150 120 90 60 30 1st lang 2nd lang 3rd lang 4th lang 0 6+ lang

5th lang

Lux Italian

German Dutch

French Spanish

Portuguese Other


Figure 13: Language comprehension in order of competency

One further point of interest is to look at the top two rankings and to compare the frequencies with which French, German and Luxembourgish are cited as best or second-best languages in speaking, writing and comprehension. 33% of the cohort cited French as either their best or second-best spoken language while 29% cited it in the top two in terms of comprehension. However 72% cited French as either their best or second best written language. French therefore plays a particularly important role for many participants as a written language, more so than it does as a spoken language. This does not necessarily mean that participants were less competent in speaking French than they were in writing the language, but rather, that more participants cited other languages ahead of French in terms of speaking and understanding (particularly Luxembourgish) their ability to speak and understand French may have been excellent, but their ability to understand and speak Luxembourgish was better. The equivalent statistics for German are 57% in the top two for speaking, 64% for understanding and 80% for writing. While slightly more people cited German than French in the top two for writing, the difference between speaking/understanding and writing was less great, demonstrating that German is strongly present for many people across competencies. For Luxembourgish these percentages were 92%, 90% and 16% respectively. While Luxembourgish is ranked first or second in speaking and understanding by an overwhelming majority of participants, only a relatively small minority cite it as amongst their two best written languages. 29

3.6 Language choices and preferences

In order to understand the language preferences of the cohort more fully, and to try to build a picture of the motivations for using languages that participants had, a series of questions were also asked about which languages they preferred speaking and writing and which languages they considered to be most important in their personal and professional lives. Participants were also asked to comment on why they made these choices. 3.6.1 Preferences in speaking Figure 14 shows the frequency of responses to the question which language(s) do you prefer speaking and why? The data clearly shows a strong preference in the cohort for Luxembourgish, which is cited three times more often than the next highest language French. Given the linguistic proximity with Luxembourgish, it might have been expected that German would have been preferred by more than 22%. Conversely, a score of 18% for English is notable as the fourth most preferred language and the only nonnational language to elicit a significant response. The data is also interesting for the relative absence of languages other than the big four and for the relatively restrained language total, with only 12 languages being cited.

100 80 60 40 20 Lux G F E Sp I 0 Dut P Other

Luxembourgish Italian

German Dutch

French Spanish

Portuguese Other


Figure 14: Speaking preferences (percentages) total number of participants: 131 total number of languages: 12

Although participants were not limited to citing one language, the total number of citations was also relatively limited with a total of 194 responses given by the 131 participants who filled in this question a mean of 1.48 languages per person. To put this into perspective, the mean number of languages spoken and written per person is 4.81 and 4.61 respectively. However, the mean number of languages reported spoken at age 4 is very similar at 1.47. This suggests that while people can speak many languages, 30

other: Dutch, Swedish, Crole, Flemish, Chinese, Eier Platt

they are more particular about their preferences. In this case at least, competency is a poor indicator of preference. The question of the relationship between early childhood competency, adult competency and preference will be taken up in section 3.7. 3.6.2 Preferences in writing In contrast to speaking, preferences in writing more closely followed adult writing competency. The most preferred languages for writing were German, followed by French and English (figure 15). Although Luxemburgish was the fourth most preferred language, it was only cited by 14% of participants, suggesting that it is far more preferred as a spoken rather than a written language. The mean number of languages cited per speaker was 1.33, with only 22% of participants indicating a preference for more than one written language.

Figure 15: Writing preferences (percentages)

This relative lack of preference for a range of languages is also reflected in the total number of discreet languages being cited. In total only seven different languages were cited, indicating that participants preferences are very much focused on the standard languages that are learned in school. While this is not surprising, it does reinforce the importance of formal education on the development of participants language practices as well as the difference between spoken and written practices and perceptions. When the data from each individual is considered, most participants preferred to write in either German or French (31.5% and 32.3% of responses respectively). Only 4.6% cited a preference for both French and German (figure 16). Looking at the responses from those who cited two languages, more people preferred the combination of German and English than the combination German and French. 31

These data suggest that in writing, participants tend to fall into one of two groups: one centred on French and the other on German. While they may have equivalent literacy levels in both languages 7 , their preferences are generally not multilingual. In terms of national policy objectives, therefore, these data show that for the student teacher cohort at least, there is a discrepancy between written competency and preference. If language preference is an indicator of actual practice, which seems likely, then it is highly possible that student teachers do not use their written language skills in a balanced way. If this is the case then this means is that even if student teachers do have equitable levels of academic literacy in different languages, when given the choice most show a preference for using one language or another. This brings into question the assumption that school students need balanced multilingual literacy skills, even if this remains an ideal educational outcome. Rather, it supports an argument in favour of the development of academic literacy skills that that focuses on the ability to use, interpret, manage and produce texts in at least one of the national languages. This does not necessarily imply a de facto monolingual approach to academic literacy but rather a plurilingual practice since the development of academic literacy would be informed by language use and practice across a range of languages and text types.
50 40 30 20 10
Lux G F E G+F G+E


L+F L+E F+E 3+ Other

Luxembourgish G+L

German L+F

French L+E


English 3+ Langs

G+E Other

Figure 16: Individual writing preferences

We can suppose this but the data cannot confirm it


3.6.3 Perceptions of importance of language in personal life In response to the question which language(s) are most important in your personal life, the responses were generally similar to those for speaking preferences: in other words, a strong preference for Luxembourgish, followed by French with German and English the only two other languages receiving a double-digit score (figure 17). The implication of this is this is that it is likely that there is a link between a languages perceived importance and a preference for that language. People like the languages that are important in their lives and peoples centres of interest gravitate around their language communities. In comparing the language preferences and perceptions of importance of individual participants, 42 out of 124 valid responses (33%) did not change. In other words, the participants listed the same languages in terms of preference and perceived importance in their personal lives. 25 out of these 42 participants cited Luxembourgish as their sole preferred language and their most important personal language. Seven cited Luxembourgish and German, two each for Luxembourgish + French and Luxembourgish + English, with two citing French alone and four citing three or more languages. These data underscore the importance of Luxembourgish as a social language and as a language of choice. They also indicate that for 20% of the cohort Luxembourgish is in effect the sole language of major significance in their personal and social lives, at least in terms of oral communication. This subset of participants is also significant because their languages of preference match the languages that are most important in their personal lives. For the 82 others who gave different answers there is a potential tension between the languages they prefer and the languages they perceive as being socially important.

Figure 17: Importance of language in personal life (totals)


For those participants who gave different answers for their languages of preference and personal importance, 45% indicated there were languages that were important in their personal lives that they did not express a preference for speaking. Conversely, 11% indicated a preference for speaking a language that they did not cite as a language of personal importance. 5% gave responses that were totally different, while 4% gave responses that reflected a partial or complex change (for example expressing a preference for speaking Luxembourgish and French and citing French and German as the most important languages in their personal lives). These data suggest that there is a similarity between preference and social importance for the cohort. While most participants practice some languages in their personal lives that are not personal preferences, the inverse is also true: all but 5% of the cohort practices at least one language in their personal lives that they have a preference for. This is possible because of the multilingual nature of the society and the language skills of the participants. Participants have the opportunity to use a variety of languages socially and to choose social situations which match their preferences. In social situations at least, they have the opportunity to orient themselves towards particular language communities and social networks that reflect, and help reinforce, their personal language preferences. To the same extent, their multilingual skills are pragmatically useful for communicating in social contexts even if they have no preference for a particular language or do not feel affectively attached to it. A further advantage for the group is the fact that both their language preferences and perceptions of social utility match the broad language policies of the state. If the set of languages they spoke were different, for example, if Portuguese and Spanish were their preferred languages instead of Luxembourgish and German, then their situation would be quite different. Either they would be obliged to use languages socially that they didnt prefer speaking, or their social network would be limited to only those people who shared their language preferences. This, in effect is the forced language choice that many migrants must make: a choice between communicating socially in non-preferred languages or limiting their social contact to a community that shares their language preferences and/or skills. 3.6.4 Perceptions of importance of language in professional life Responses to the question as to which languages were most important in the professional life of participants reflect to a large degree language policy and practice in Luxembourg schools. French, the language of instruction for most classes in high school is the most frequent response, with German and Luxembourgish, the lingua franca of both pupils and teachers eliciting 73 and 44 responses respectively (figure 18). These data again confirm a cohort which find a limited range of languages useful and underscoring the fact that, 34

with the exception of English, only official languages are of importance to participants in educational settings.

