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'Second Language Education Group' Seminar
Participative Multilingual Identity Education: Theory, Evidence and Impact of the "We Are Multilingual" Campaign

‘We Are Multilingual’ (WAM) Team, University of Cambridge

Linda Fisher, Michael Evans, Karen Forbes, Angela Gayton (Glasgow), Yongcan Liu, Dee Rutgers


A global rise in migration and transnational mobility has led to increasing diversity in the multilingual profile of many classrooms. This has implications not only for the identities of migrant students who are learning the language of their new country, but also for those engaging in language learning in schools. In this talk we explain why a new dimension of pedagogy is necessary in order to help all learners to fully understand their own and others’ linguistic repertoires (whether learned in school, at home or in the community) and so to recognise their agency in being able to claim a multilingual identity. We draw on evidence from a series of studies conducted as part of the four-year MEITS project (Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies) which involved teachers and over 2,000 students from seven secondary schools in England. After defining multilingual identity we explore why this matters for schools e.g. we suggest a correlation between students’ willingness to identify as multilingual and attainment across the curriculum. We also introduce an innovative package of identity-based pedagogical resources for primary and secondary classrooms, which has been shown to help students develop their multilingual identity by building knowledge about languages, raising awareness and promoting reflexivity across the school (see This has important implications for changing attitudes towards languages and multilingualism, encouraging social integration, and creating an inclusive, multilingual school community. ​

May 16, 2022 03:30 PM in London

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