Flexible Multilingual Education: Putting Children's Needs First

Author: Jean-Jacques Weber

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Multilingual Matters
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This book examines the benefits of multilingual education that puts children's needs and interests above the individual languages involved. It advocates flexible multilingual education, which builds upon children's actual home resources and provides access to both the local and global languages that students need for their educational and professional success. It argues that, as more and more children grow up multilingually in our globalised world, there is a need for more nuanced multilingual solutions in language-in-education policies. The case studies reveal that flexible multilingual education – rather than mother tongue education – is the most promising way of moving towards the elusive goal of educational equity in today's world of globalisation, migration and superdiversity.

Extremely readable, this book offers critical windows into a wide range of educational contexts illustrating different approaches to bilingual and multilingual education. The author sets the agenda for much needed future implementations of what he defines as flexible multilingual education by drawing lessons from the impact that each of the programs and policies analyzed has had on children's, parents' and society's language attitudes, ideologies and practices. All in all, a valuable resource for researchers, teachers and policy makers.

Adopting a resource-based and flexible view of language, Jean-Jacques Weber's volume is an important contribution to the literature on language and education, moving us beyond ethnolinguistic essentialism and urging policy makers and educators to recognize, and work with, the complex multilingual repertoires of children. The argument, innovative, nuanced and convincing, draws in data from a range of contexts, contrasting fixed and flexible language-in-education policies in Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States.

This important contribution to language education signals an era of complex multilingual repertoires among youth living in super diverse societies. It takes a needed step in moving beyond compartmentalized and dichotomized language policies towards education that acknowledges students' rich linguistic and hybrid identity resources while evoking the need for critical inquiry-based education.

This volume presents a thorough description of current language-in-education policies across the world together with a compelling and well-articulated defense of flexible multilingual education. This is a book that combines strong convictions with scientific rigor.


International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 2014

This book is an important addition to studies on multilingual education. One of its main strengths is its comprehensiveness and comparative nature. Given the wide-ranging content in this book and its painstaking descriptiveness, I would recommend its inclusion in the recommended readings portion of syllabi for both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses and seminars on multilingual education. 

LINGUIST List 26.1459

Jean-Jacques Weber is Professor of English and Education at the University of Luxembourg. His research interests include discourse analysis, and multilingualism and education, and he has recently co-authored Introducing Multilingualism (2012) and co-edited Multilingualism and Multimodality (2013).


1. Introduction

Part I

2. Using Non-standard Varieties in Education

3. The Issue of Access

4. What Makes and Breaks a Good Language-in-education Policy? A Social Perspective

Part II

5. The United States of America

6. Hong Kong and China

7. Singapore

8. South Africa

9. Luxembourg

10. Three Autonomous Communities of Spain: Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia

11. Conclusion



Postgraduate, Research / Professional, Undergraduate
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