Figure 18: Language importance in professional life (totals)

3.7 Reasons given for responses to language preferences and social utility
As well as asking which languages participants preferred to speak and write and which languages they found most important in their personal and professional lives, participants were also asked to give reasons for their answers. When participants made comments following the questions these comments were recorded directly as written. Most were short phrases, some people gave more than one reason per language, some more than one language per reason. The comments were analyzed and a series of thematic typologies were developed to reflect similarities in the discourses engaged. In total, nine typologies were identified. The first of these is mother tongue. Here participants directly referred to the term, for example: Luxembourgeois! C'est ma langue maternelle!; Lux langue natale; or Luxembourgeois Mammesproch. While the term mother tongue is considered problematic by many sociolinguists (Le Nevez 2006), the term was clearly used by a large number of participants. It can be understood here as meaning the first language of acquisition or the language of early childhood and stands in contrast to languages learned in later life, particularly in formal educational contexts. The second typology is personal identity and expression. This relates to responses that described personal feelings or an affective relationship with a 35

language. Participants wrote about a language in terms of self perception or an internalised act, for example: Anglais, Spanish, Luxembourgeois because I can identify with these 3 languages; Crole elle me permet d'exprimer mes motions et de les mettre en images (mtaphores) ; and Franais : C'est la langue de mon choix (sentimental). The third typology is communication with others. This includes speaking with friends, family or a partner, using language in daily life and as a communicative act. For example: lux - langue de communication avec ma famille; allemand - langue parle avec copains; allemand - langue de ma famille; luxembourgeois - langue de mon quotidien; franais - langue de mes amis; and Lux - la langue que tout mon entourage parle. The fourth typology is habit and/or ease of use. This is a question of frequency, routine or ease of expression. For example: Lux et All - Je suis plus l'aise; English = easier than Luxembourgish and allemand l'habitude depuis l'cole primaire. The fifth typology is language competency and structure. This includes explicit mention of language forms and structures, knowledge of the grammar and lexicon, reference to language as a code or the normative correct practice of a language. For example: franais - plus de precision; Anglais Because I know the structure better than any other language and Franais moins de fautes. The sixth typology is career and education. Although these two fields could be considered to be quite different, for student teachers they are linked in the sense of describing language in an institutionalized educational setting and make explicit reference to work or studies. Examples include: Fr. J'ai travaill et tudi dans un pays francophone; Franais - J'enseigne le Franais...; and Anglais, parce que je l'enseigne et je l'ai tudi. Seventh is territoriality. This includes reference to nationalism, language policy or a physical location. For example: Lux, D: an der deutschen Grenze aufgewachsen [I grew up at the border of Germany]; Luxembourgeois langue nationale; and Luxembg: langue du pays dans lequel je suis n. The eighth typology is intellectual and/or cultural interest. This is when participants expressed a curiosity about the language or its link to cultural expression. For example: fr - langue intressante; Sri lankais: belle criture; anglais - culture, livres (litrature); and Sudois - for the sound. Finally, the ninth typology is utility. This does not refer to communication with specific people but rather to the functional usefulness of a language in an abstract sense. For example: E (most important lang.); GB - j'aime voyager; and English = world lang. + scientific lang. 36

3.7.1 Spoken language preferences: reasons given The reasons given for spoken language preference, coded into the nine typologies are presented in figure 19. Mother tongue is by far the most frequent response with personal identity and expression coming second with half the number of responses. Habit and ease of use was third with 20 responses. Mother tongue as well as personal identity and expression both describe an interior and affective relationship with a language, rather than a relationship with an external entity or an abstract concept. It can be argued that habit and ease of use also represents an internal relationship with a language preferring a language because it is easy or one is used to it suggests a familiarity and proximity. In contrast, relatively few responses invoked the ability for a language to act as a vehicle of communication as a reason for preferring it. Likewise few people cited intellectual, political and metalinguist reasons for preferring a language.



Mother tongue Habit and ease of use Communication with others Intellectual and cultural interest Utility

Personal identity and expression Language competency and structure Career and education Territoriality

Figure 19: Spoken language preferences - reasons given (totals)

These data indicate the important ways in which spoken language preferences are influenced by affective or personal motivations. Participants for the most part didnt like speaking languages because they were the national languages or because they studied or taught them. Participants preferred languages which they felt close to because it was the language they grew up with, because they identified with it or because it allowed them to best express themselves the way they wanted.


In order to explore these data in a little more detail, the responses were crosstabulated with the languages cited (table 1). Here the role of intimate and affective motivations becomes clear. For all of the languages cited, mother tongue and personal identity received the highest or equal highest number of citations (with the exception of English and Italian for mother tongue). The data also show the special role that Luxembourgish holds for the cohort. Although virtually all participants spoke the big four languages, Luxembourgish was preferred around three times more often than French and around four times more often than German and English. This can to a large extent be explained by the fact that, as the data in section 3.1 showed, Luxembourgish was by far the most common language spoken at the age of four in the cohort. Nevertheless, these data refer to current rather than historical preferences. The preference for speaking a language for many participants therefore seems to be linked not to current competency but to language practice in early childhood.
Table 1: Spoken language preferences - reasons given per language

3.7.2 Written language preferences: reasons given In stark contrast to speaking preferences, the reasons for preferring writing very much centre around accuracy and the ability to reproduce a grammatical norm (figure 20). The two most common reasons are language competency and structure with 42 responses and habit or ease of use with 35. In effect, these reasons centre around the notion of being able to use the language accurately, correctly and normatively. There is not the same affective 38

relationship with written language practices as there is with oral practices for most people what is important is reproducing the code, rather than the feeling of closeness that one has when writing a particular language. For some, written language preferences are also motivated by academic and professional interests. This too is linked to the development of a normative or scholastic competency in a language rather than an affective relationship. It appears therefore that people prefer to speak and write languages for very different reasons. Indeed, the epistemology of language that is being invoked is itself quite different: on the one hand as a vector of personal identity and early childhood practices, and on the other as a code to be mastered. The first can be described as a social practice view of language how languages articulate relationships and social identities. The second can be described, following Pennycook (2007) and Le Nevez (2008) as foundationalist the reproduction of a code which can be learned academically and should, ideally, be practiced normatively.



Mother tongue Habit and ease of use Communication with others Intellectual and cultural interest Utility

Personal identity and expression Language competency and structure Career and education Territoriality

Figure 20: Written language preferences - reasons given

The difference between these two language epistemologies is significant. Often in debates about teaching modern languages in school, or the integration of migrants into a community through language learning, a foundationalist epistemology is called upon through the teaching of a standard variety, with a focus on learning grammar as well as spoken and written norms. However, if spoken language preferences are primarily motivated by affective and not intellectual reasons, as this data suggests, then it seems unlikely that education alone will be enough for people to develop a preference for speaking a language.


Moreover, if these data can be generalized to the community, then it appears that many people retain a strong affective relationship with particular spoken languages, especially their mother tongue(s). This brings into question the logic informing assimilationist discourses that represent immigrant languages as an illegitimate social practice or as a barrier to social integration. If oral languages, and in particular languages learned in early childhood are as central in the lives of other people as they are in the student teacher cohort (and there is no reason why they shouldnt be), then these language practices will continue to be meaningful and will continue to contribute to the social and personal wellbeing of people. However, if these languages are declared illegitimate, either explicitly or implicitly, through national language policy and other sociopolitical mechanisms, migrants will be faced with an ultimatum: either to forgo the affective relationship with their languages of origin and the forms of personal and social identification that are bound up in these language practices in favour of national languages they have learned in later life, or to refuse to assimilate and by doing so to become marginalized from full social participation. If the link between spoken preferences and affective motivations is as strong in other groups as it is for student teachers, then it would seem doubtful that people would be willing to give up the language practices they feel closest to and it would take a large degree of symbolic violence to force them. These data therefore demonstrate the importance of rethinking the ways in which language diversity and difference is understood in educational contexts, particularly in terms of language acquisition and integration for migrants and the legitimacy their home languages play in articulating personal and social identities. In terms of the language ecology of Luxembourg, to what extent do we see migrant languages as a threat to the stability, the identity and the wellbeing of society and to what extent do they have the potential to enrich the society through the contribution of new forms of knowledge, practice and identification? This is fundamentally an ideological question and depends on how we epistemologically understand diversity in modern societies. If we see societies as fixed and stable entities then external influences risk disrupting or threatening the stability of these entities. However, if we see societies as complex and adaptive systems or networks which are constantly evolving, then newness and difference can have a potentially positive effect by providing innovation, resilience and opportunities for social transformation (Walker and Salt 2006). In any case, the presence of many different language communities in Luxembourg is a social reality that Luxembourgers all have to deal with. The question is not whether these languages should be spoken or whether these language communities should exist. Rather the question is how best can society deal with the challenges posed by this diversity and what policies and strategies will best lead to the desired social outcomes? Given the strong presence of Luxembourgish in the cohort and the important affective role it plays, it seems quite likely that the student teachers who 40

