Language Beliefs of English Teachers in Norway: History
Please note this is an old version of this entry, which may differ significantly from the current revision.

Language teachers struggle to shift from monolingual ideologies and pedagogical practices, as advocated for in the promotion of multilingualism and inclusive pedagogy. Additionally, the role of English as a multilingua franca pushes English teachers to rethink their beliefs about the language and its use. Even when positive about multilingualism, teachers are often uncertain of how to address the complexities of multilingual ideals due to varying contextual factors and a lack of practical knowledge and skills. As the makeup of learners diversifies, schools and educational authorities must mindfully avoid assumptions of a shared linguistic and cultural background among learners and their families. They must not overlook or downplay the richness of the semiotic and cultural resources all learners bring with them, especially those with multilingual backgrounds.

  • language beliefs
  • multilingualism
  • teacher beliefs
  • language teacher cognition
  • English as a lingua franca

1. Introduction

To capitalize on the richness of the multilingual and multicultural communities that are expanding in many regions of the world and to promote inclusiveness, many societies position multilingualism as a goal. In particular, schoolchildren are tasked with gaining multilingual competence through the acquisition of several languages. Still, researchers often debate the cognitive, social, and economic benefits of multilingualism, including building equity and promoting social justice (Berthele 2021; Beisbart 2021; Bialystok 2016; Jessner 1999, 2008; Cenoz 2003). Research and policy have encouraged and promoted the local adaptation of inclusive multilingual pedagogy as beneficial for individuals and society (European Commission 2017, 2018a; Cenoz and Gorter 2022; Rokita-Jaśkow and Wolanin 2021; Chumak-Horbatsch 2019; Sifakis and Bayyurt 2018). Yet, teachers still struggle to enact multilingual ideals in schools due to varying contextual factors, the need for increased knowledge and skills, and a lack of teaching and assessment tools that position multilingualism as a resource (Alisaari et al. 2019; Rodríguez-Izquierdo et al. 2020; Bayyurt et al. 2019; Erling and Moore 2021). The multilingual turn (May 2013) described in Western applied linguistics discourse questions monolingual views of language, pushing against long-standing monolingual and monoglossic ideologies in society and education. Fluid and dynamic views on language and communication have emerged as a result (Berthele 2021; García and Wei 2014), and there are calls for 21st-century skills and education experts who can adapt to the challenges of an evolving and complex future (Bransford et al. 2005). Furthermore, scholars have discussed new perspectives on the English language due to the expansive use of English as a multilingua franca (ELF; Jenkins 2015). ELF is an inherently multilingual means of communication involving people from different linguacultural backgrounds, each with unique multilingual language repertoires (Cogo et al. 2022; Seidlhofer 2018; Mauranen 2018; Jenkins 2017). Still, the teaching of English continues to be dominated by the ideals of the past, monolingual ideologies, and colonial perspectives of nation-states (García et al. 2021; García 2019). Learning objectives, teaching materials, and assessment protocols also typically position the “native speaker” as the measuring stick of English proficiency and success (Douglas Fir Group 2016; Sifakis 2017).

