Teachers’ views on recognising and using home languages in predominantly monolingual primary schools.

Elizabeth Grace Bailey, Emma Josephine Marsden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of home languages has previously been advocated in highly multilingual
UK classrooms (e.g. Conteh, 2007; Kenner et al., 2008; McGilp, 2014).
However, drawing on the home languages and cultural insight of children who
use English as an Additional Language (EAL) may also have important social
and academic benefits in contexts where monolingualism is the norm.

Conducted in a small local authority in England with low numbers of children
who use EAL, this study investigated a) primary teachers’ views on
implementing language awareness activities, using pupils who speak languages
other than English as a linguistic and cultural resource, via interviews and
questionnaires and b) the amount and nature of references made to home
languages during classroom observations.

Although the teachers did not refer to or use home languages on a day-to-day
basis, they generally showed willingness to consider implementing certain
activities which incorporated them. However, largely, the teachers had not
previously contemplated such practice. They did not reference any academic
benefits to promoting linguistic diversity but were more aware of the potential
social benefits. They also lacked confidence in particular areas (e.g. linguistic
knowledge) as well as showing a strong awareness of issues such as the
importance of English.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-306
Number of pages24
JournalLanguage and Education
Issue number4
Early online date14 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2017

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  • home languages
  • monolingualism
  • English as an Additional Language
  • diversity education
  • language awareness
  • teacher attitudes

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