participated in this research have had to come to terms with the differences between spoken and written language practices. Their preference for writing in French and German, rather than Luxembourgish (see table 2), suggests that many prefer writing a different language to the one(s) they prefer speaking. This difference can result in educational problems or schizoglossia (Haughen 1996) but given their academic achievements, it appears as though they have found ways of successfully negotiating these linguistic challenges. The important advantage these people have, however, is that their language practices broadly reflect the national ideal. They are clearly plurilingual and they have clearly developed sophisticated ways of expressing themselves in complex language environments, but they have done so in ways that follow the prestigious social norms. How they use language is not different to how society expects them to use language. Indeed, through the prioritizing of a vernacular use of Luxembourgish in early childhood education and the acquisition of basic literacy in German, language-in-education policies actively encourage and support their vernacular use of one language and their written use of another. With their mastery of socially prestigious vernacular and written forms student teachers find themselves at the top of a complex, and at times opaque hierarchy of linguistic practices and in this way they are privileged. People who use language in similarly plurilingual ways, but whose linguistic repertoires do not reflect the national norms, will find that they do not enjoy the same levels of privilege and prestige. Likewise people who are unable to use these languages appropriately in a variety of contexts and settings will also struggle.
Table 2: Written language preferences - reasons given per language


3.7.3 Language importance in personal life: reasons given In response to the question which language(s) are most important in your personal life by far the most common reasons participants gave related to social communication (figure 21). In order to understand these motivations more clearly, the typology of communication was broken down into three subsets: communication with friends, communication with family and communication with the general public. While communication with friends and family can be conceptually linked because of the existence of a prior, affective relationship between interlocutors, communication in public is somewhat different, implying interactions with strangers or those one does not have an affective bond with. The typology of communication with others was cited 148 times as the main reason why languages were important in the social lives of participants. This represents nearly two thirds of the total number of reasons given. A clearly pragmatic discourse is being engaged here: languages are important for what they do and what they do is to help people communicate. This notion of language as a communicative social act is different to the discourse of language as a code invoked in relation to written preferences and is also different to the discourse of language as a vehicle of identity and affective meaning invoked in response to the question of which languages the participants prefer to speak.



0 8 9 10

1 Mother tongue 3 Habit and ease of use 5a Communication family 6 Communication public 8 Intellectual and cultural interest 10 Utility

2 Personal identity and expression 4 Language competency and structure 5b Communication friends 7 Career and education 9 Territoriality

Figure 21: Language importance in personal life - reasons given

Here then are three different ways of understanding languages and the ways they can be practiced: as a form of personal and social identification, as a communicative strategy and as a fixed code that can (and should) be 42

mastered and reproduced normatively. Somewhat ironically, it is this foundationalist, code-based view that is most frequently reproduced in society, particularly in relation to education and social integration. Integrationist and assimilationist discourses focus on the need for migrants to acquire the national languages and competency in these languages is tested before migrants can gain citizenship as well as access to many well-paid jobs. Yet a foundationalist, code-based view of language is perhaps the least appropriate epistemology for understanding and promoting integration because it equates legitimate language practice with the acquisition and reproduction of a written norm rather than the development of communicative strategies or meaningful social networks. In terms of integration, the creation of interpersonal relationships and communicative strategies across different linguistic and cultural groups is surely more fundamentally important and socially relevant than the ability to reproduce a written code correctly (although, as has been argued this is also an important skill). This suggests that it is important to rethink the epistemology of language that is being used to frame and understand language and education debates. While language norms are a meaningful and necessary part of society, standard languages are ill-adapted as tools for measuring or facilitating social integration because they are exclusive rather than inclusive people are excluded from full participation in a language community until they show that they can reproduce the necessary language norms. If a different language model is used, for example one that focuses on developing communicative strategies and a shared social practice that is plurilingual and inclusive, then participation in a language community is judged by their willingness to communicate and the interpersonal and metalinguistic communicative skills they possess, rather than their ability to use language correctly. In this paradigm competency is not a prerequisite for social participation but emerges as an outcome of successful social integration. 3.7.4 Language importance in professional life: reasons given. Because of the question which languages are most important in your personal life specifically relates to a professional context, the typologies created to describe the different reasons cited in the previous questions were not appropriate and new typologies were developed. The first of these was language taught, where participants cited a language because they taught it as a subject. The second typology was personal communication with colleagues. The third, school language policy, includes the notion of langue administrative and indicates using a language not because of personal choice but because of an official policy or pedagogical guidelines. The fourth typology is facilitating understanding for pupils or parents in other words making a language choice at school based on the needs of those who are not part of the school administration. The fifth typology is understanding and using texts where participants referred specifically to the use or interpretation 43

of written documents. The sixth is language use outside of school or in former professional contexts. The seventh is job / teaching where participants were not specific. The eighth is mother tongue and the ninth typology is personal language policy a choice or decision to use a particular language in a class. These typologies were cross-referenced with the languages cited to provide the data displayed in table 3. These data show that the main reasons why languages are important in professional contexts is because of school language policies. This applies particularly to French and German which are both languages of instruction in high schools in Luxembourg. The importance of Luxembourgish as a language of communication between colleagues is also notable, as it is in communicating with pupils and parents (along with French).
Table 3: Language importance in professional life - reasons given per language

These data show that language practices in schools are mainly decided at an institutional level through the implementation of specific language-ineducation policies, for example which languages should be taught or which are the vehicular languages. Teachers, and in particular student teachers, dont have very much say as to which languages are used in formal school contexts. The main reasons they give for why languages are important imply a passive acceptance of language decisions taken at a higher level. The languages were important because they were institutionalized, not because of a personal decision to use them or an affective relationship with them.


Having said this, however, a number of responses indicated an importance relating to communicating with others, including colleagues as well as pupils and parents. These reasons relate to the pragmatic use of languages to achieve social or communicative outcomes. As such they are quite different from those relating to institutional practices which focus on the reproduction of linguistic norms. Luxembourgish was not cited often in institutional terms and was mainly seen as being important for pragmatic reasons and as a communicative social practice. Comments relating to French were mainly oriented towards an institutional practice of the language, but not entirely it was also cited in pragmatic terms and as a language that student teachers decided themselves to use to achieve particular outcomes. German was not cited as being important for pragmatic or communicative reasons and responses citing German very much focused on the language as a normaitve code or an institutionalized language practice. One explanation for this is that the pragmatic role of German is being fulfilled by Luxembourgish in other words Luxembourgish is in effect serving as a vernacular variety of German, or, to put this the other way, German is serving as a formal written language complement to Luxembourgish, at least in educational contexts. This theory is supported by the fact that no formal development of literacy in Luxembourgish occurs in high school. There does appear to be some evidence that Luxembourgish and German serve as complementary language practices in schools formal functions are covered by German while informal functions are covered by Luxembourgish, rather than both languages being used in similar ways. This analysis implies that in educational contexts formal and informal language practices are occurring concurrently and moreover, are seen as being important for different reasons. If it is possible to see a distinction in these practices through a selective use of German and Luxembourgish, for other languages, including French, these differences are less easy to distinguish because there is a popular perception that vernacular and literacy practices follow the same set of social and linguistic rules and norms. In this way, no meaningful distinction is made between normative, pragmatic, communicative and affective language practices. They are usually subsumed under the general notion of learning and speaking Standard French. However, while grammar, and to a lesser extent communicative skills are widely taught in schools, pragmatic and communicative skills, including interpersonal strategies, speech accommodation, attitudinal resources and linguistic and intercultural awareness (Canagarajah 2007; Canagarajah and Ben Said 2010) are seldom taught, at least not explicitly, in high schools. Language competency is synonymous with the production of a standard language, not with social appropriateness. Yet as the data demonstrate, 45

interpersonal and communicative language practices are seen as being important and play a legitimate role in the personal and professional lives of many participants, not only because they can help contribute to language acquisition but because they are fundamentally necessary in learning to live and adapt in linguistically and culturally diverse environments.

