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FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren

Multilingualism in Transitions

Alternative title: MultiTrans: Flerspråklighet og overganger i utdanningssystemet

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

Learning new languages may influence individuals’ lives on short- and long term. MultiTrans’ objective is to explore the interplay between individual language choices, language policy and social contexts by investigating how multilingual individuals explain and experience choices they make during their educational trajectory. We study what these choices mean to individuals, regarding their language practices, identities and participation in social settings. In transitions into, within or out of the education system children, youth and parents must make choices when it comes to language learning, language subjects and linguistic practices. MultiTrans studies how individuals’ language practices are affected by the opportunities or restrictions that arise in educational transitions. How are language choices in schools affected by individuals' former experiences and ambitions for the future? How are individual choices in transitions affected by language policies? MultiTrans will develop knowledge about how encounters of historical and transnational minorities shape new circumstances for multilingual speakers in education contexts. We investigate linguistic practices of both historical minorities in Norway, as well as practices of transnational minorities that have migrated to Norway. These multilingual practices have different rights and conditions in education. The project is ethnographic. We follow a selection of participants through their educational transitions. This way, MultiTrans provides insight into the participants’ understanding and experience of the language choices they make in interaction with different social contexts in transition processes and into relations between past experiences and future ambitions. By creating knowledge about multilingualism in education, with emphasis on transitions and the individual, MultiTrans contributes to educational practice and policy that concerns integration and inclusion of Indigenous people and transnational migrants.

Multilingual identities appear to be particularly vulnerable in educational transitions. Multilingualism in Transitions is an interdisciplinary project which aims at understanding the temporal and spatial dynamics of multilingualism in educational transitions, under shifting societal circumstances. There is an urgent need for knowledge to improve support for individuals who wish to become and remain multilingual along their educational pathways. In policy documents and curricula, transitions are viewed as fixed points along educational pathways. However, the language choices individuals make in transitions are dynamic and are influenced by families, social networks, relation to places as well as past and present experiences and future expectations. To explore these complex connections, the project applies a broad temporal and spatial perspective. While transitions connected to multilingualism have so far mostly been researched through retrospective methods, we will explore them as ongoing processes, future perspectives, and past experiences. Empirically, Multilingualism in Transition focuses on Northern Norway, a region that has been linguistically diverse throughout history and where two processes, which can be observed worldwide, intersect: Indigenous people and historical minorities are reclaiming their minoritized languages and cultures. Simultaneously, linguistic diversity is increasing through transnational migration and global communication. Uniting researchers from sociolinguistics and education, the project will provide a multi-dimensional understanding of multilingualism in transitions, including institutional and language political concerns, educational practices, agency, individual and group identities. We will generate knowledge on how the encounter of historical and transnational minority languages shapes new circumstances for multilingual speakers in education contexts and develop applicable knowledge for professional practice and policy making.

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FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren