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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton September 2, 2014

A multilingual learning community: Researching funds of knowledge with children, families and teachers

  • Jean Conteh EMAIL logo and Saiqa Riasat
From the journal Multilingua


This article describes the learning which takes place between children, teachers and parents in a multilingual learning community. It centres on a community-based, supplementary/complementary Saturday class where – slightly differently from the usual pattern – the aim is not heritage language maintenance as such, but to enhance the pupils’ mainstream school learning and their chances for success by promoting a “bilingual pedagogy”. This recognises the funds of knowledge that the children bring to their learning and affords opportunities for them to use their home languages in their learning. The article is based on findings from ethnographic case study research, which traces the experiences of language and learning in the home, complementary class and mainstream school of twelve children who have attended the class regularly for at least a year, and often more. In order to illuminate the scope of the data as well as the tensions entailed from different perspectives, the article foregrounds the individual voices of participants in the research. The theoretical frameworks related to language and learning that explain the findings include ecological perspectives, funds of knowledge and the dimensions of time across the generations. The key argument of the article is that the multilingual learning community has grown from and links with the history of the community as a whole. The article ends with some conclusions in relation to mainstream education and implications for the future.

Published Online: 2014-9-2
Published in Print: 2014-9-1

©2014 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin Boston

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