3.8 A comparative and evolving picture of the language profile of Luxembourgs student teachers.
In this section of the report a significant amount of data has been presented regarding the language practices, perceptions and preferences of the cohort of student teachers in Luxembourg who participated in the research project. The data paints two pictures: one of 134 individuals who have each developed their own personal language biography based on their experiences and interests. It goes without saying that each of these people is different and each language biography is a legitimate expression of a linguistic identity formed over a lifetime. The research does not judge these participants because of their particular language biographies: their biographies are legitimate regardless of which languages are, or are not present, or the ways in which people use their language skills in different ways and for different purposes. The second picture is of the language profile of the cohort: what sorts of norms exist, what similarities and differences exist within the cohort, what general trends and tendencies can be identified and what discourses are engaged in talking about language practice? While this picture does not aim to criticize constituent members of the cohort, it does aim to cast a critical gaze over the cohort as a collective entity, in particular the extent to which it is linguistically diverse and oriented towards the promotion of equitable multilingual education. Also, and in particular, it is interested in exploring multilingualism as it is lived by a group of mostly young and well-educated Luxembourgers who are becoming teachers. 3.8.1 The evolution of a language profile. The data in figure 22 show a comparison of four questions around oral language practice: languages spoken at age 4, languages spoken in 2010, perceptions of utility in personal life and spoken language preference. The difference between childhood and adult competency, represented here as the blue and green bars, shows the evolution of competency over time. The jump in competency is most likely due to education, since the competencies are highest in school languages. Competency is no doubt reinforced through socialization since they represent the three national languages plus English.


The data show a group with a highly normative spoken language profile. The four languages of Luxembourgish, German, French and English are shared by the cohort and form the cornerstones of their language profile. Migrant languages were seldom spoken as children and are seldom spoken as adults. Where participants do speak other languages, these are usually languages that can be learned at school. Very few participants report having a personal preference or perceive an importance, for a language other than Luxembourgish, German, French or English.

150 120 90 60 30 Lux. German French English 0 Span. Other




Competency age 4 Importance in personal life

Adult competency Spoken preference

Figure 22: Comparison between competency age 4, adult competency, personal importance and spoken preference

The comparative graph shows the striking effect of language learning, but it also suggests that adult language competency has little influence over perception of importance or social preference, except in the sense that one must already be able to speak a language in order to have a preference for speaking it. However, preference and importance appear to be linked, for the first four languages at least, with preference being cited at a rate of around 2/3 to 3/4 that of perceived importance for each language. This means that the importance of a language in the personal lives of the participants is a good indicator that they have a preference for speaking that language and having a preference for speaking a language is a good indicator that the language is important in their personal lives. Having said this, however, it is important to note that the language profile of the cohort reflects that of the national language policy: these people speak the languages that are socially prestigious and legitimate. Their language choices are therefore not negatively influenced by factors such as social marginalization or pressure to assimilate linguistically. It is not clear whether 47

these data would be the same for a cohort which does not have the same language profile. Because of the highly normative language profile of this cohort of student teachers, it is not possible to explore this question using these data and further research with participants from different language backgrounds is required. Figure 22 also shows that while these four languages are practiced equally, Luxembourgish holds a privileged position being far more frequently cited as a language of personal importance and preference. Luxembourgish was also far and away the most widely spoken language at age four. Given the data showing that preference and perceived importance are influenced by affective and interpersonal motivations, it is likely that there is also a link between early childhood language practice, language preference and perceived importance. If we like speaking languages we feel close to, and we feel close to the languages of our early childhood, then the languages of our early childhood are likely to continue to be important in our personal lives. Again, this hypothesis would need to be tested on a different cohort to be validated, and there may be an effect based on the prestigious status of Luxembourgish in society, but as a hypothesis it is certainly plausible. If the hypothesis holds true then this has particular implications for school teachers working with linguistically heterogeneous classes. Frequently debates about language learning and the languages spoken by migrants focus on the need for acquisition of the host language(s) and the potential for unofficial languages to retard or complicate integration and scholastic achievement. The implication is that the sooner children learn to speak the national languages the better and school is usually the place where this happens. However the data underscores the importance of languages of early childhood in participants personal and social language identities. If children have the same affective links to their home languages that their teachers do, then it seems inequitable to not to take these language practices and allegiances into consideration when teaching. This does not necessarily mean including all home languages in school. On the contrary, rather than aiming to institutionalize home languages in formal education, this means developing a critical awareness of the different ways in which a language can be practiced and the different motivations and relationships people have with the language practices that contribute to their language biography. We have different language preferences depending on the different social and communicative functions we are performing. Many of these student teachers have shown how they like to write in one language, to speak in another and how their language biographies are tied up in many different discourses and motivations, from the deeply personal and affective, to the pragmatic and the desire to follow institutional norms. It is more than likely that their pupils will also have this complex and multifaceted relationship to their language practices. 48

Ethically speaking, if teachers consider their own language biographies to be legitimate then they should do the same for their pupils. Moreover they should make sure that their professional practice does not implicitly or explicitly bring this into question. This implies teaching that is critically aware of the relationship between language and learning. This means, for example, acknowledging the role of informal language practices in terms of social identity and communication whist simultaneously promoting the development of literacy in the official languages. It means making a distinction between written and spoken language practices, but also making meaningful links between different language practices be they formal or informal, spoken or written, official or unofficial. This is a far greater challenge than teaching language competency based on a normative standard that is evaluated through national testing and it is a challenge for all teachers, not just those who teach languages. 3.8.2 Differences between the big four languages While Luxembourgish, German, French and English can be considered to be shared languages within the student teacher cohort, a closer analysis shows a number of differences in the ways these languages are practiced. Figure 23 shows the comparative data from the six questions relating to language practice and perception.

150 120 90 60 30 Lux. German 0 English


Competency age 4 Written competency Written preference Spoken preference

Spoken competency Importance in professional life Importance in personal life

Figure 23: Comparison of responses for the 'big four' languages (totals)

These data show that German and French have similar profiles. Both have a relatively low number of early-childhood speakers and a near universal spoken and written practice. Both have a similar rates of perceived 49

professional importance as well as written and spoken preference. French however is considered to be more important in the social lives of the participants slightly more often than German. In addition the responses follow a similar pattern with more people expressing a preference for writing the languages than for speaking them and more people indicating the languages are important in their professional lives than in their personal lives. English follows a similar pattern with nearly universal spoken and written competency reported. However English is considered to be personally and professionally important by far fewer people than French or German. The number of responses for the other questions is also lower. This suggests that while the cohort can speak the language, it plays a more peripheral role in their language biographies than French and German. Luxembourgish, by contrast, is configured completely differently. It has a much larger number of early-childhood speakers than the other languages. Although most people reported being able to write Luxembourgish, the frequency of people citing Luxembourgish as a written preference or as an important language in their professional lives was much lower. While 123 people said they could write Luxembourgish, only 18 expressed a preference for doing so. The link between Luxembourgish and formal language practices therefore appears to be very weak. In contrast, the link between Luxembourgish and informal and oral language practices is, as has been discussed, very strong. The rate at which Luxembourgish is cited as a preferred spoken language and a language of personal importance is far higher than for the other languages. To put this into perspective, 71% of participants who spoke Luxembourgish cited a preference for speaking it. For the other languages these rates were 25% for French, 22% for German and 18% for English. And while 86% of Luxembourgish speakers said that the language was important in their personal life, the scores for German, French and English were 29%, 39% and 27% respectively. From these data a number of conclusions can be drawn about the language biographies and language profile of student teachers in the FOPED programme. Firstly as individuals and as a group they are plurilingual. Although they have competency in several languages, they do not use these languages interchangeably or in an equal way. Rather, different languages fulfill different social, communicative, symbolic and affective functions. Similarly, different linguistic epistemologies are invoked, particularly in terms of a distinction between formal written language practices and vernacular communicative practices. Luxembourgish is very much at the heart of a vernacular practice. In terms of a more formal written practice, it appears that many participants express a greater preference for either French or German (and sometimes English), rather than a balanced preference for both 50

languages. These preferences are informed by an ability to write well to reproduce the linguistic standard accurately and appropriately rather than by personal or affective reasons and focus on professional rather than personal domains. Secondly, in terms of linguistic diversity the cohort is not as diverse as expected. Few other languages are practiced and fewer still are seen to be important. In particular, literacy practices tend to be concentrated on French and German, with English and Luxembourgish playing a supporting role. Migrant languages are all but absent from the spoken language profile of the cohort and play no part in their literacy practices. The cohort is highly normative and although there are many exceptions, clear language norms can be seen within the group. Although the cohort is highly multilingual, this multilingualism is not very broad and does not extend very far beyond the official language policy of the state. As language users, most participants appear to have developed their linguistic biographies from the range of languages available at school and few speak languages that are not available through institutional education. Thirdly, in regard to language biographies, for many these appear to be closely linked to early childhood language practices. As participants learn new languages, these also become a part of their language biographies. Although some participants no longer preferred to speak the language(s) of their early childhood, for many participants the inclusion of new languages into their repertoire had an additive effect on language preferences and perceptions. Having said this, for many, this additive effect tends to cover domains that Luxemborgish does not: namely formal, written and institutionalized language practices. For the majority these more recent languages tend to remain, to a greater or lesser extent, affectively peripheral. Finally, while participants have the possibility of using several languages for any particular social, communicative or symbolic purpose, this multilingual competency is filtered through a complex frame of preferences, perceptions, expressions of identity, pragmatic judgments and epistemological representations that in effect make certain language choices more appropriate than others for participants in any given situation. While competency in a language provides the possibility to use the language, it does not provide the motive.


