The pertinent and acute content of the article written C. Despagne “Promoting Multilingualism: Majority language in multilingual settings” (2009) convinced to choose this piece of writing for closer investigation in this blogpost. Despagne in her paper gives deployed answers on crucial questions “How can schools promote plurilingualism?” and “How plurilingual students should be treated at schools?”.
Most of the teachers use ‘monolingual paradigm’ while teaching, using only one majority language and neglecting students’ other languages (Igoudin, as cited in Despagne, 2009). This teaching paradigm hinders plurilingualism as a whole, since both minority language users and majority language speakers suffer from this. In order to solve this issue, European centre for modern languages aims to make a shift in teaching and offers to use ‘plurilingual paradigm’, which considers languages and culture of any individual as an important source and knowledge.
Despagne (2009) shows that monolingual teaching approach sees students’ languages as “the sum of separate competences, placing languages in unconnected “boxes” (p. 655), whereas practitioners of pluringual teaching approach believe that an individual’s languages may help him or her in learning a new language. In 1979, Cummins introduced the term “interdependence hypothesis”, which briefly says that all linguistic repertoire of any person is kept in one “box”.
Also, the author explains the project called MARRILE (Majority Language Instruction as a Basis for Plurilingual Education), which focuses on implementing plurilingualism in secondary schools with one medium of instruction. The given project is carefully designed to work with change agents of different levels, starting from school principles and ending by students. Moreover, MARRILE intends to produce the shift in teaching paradigms, school curricula and other documents.
Thorough analysis of linguistic situations given in this article, supported by policy documents, gives a general overview of how step by step the aim of being plurilingual society de jure and de facto may be achieved through changing teaching paradigms in secondary schools. I found this article extremely relevant to the Kazakhstani case, since European Council and Kazakhstan have the same goals of the knowledge of 2 languages additionally to a native language. Thus, the knowledge of reforms and their outcomes in Europe allows seeing the gaps in current schooling of Kazakhstan and making further improvements and changes in Kazakhstani educational system.
Despagne, C. (2009). Promoting plurilingualism: Majority language in multilingual settings.