Chapter 4. Language Norms and Language Diversity

In developing this language profile of Luxembourgs student teachers in the secondary FOPED programme, one of the main intentions was to do so in such a way as to compare the results with national data. In this way, the first part of the research questionnaire was developed following work done by Fehlen and published in the report Baleine Bis (2009). Although the means and scope of Fehlens research go beyond those of this project, it is nevertheless interesting to make this comparison. Of particular interest is the extent to which the group is representative of the general population (and by extension the school population).

4.1 Comparing the cohort with national data

Looking at the childhood language practices of the student teacher cohort and national adult resident data, Luxembourgish and German are clearly overrepresented in the data. By contrast, Portuguese and Italian are underrepresented (figure 24). This indicates that a smaller percentage of student teachers come from a background where non-national languages were spoken in comparison to the general resident population.









0 Italian

student teachers (2010)

national (2004)


Figure 24: Comparison between languages spoken by student teachers and Luxembourgish residents at four years of age. All national data from Fehlen (2009)

In comparing adult competency between student teachers and Luxembourgs residents, the discrepancy continues (figure 25). Not only do student teachers speak the big four languages at a higher rate than the general adult resident 53

population, they speak more Spanish, Italian and Dutch as well. This indicates that in general student teachers speak more languages per capita than the general population. The only language that is underrepresented in the student teacher cohort is Portuguese.




25 Lux.

German French




0 Dutch Spanish

student teachers (2010)

national (2008)


Figure 25: Language competency - comparison with national adult resident population (percentages)

The discrepancy between these two sets of data can to a large extent be explained by the selection criteria for the two groups. In effect, because of the very specific and exigent linguistic entry criteria for the teacher training programme, few non-Luxembourgers are admitted. If the students are compared to Luxembourg citizens, rather than residents, then a different picture emerges (figure 26). In effect, the percentages of speakers for the three national languages are similar and the national percentage of Portuguese speakers drops dramatically to a level similar to the student cohort. Only English and to a lesser extent Spanish, Italian and Dutch are significantly different between the two groups. These differences can largely be explained by the relatively high level of education that student teachers have, compared to the general population. It appears therefore that the student teacher cohort, despite not having the same language profile as the national resident population, has a typical profile for educated Luxembourg citizens. The fact that few migrant languages are spoken in the cohort is not because of any explicit political or ideological orientation away from these languages. Rather, they are typical Luxembourgers with a language profile that is also typical or, if anything, a little more diverse that average. The normative language profile of the cohort can instead be explained by national language-in-education policies, both in the way that prospective teachers whose language biographies do not match the ideal national profile are filtered out by the language entrance exams, and 54

also, potentially, through language profiling in school that orients children from diverse language backgrounds away from educational pathways that lead to the teaching profession.




25 Lux.

German French




0 Dutch Spanish

student teachers (2010)

national (2008)


Figure 26: Language competency - comparison with Luxembourgish citizens (percentages)

An analysis of these data raises three issues. Firstly, as the national data show, typical Luxembourgers have a very different language profile to residents who are not citizens. With the high degree of migration to Luxembourg, schools are inevitably going to be places where pupils speak different languages and speak languages differently. Indeed, 91% of student teachers who participated in the research reported that they had pupils in their class who speak a language other than a school language at home. Because of this, it is important for student teachers to prepare to teach to this diversity through, for example, learning about second and third language acquisition, strategies to support the development of academic literacy in non-home languages, issues dealing with equity and language diversity in the school, as well as the issues around vernacular and institutional language practices discussed in the previous chapter. Student teachers do receive some training in some of these areas, however, given the widespread linguistic diversity in schools, the relatively narrow language profile of the student teachers, and the high stakes involved for pupils, these issues of language diversity and equity are in no way peripheral to the professional development of teachers. Rather they are at the very heart of pedagogy, didactics, curriculum development and educational policy and planning. Because this issue is one of the fundamental challenges for education in Luxembourg, it should be a fundamental part of teacher education.


Secondly, these data draw into question the process through which student teachers are selected to enroll in the FOPED course. Officially the opportunity to become a teacher is open to any European citizen with the academic qualifications and the language skills. And this is the issue, because unofficially these criteria exclude almost everyone except middle-class Luxembourgers from enrolling. There is no suggestion here that the university should lower its academic standards to diversify its intake but it would be beneficial for the university and the ministry of education to find ways to attract people with more diverse backgrounds and different language profiles to the teaching profession. Thirdly, this brings into question the role of the teacher in the classroom. Teachers have many roles: as an expert, as a social role model, as an example of educational success, as a gate-keeper, as a learning facilitator, as a representative of the state and as an agent for social change. Teachers can be all of these things, and are often asked to be many of these things at the same time. While teachers each deal with the tensions and contradictions inherent in their profession in their own ways, it is also important to provide support for professional development. In particular, teachers have an important and powerful role in implementing educational policies. For example, teachers implement language-in-education policies in their classrooms on a daily basis both consciously and unconsciously through their teaching as well as the language rules and norms that they instigate in their classrooms: which languages are allowed, which are not allowed, which should be used and which are actually used, when and how are different languages and language practices used? In fact, teachers are themselves language policy makers who have a great deal of power as to the ways in which language diversity and linguistic heterogeneity are dealt with. The ways in which classroom language policies are developed and enacted have a potentially profound effect on the learning outcomes of pupils. Looking at the ways in which the research participants talked about the languages in their professional lives, a number appeared to be aware of this issue, describing, for example the importance of using languages other than the official language of instruction to explain things to pupils and to help them learn. Indeed, one participant reported consciously initiating a classroom practice that was different from official policy. However for most participants languages were important because of externally decided language policies they talked about what the official school language policies and practices were, not their own (see 4.2.2). It is therefore very important that teachers have the critical skills to analyze the ways in which national, school and classroom language policies inform the learning of their pupils. Likewise, it is equally important to have the professional skills, confidence and power to take responsibility for implementing classroom language policies and practices that help their pupils 56

equitably. Teachers can initiate classroom language policies that support multilingual and plurilingual learning. They can develop a critical awareness of the ways in which their actions and words implicitly and explicitly affect their pupils learning. Moreover, they can develop an awareness of linguistic difference: in other words, that their own language biographies are not the same as those of their pupils, even if they share one or more common languages. Pupils from different linguistic and socioeconomic backgrounds who are developing literacy in two or three different languages in addition to their own home language practices have very different language biographies to teachers who were born Luxembourgish citizens and who succeeded in the school system. If teachers are to acknowledge this social reality, they need to be able to decentre, to see and understand what is happening in the classroom in terms of language and learning from their pupils perspectives. Whether classrooms are the sites of linguistic inclusiveness or exclusion depends not only on official language-in-education policies but in the classroom policies and practices of teachers. In order for classrooms to be sites of inclusion and equity, teachers first need to become aware of the key role that their actions, both conscious and unconscious, play in creating equitable and inclusive learning environments. Moreover, they need the critical, conceptual and pedagogical tools necessary to foster such an environment.

4.2. Perceptions of language diversity and professional practice

The final section in the research questionnaire explored the ways in which student teachers perceived four main issues in education. These issues were: multilingualism and learning; classroom language policy; professional identity and practice; and linguistic learning challenges. Participants were asked to respond to 20 likert-scale questions, with 5-step responses ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The questions were mixed so that the themes were less obvious and less likely to influence the responses of the participants. Here, however the questions are presented thematically to facilitate analysis. 4.2.1 Multilingualism and learning This series of questions was aimed specifically at developing an understanding of how participants felt about multilingualism in Luxembourg and multilingual learning. In general there is strong support for multilingualism and a belief that linguistic diversity is a part both of Luxembourgs identity and the identities of Luxembourgers. Only two percent of participants disagreed with the statement plurilingualism is a part of Luxembourgish identity (figure 27). Likewise, only 5% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement we learn 57

too many languages in Luxembourg (figure 28). In terms of language learning in school, 90% agreed or strongly agreed that it was possible for children to learn to read and write in more than one language simultaneously (figure 29).

2!% 2!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree

39!% 56!%

Figure 27: Plurilingualism is a part of Luxembourgish identity

strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree

3!% 2!% 10!% 53!% 32!%

Figure 28: We learn too many languages in Luxembourg

4!% 6!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree 37!%


Figure 29: A child can learn to read and write in more than one language simultaneously


These responses underscore the importance of multilingualism in Luxembourg for student teachers. Although it presents significant challenges, the value student teachers placed on multilingualism seems to indicate that they think it is worth it. Clearly, these people have succeeded in the system, so it is not surprising that they feel this way multilingualism has worked for them and has enabled them to pursue a socially prestigious and well-paid career. Interestingly, over half of the participants thought that Luxembourgish is a threatened language (figure 30). Although we cannot know for sure, it is interesting to speculate why it is that they think this to be true. Clearly, given the other responses, Luxembourgish is not being threatened by multilingualism: on the contrary, it plays an intrinsic part in multilingual and plurilingual practices in Luxembourg. Perhaps there is a perception that Luxembourgish is threatened because of its small number of speakers compared with most other national languages in Europe and the other languages that the cohort speaks. Perhaps the threat is perceived to come from non-national languages such as Portuguese or the fact that nearly half of the resident population do not speak the language (Fehlen 2009:81). Perhaps there is a perception that Luxembourgish is vulnerable because it is mainly used as a vernacular and is not (yet) widely used as a written standard. Perhaps the perceived vulnerability of the language acts as a bond between Luxembourgers so that the threatened status increases the sense of social cohesion in the community (its us against the world). Perhaps it is a combination of many reasons. More research is needed to explore this question in greater detail.

7!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree 16!% 24!%

20!% 33!%

Figure 30: Luxembourgish is a threatened language

Whatever the reasons, the data suggest that while the participants felt that multilingualism was a good thing and a defining feature of Luxembourgish identity, this multilingualism is defined as competency in the national languages. In response to the statement that all pupils should have the opportunity to learn Portuguese at school, only 19% of participants agreed 59

or strongly agreed (figure 31). In other words, we dont learn too many languages at school, but Portuguese isnt one that we generally should. This suggests that for many, Portuguese is not seen as being a legitimate part of the national language profile and not a part of the multilingualism they so strongly support.

4!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree 22!% 15!%



Figure 31: All pupils should have the opportunity to learn Portuguese at school

This question adds weight to the debate, discussed earlier, about discourses of integration and assimilation that are invoked with regards to migrants and migrant languages: notably the belief that integration happens when migrants learn the language or languages of their new society and conversely that a failure to learn a language leads to a lack of integration and an increase in social problems. At issue, however, is the extent to which migrants are expected to develop competency in their hosts language(s), and what sort of competencies should they develop, before they are accepted as fully legitimate members of the national community. To take the case of vocational training for example, should apprentice bakers or mechanics be required to acquire competency in the national languages before they begin their training, or should they be able to learn in the language that they are most comfortable in and learn best with? In other words, is linguistic competency a necessary prerequisite for social and professional integration or can integration be achieved by firstly gaining a accreditation to practice a trade, and then developing the language competencies required in the workplace? Clearly, language learning is a powerful way of promoting social integration but it is also high-stakes. Pupils who do not speak one or more of the national languages at home and fail to achieve the required academic competency at school, often leave with no academic or vocational qualifications and poor literacy skills (Council of Europe 2005, Weber and Horner 2010). In this way, a social requirement that people learn languages before they are considered integrated can have the perverse effect of blocking the social integration of


people who, for whatever reason, have not achieved competency in the legitimate languages. 4.2.2 Classroom language policy This series of questions sought to explore the ways in which student teachers understood the relationship between language and learning in the classroom and in the school. In particular it was interested in the responses of student teachers to different ways of dealing with teaching a multilingual curriculum to a linguistically diverse class. Again these data underscore the value student teachers place on multilingualism. A majority of participants did not agree that Luxembourgish should be the language of instruction for non-language subjects (figure 32). This suggests they support the presence of French and German in the classroom and did not want to promote Luxembourgish as the sole legitimate language of instruction.

22!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree 42!%

8!% 9!%


Figure 32: Apart from languages, all subjects should be taught in Luxembourgish at school

For around half of the participants, this support also extends to the pragmatic use of more than one language in the classroom (figure 33). Officially, teachers are expected to only use the language of instruction in order to model to their pupils correct practice. Realistically, however, teachers make pragmatic decisions about which languages to use based on the needs of their pupils using, for example, Luxembourgish or French to explain things to students if they dont understand them in German. Having said this, however, nearly a quarter of participants did agree with the statement. Within the student teacher cohort, therefore, there appear to be two competing discourses one that sees the teacher as a language model and another that sees the teacher as a communicator and a facilitator of learning. In terms of the languages used in the classroom, the participants were very clear that the classroom language policy should not be defined by the pupils. 61

Most thought that it was not the responsibility of teachers to change their behavior or to adapt according to the languages spoken by their pupils (figure 34) and pupils should not be able to choose the language in which they produce their work (figure 35).

13!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree

5!% 18!%

38!% 26!%

Figure 33: Teachers should only use one language when they teach subjects other than languages

2!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree 29!%


26!% 28!%

Figure 34: Teachers should learn the languages spoken by their pupils to a greater extent

2!% 11!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree 30!% 14!%


Figure 35: Pupils should be able to choose the language in which they write their assignments


This last question again calls up several different discourses about language and learning. One is the idea that the best way to develop academic literacy is to be obliged to use the language. Another suggests that academic literacy is a competency that can be acquired in one language and transferred to another. A third suggests that academic literacy in one language is sufficient, even if it is desirable to be able to produce academic texts in more than one language. A fourth is one of control and discipline it is the teacher not the pupil who decides how learning should happen. Looking back to the analysis of writing preferences and professional language utility, it appears that many student teachers do indeed have clear preferences when it comes to the languages they like to write in. As has been discussed, the language biographies and language profile of the student teachers is not one of parallel multilingualism in other words an equivalent practice of multiple languages in all domains. Rather participants have shown they prefer using different languages for different purposes and no doubt with different competencies, yet they have succeeded academically. The question is therefore one of whether pupils can or should develop equivalent academic language skills in two or more languages and whether academic success should depend on their ability to do so. In relation to a question addressing learning challenges in a multilingual environment, more participants agreed than disagreed with the statement that one can succeed in school without mastering all of the languages taught (figure 36). However with 48% of positive responses and 37% of negative responses, the participants were relatively evenly split. This lends weight to the hypothesis that competing discourses about language and learning are being employed one based on a normative notion of multilingual literacy as the mastery of different academic norms and, alternatively, a functionalist view of language and literacy as the development of set of skills which can be employed in different contexts and across different language norms.

8!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree


29!% 44!% 16!%

Figure 36: One can succeed in school without mastering all of the languages taught


4.2.3 Professional identity Analysis of the questions relating to professional identity shows the extent to which student teachers are confident and satisfied in their professional lives. 96% reported having job satisfaction (with 54% in strong agreement) and 90% said they felt confident when they taught (figures 37 and 38). This confidence was also reflected in their view that experimentation in the classroom was a good thing (figure 39). Likewise many participants view team teaching in a positive light (figure 40). These data suggest that student teachers are developing strong, largely positive professional identities, and although the level of practical in-school experience they have had may be limited, it augers well for their future professional development.

1!% 4!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree

42!% 54!%

Figure 37: Teaching is a job that gives me satisfaction

1!% 2!% 7!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree 62!%


Figure 38: I feel confident when I teach

Three quarters of the participants also reported that when thinking about their teaching, they often made reference to their own learning experiences as children, with only 10% not agreeing (figure 41). For early career teachers it is not surprising that they make reference to their own experiences. However, as these data have shown, student teachers may not have the same language profile as their pupils and their learning experiences may be quite different to 64

those they are now teaching. It is therefore important that they also look beyond their memories of school and find ways to perceive learning experiences from the perspectives of their pupils and to evaluate their professional practice in critical ways.

3!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree 16!% 35!%


Figure 39: It is good for a teacher to experiment in their class

3!% 12!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree 15!%



Figure 40: Teaching in a team is better than teaching alone

3!% 7!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree 16!% 20!%

Figure 41: In reflecting on learning, I often make reference to my own experiences when I was little


4.2.4 Learning challenges The final set of questions related to difficulties and challenges in learning that pupils faced, particularly in relation to multilingualism. Their responses show a clear awareness of the difficulties faced by children from linguistically diverse backgrounds and acknowledge that schools can be inequitable places. 69% agreed or strongly agreed that school was more difficult for pupils who did not speak Luxembourgish well (figure 42). 88% agreed or strongly agreed that Luxembourgish speakers had an advantage in learning German the first language of literacy in primary school compared to pupils who spoke a romance language such as French or Portuguese (figure 43). In addition, 57% agreed or strongly agreed that plurilingualism was a cause of failure for some pupils in their class, with 17% in disagreement (figure 44).

2!% 15!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree 22!%


Figure 42: School is more difficult for children who do not speak Luxembourgish well

2!% 4!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree 8!% 42!%


Figure 43: It is easier for people who speak Luxembourgish to learn German than for people who speak a romance language


16!% strongly agree agree neutral disagree strongly disagree

1!% 7!%

26!% 50!%

Figure 44: Plurilingualism is a cause of failure for some pupils in my class

On the one hand therefore, there is an underlying consensus that school is a site of inequity and in particular that school is more difficult for pupils whose language profiles differ from the national ideal. On the other had, participants are generally supportive of the national language profile and the way this is normalized and legitimized through language-in-education policies, including the classroom language policies of many participants. It is difficult to interpret this paradox. It could be argued that because student teachers are aware of the potential inequities of language-in-education policies and yet implicitly or explicitly support those policies, student teachers are in effect passively accepting educational inequity in the classroom. This is a polemical statement and would most probably be strongly denied by a large majority of the participants. Perhaps more likely is that either the participants are not aware of these contradictions, having never had to face them, or that they are aware of the contradictions but lack the pedagogical experience and critical skills to be able to do something about it. Perhaps as well, they avoid facing the issue because they see it as too complex, too problematic, too political, too challenging or they believe it is simply not their problem. Whatever the reasons, an analysis of these data show the complexity of the issues surrounding the teaching of a multilingual curriculum to linguistically diverse classes. Moreover, it again shows the fundamental need for both teacher education and language-in-education policy makers to deal with these issues openly, critically and comprehensively.


This report has presented an analysis of a research project exploring the language practices and perceptions of student teachers at secondary level in Luxembourg. Its primary aim was to gain an understanding of what languages student teachers speak, the development of their language biographies over time, and their perceptions about the importance and meaningfulness of these language practices in their personal and professional lives. This data was compared to national data to see the extent to which the language profile of the student teachers differs from a national language profile.

Main research findings

Language learning and linguistic diversity The data show that while all participants speak many languages, the range of language spoken is quite limited. The range of languages spoken broadly reflects the national languages and those that can be learned as foreign languages at school. The data suggest that few student teachers in the secondary FOPED programme speak migrant languages. The implication of this is that a) few student teachers are of migrant background and/or b) student teachers who may be of a migrant background no longer speak these languages and c) few student teachers have had the opportunity or desire to learn migrant languages. A normative language profile Rather than being representative of the national language profile, student teachers are representative of the language profile of Luxembourgish citizens. Their language practices are those of ideal Luxembourgers and are representative of the national language policy objectives. The implication from the participants responses is that while they value multilingualism and see it as a part of the national identity, the majority do not see Portuguese as playing a legitimate role in this identity, or at least not in formal education. While clearly there is no obligation for student teachers to speak migrant languages, few participants see it as the role of teachers to learn the languages of their pupils. Discursively the trope of social integration through normative language acquisition is apparent. In other words, the implicit assumption is that it is the responsibility of pupils to learn the national languages, not the responsibility of teachers (and by extension society) to adapt to the needs and practices of migrants.

A plurilingual practice Multilingualism is commonly understood and discursively represented in Luxembourg as a balanced or transposable practice of three or more languages. This notion of parallel language competency is frequently mobilized, both implicitly and explicitly, in language-in-education policy, for example in the emphasis in the school curriculum for pupils to develop oral competency in each of the national languages and to be highly literate in standard French and German, rather than a focus on the development of pragmatic and transcultural language skills. However, participants in this research project showed that while they may be able to speak four or more languages, they have clear preferences and motivations about the languages they use in different contexts and the reasons why they use these languages. In this way, while participants did have high multilingual competency, the ways in which they enacted their language repertoires were in fact plurilingual: they frequently used different language practices and held different language preferences for different social, symbolic and communicative functions. A privileged relationship with Luxembourgish While student teachers in Luxembourg are able to speak and write many languages, the Luxembourgish language has a privileged and special role in their language profile. The language plays a particularly important role in expressing a sense of personal identity and affective relationships. It not only articulates membership of a tightly knit community with a strong, intrinsic social identity, it is an important key that provides access to social mobility and professional opportunities. The data suggest that this close, affective relationship is likely due to the role of Luxembourgish played in the early childhood of most participants. This in turn suggests that migrants will also have a close affective relationship with their languages of early childhood, a point supported by research presented by the Council of Europe (2005:45). However, while Luxembourgish enjoys a privileged social status in Luxembourg, this is not the case for immigrant languages. The influence of formal education on language competency The language skills of student teachers appear to be strongly influenced by their formal education. Not only does the language profile of the student teachers closely reflect language-in-education policy in Luxembourg, their language competency broadly reflects the order of introduction of languages in school. Few student teachers speak languages that are not commonly offered at school as a part of the curriculum.


A homogeneous cohort The student teacher cohort is not particularly linguistically diverse and is probably not culturally or socially diverse either. While participants all speak many languages, most speak the same languages. Rather than representing the national language profile, therefore, collectively the cohort represents the ideal Luxembourgish language profile. Based on the number and range of languages spoken, there is little evidence to suggest that many participants come from non-Luxembourgish backgrounds. Equity in learning These data confirm the broad critique of the Luxembourgish education system made by Weber and Horner (2010) that there is a contradiction in language-in-education policy and practice. While language-in-education policy explicitly recognizes that the school system provides inequitable educational outcomes for many children who come from migrant-language backgrounds (Berg and Weis 2005:20), in practice, few student teachers come from migrant-language backgrounds and most represent ideal Luxembourgers. Moreover, discursively the student teacher cohort reproduces discourses of integration and diversity that suggests that it is the responsibility of pupils to learn the academic language practices that are a prerequisite for success in schools. Thus while schooling may be inequitable for pupils from diverse language backgrounds, it is their responsibility (or that of their families) to redress this inequity. Generally speaking student teachers did not see themselves as being agents of social change in regards to this issue. Differences between spoken and written language practices The spoken and written language practices of participants are informed by different motivations and different discourses. Participants preferred speaking languages that they had an affective relationship with and that facilitated interpersonal communication. Speaking was clearly understood and valued as a situated social practice that communicates social bonds and affective links. Participants seldom called upon notions of accuracy, or normativity in relation to spoken language practice. In contrast, writing is clearly informed by a foundationalist epistemology: one that understands languages as discreet, rule-governed entities that should be practiced normatively. What was important was reproducing the norm correctly and in this case either German or French (but rarely both) were preferred by most. Indeed, relatively few student teachers expressed a preference for writing in more than one language.


The different motivations and discourses informing the perception and practice of written and spoken language add weight to the argument that these practices are functionally very different and should be treated differently in language-in-education policy and practice. Teachers therefore need to develop a critical awareness of these differences so that they can support the acquisition of a range of language and learning skills, both oral and written, that are appropriate and empowering for their pupils.

An analysis of the language profile and practices of student teachers in Luxembourg has shown three main areas that pose challenges to providing equitable multilingual education to children from diverse language backgrounds. The first is in relation to the homogeneous language background of student teachers. Despite their language competencies, the student teacher cohort that was the subject of this research had a narrowly defined language profile one that reflected that of educated Luxembourgish citizens rather than national demographics. In particular there were a striking absence of Portuguese speakers relative to the national population. This suggests that language-in-education policies and/or the selection process for admitting students into the teacher education programme does not encourage or support people from diverse language backgrounds to become teachers. In order to address this issue it is recommended that the Ministry of Education look at addressing how pathways to careers as teachers can be broadened so that people from non-normative linguistic and social backgrounds are motivated and supported to become teachers. This applies in particular to the way student teachers are selected, but also more generally to the way the education system filters out students from migrant backgrounds from the prestigious post-primary high school stream. Secondly, the data shows that at around the halfway point in their studies, although student teachers are aware that multilingual education in Luxembourg is potentially inequitable for some students, they do not have a clear understanding of the mechanisms through which these inequities come about, nor what they can do as teachers to address them. Clearly student teachers are under academic pressure and have a lot to learn and the professional competencies they need are by no means limited to issues of multilingual learning. Nevertheless, as one of the cornerstones of the education system, and as one of the main factors leading to educational failure in Luxembourg, the challenges a multilingual curriculum bring to teachers cut to the very heart of their professional practice and are by no means peripheral. Because of this, and because of the normative nature of the student teacher cohort, it is recommended that issues relating to plurilingualism, diversity, social equity and the like play a more central and 71

better-integrated role in the formation pdagogique (FOPED) teacher education programme. While many academics and administrators in the FOPED are aware of the importance of these issues, and while teacher education continues to evolve, issues relating to multilingualism and language diversity in the classroom play a relatively peripheral role in an already crowded curriculum. In particular there appears to be little coordination between the transdisciplinary learning sub-module focused on multilingualism and diversity in the classroom and the modules focused on subject disciplines and didactics. The consequence of this is that the issues raised in the plurilingual sub-module are seen by students as being overly theoretical, ideological or not of practical use in the classroom. This report therefore recommends not only a greater focus on questions of educational equity and social difference, including plurilingualism, in the FOPED programme, but also greater integration of these issues in the disciplinary modules to help students develop an awareness and understanding of how classrooms act as sites of educational equity and inequity. This implies the development of critical pedagogies as a fundamental part of teacher education. Likewise this implies the development of awareness into the power teachers have through their didactic and pedagogical approaches to promote socially equitable classrooms. Thirdly, this report recommends that all stakeholders in the education system in Luxembourg, including policy makers, administrators, teachers, parents and students, have a clear, honest and sincere debate about education and social equity in Luxembourg. Although there are many features of the Luxembourg schools system that are to be admired, clearly, as a large number research reports and scholarly articles that have been discussed here have demonstrated, educational opportunities for pupils in Luxembourg are limited for students who have difficulty developing language competency in the school languages. This is a source not only of social stratification but also a possible source of social tension. Rather than helping social integration, current language-in-education policies have the potential to exacerbate exclusion and inequity by acting as a gate-keeping mechanism that mediates access to prestigious and well-paid jobs. In a national context there is also a need for greater understanding and awareness of the relationship between language acquisition and learning, and a critical reappraisal of the epistemologies and ideologies informing educational policy. In particular language-in-education policies would benefit from a more sophisticated understanding of how language learning occurs in plurilingual contexts: not as the synchronous acquisition of separate codes, but as the development of an integrated set of linguistic knowledge, skills and 72

strategies that include and transcend language norms. This includes a greater understanding of the role of home languages in the development of basic literacy and a greater recognition of the development of plurilingual literacies. This also includes a reevaluation and broadening of the linguistic pathways to learning available to children in Luxembourg. At present, with the exception of some international schools, the only pathway to learning available to pupils begins with Luxembourgish and passes through the acquisition of basic literacy in German, then French with the probable inclusion of one or more foreign languages. However, other pathways are possible, including the development of literacy in French, Luxembourgish, Portuguese or in more than one language. Some of these options may not be politically desirable, but there is no pedagogical reason why a more flexible system would not be at least as successful as the current one. Indeed arguments that creating classes in which basic literacy is undertaken in French would lead to social inequities and a two-speed system are disingenuous: education in Luxembourg is already inequitable and it already has a two-speed system by relegating most students who are weak in German to technical high schools (Weber, 2009). In addition, those who argue that the diversification of pathways to literacy and learning through the creation of different learning streams would create a social schism need to back their claims up with research and analysis. It is true that such a system could lead to linguistic ghettoisation, but only if it were designed, funded and promoted in a way that aimed for this outcome. It is also possible to design a system that provides pupils with a choice of pathways. Provided these pathways are equitably resourced and supported, and provided that they lead to the equitable educational opportunities and outcomes, there is no reason why such a system would not work.

Future research dimensions

A number of extensions to this research are possible. One is to continue to follow this student-teacher cohort longitudinally as they develop as professional educators to see how their perceptions and practices change over time. A second would be to repeat the research with another cohort to see the extent to which there is variance in the responses. A third would be to undertake similar research in nearby countries for example France or Belgium, to see the extent to which the practices and perceptions of language diversity in schools discussed here are specific to Luxembourg. Finally, it would be interesting to see the ways in which these issues are addressed in other countries where multilingual language-in-education practices and curricula exist. One such country is Tunisia, where vernacular Tunisian Arabic, classical/standard Arabic and French cohabit the educational space in similar 73

ways to Luxembourgish, German and French. While these national systems are all unique, we can learn a lot from comparative research, in particular about our own practices and our own ways of understanding education, language and diversity. Finally, it would be relevant to see if Luxembourg residents who have different language backgrounds feel the same way about their early childhood language practices, or if the special role Luxembourgish plays in the linguistic identities of participants is also due to its status as an official language and its power as a symbol and vehicle of social legitimacy and prestige.


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Index of Figures
Figure 1: Gender Figure 2: Age Groups..................................................................................................................... 19 Figure 3: Number of student teachers per subject ........................................................ 20 Figure 4: Languages reported spoken at age four (percentages).......................... 21 Figure 5: Number of languages cited as being spoken age 4 ................................. 22 Figure 6: Breakdown of languages spoken at age 4 and combinations ........... 22 Figure 7: Percentage of participants who report speaking a language (by language) .................................................................................................................................... 23 Figure 8: Adult spoken language practice in order of reported competency (totals) ........................................................................................................................................... 24 Figure 9: Linguistic diversity of participants ...................................................................... 25 Figure 10: Percentage of participants who speak a language not generally learned in school..................................................................................................................... 26 Figure 11: Writing competency per language (percentages).................................... 27 Figure 12: Writing practices in order of reported competency (totals)................ 28 Figure 13: Language comprehension in order of competency................................ 29 Figure 14: Speaking preferences............................................................................................. 30 Figure 15: Writing preferences.................................................................................................. 31 Figure 16: Individual writing preferences............................................................................. 32 Figure 17: Importance of language in personal life (totals)........................................ 33 Figure 18: Language importance in professional life (totals) .................................... 35 Figure 19: Spoken language preferences - reasons given ........................................ 37 Figure 20: Written language preferences - reasons given ......................................... 39 Figure 21: Language importance in personal life - reasons given ......................... 42 Figure 22: Comparison between competency age 4, adult competency, personal importance and spoken preference ......................................................... 47 Figure 23: Comparison of responses for the 'big four' languages (totals) ........ 49 Figure 24: Comparison between languages spoken by student teachers and Luxembourgish residents at four years of age ....................................................... 53 Figure 25: Language competency - comparison with national adult resident population (percentages).................................................................................................... 54 Figure 26: Language competency - comparison with Luxembourgish citizens (percentages) ............................................................................................................................ 55 Figure 27: Plurilingualism is a part of Luxembourgish identity ................................ 58 Figure 28: We learn too many languages in Luxembourg.......................................... 58 Figure 29: A child can learn to read and write in more than one language simultaneously ......................................................................................................................... 58 Figure 30: Luxembourgish is a threatened language.................................................... 59 Figure 31: All pupils should have the opportunity to learn Portuguese at school ........................................................................................................................................... 60 79

Figure 32: Apart from languages, all subjects should be taught in Luxembourgish at school................................................................................................... 61 Figure 33: Teachers should only use one language when they teach subjects other than languages ............................................................................................................ 62 Figure 34: Teachers should learn the languages spoken by their pupils to a greater extent............................................................................................................................ 62 Figure 35: Pupils should be able to choose the language in which they write their assignments.................................................................................................................... 62 Figure 36: One can succeed in school without mastering all of the languages taught ............................................................................................................................................ 63 Figure 37: Teaching is a job that gives me satisfaction............................................... 64 Figure 38: I feel confident when I teach ............................................................................... 64 Figure 39: It is good for a teacher to experiment in their class ............................... 65 Figure 40: Teaching in a team is better than teaching alone .................................... 65 Figure 41: In reflecting on learning, I often make reference to my own experiences when I was little............................................................................................ 65 Figure 42: School is more difficult for children who do not speak Luxembourgish well .............................................................................................................. 66 Figure 43: It is easier for people who speak Luxembourgish to learn German than for people who speak a romance language .................................................. 66 Figure 44: Plurilingualism is a cause of failure for some pupils in my class ..... 67


Appendix: Research questionnaire.