2. Multilingualism

Multilingualism is defined as “the acquisition and use of two or more languages”(Aronin and Singleton 2008, p. 2). Studied in many fields, including linguistics, socio- and psycholinguistics, and education, multilingualism can be addressed from two perspectives: that of the individual, or one’s ability to use languages, and that of society, or how languages are used within and across societal groups. Defining language, explaining how language is housed in the mind, and what boundaries separate languages (if any) are centrally debated matters in this field (see Berthele 2021 for an overview). Scholars have put forth many terms to describe the varying conceptualizations of multilingualism and multilingual communication, including plurilingualism (Council of Europe 2001), metrolingualism (Otsuji and Pennycook 2009), languaging (Jørgensen 2008), heteroglossia (Bailey 2007), and translanguaging (García and Wei 2014). Atomistic stances conceptualize languages as discrete, separate entities and multilingualism as additive (e.g., L1 + L2 + L3). In turn, holistic views conceptualize individuals’ complete linguistic repertoire as a qualitatively unique whole. They describe language as a repertoire of codes and resources that influence one another, intersect, and gain meaning through negotiated social practices (García 2009). This includes complex dynamic systems theorists, who see language as a process rather than a state (De Bot et al. 2015; Herdina and Jessner 2002), and languaging and translanguaging proponents. Languaging considers the contextualized social nature of language use as an activity, rather than as a system or a product (Pennycook 2010), while translanguaging posits that language consists of dynamic resources that comprise an integrated semiotic system creatively used by individuals in their identity development (García and Otheguy 2020; Cenoz and Gorter 2020; Leung and Valdes 2019; Canagarajah 2011).
Translanguaging has relevant conceptual, theoretical, pedagogical, and practical merits, which are actively discussed by researchers and practitioners. The translingual paradigm considers “the deployment of a speaker’s full linguistic repertoire without regard for watchful adherence to the socially and politically defined boundaries of named, national and state languages” (Otheguy et al. 2015, p. 81) and pushes back against previously accepted language usage norms (Poza 2017). With transformative roots, this paradigm redefines language from a perspective that promotes changes to sociopolitical structures that limit and exclude multilinguals and multilingual practices (García and Otheguy 2020; García and Wei 2014). Further, pedagogical translanguaging is a theoretical and practical application of translanguaging in educational settings. It is the use of two or more languages for pedagogical purposes with the goal of promoting multilingualism as a resource (Cenoz and Gorter 2020, 2022).

3. English as a Lingua Franca

Positioned under the umbrella of multilingualism, current scholarship on ELF is concerned with the widespread use of English as the “global default lingua franca” (Mauranen 2018, p. 7). Globally, ELF is used extensively in multilingual contexts, more often by non-native multilingual speakers than by native monolingual speakers. Unlike other lingua francas, English is used by individuals of all educational and socio-economic statuses to communicate in every possible sphere of livelihood in all corners of the globe (ibid.). Such breadth and depth of English use and the immense global interest in learning English uniquely positions the language. Moreover, ELF researchers question limiting the ownership of English to a few inner-circle countries and the long-standing focus on standardized English as the goal in teaching (Seidlhofer 2018; Holliday 2015). Rather, all users of English are suggested to have equal rights and opportunities to use and claim ownership of the language, regardless of their origin or background (Widdowson 1994, 2003). With such evolving views on the English language and the multilingual nature of its use, researchers and English language educators seek practical solutions for teaching and learning English in the globalized, interconnected world (Rose et al. 2021; Cogo et al. 2022; Bayyurt and Dewey 2020; Callies et al. 2022). One proposal is ELF-aware teacher education and pedagogy, which aims to challenge “teachers’ deep-seated convictions about language, communication and teaching” (Bayyurt and Sifakis 2015, p. 55). This is done by raising awareness and critically considering issues addressed by ELF research, including awareness of language and language use, instructional practice, and learning. From an ecological perspective, ELF-aware teaching practices and products (e.g., curricula, teaching materials, assessment) mindfully consider the whole learning environment, including contextual factors specific to the situation and various teaching constraints (Sifakis 2017).
Nevertheless, as teachers encounter the ideological notions of multilingualism and ELF and are encouraged to implement them in their teaching and assessment, many struggle to alter established practices and norms. They must synthesize evolving discourses found in policies and guidelines, such as changes in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) first published in 2001 and revised in 2020 (Council of Europe 2001, 2020). For example, the revised CEFR emphasizes that the “idealized native speaker” was not the point of reference for the development of the new proficiency levels, while acknowledging that the 2001 levels had a native-speaker focus. Researchers and teacher educators have proposed that increased knowledge of multilingualism and multilingual pedagogy can lead to sustainable change if adapted to local teaching contexts (Hult 2014; Hornberger and Johnson 2007). However, not all agree on the specifics of what knowledge and skills are needed and how to promote multiple languages in meaningful and pedagogically beneficial ways (Leung and Valdes 2019; De Angelis 2011). Teachers also remain uncertain about how to address the complexities of this ideological shift due to varying contextual factors and constraints, as well as a lack of practical knowledge and skills (Bayyurt et al. 2019; Alisaari et al. 2019; Sarandi 2020; Dewey and Pineda 2020; Choi and Liu 2020; Yuvayapan 2019; Lopriore 2015).

4. Language Teacher Cognition

The theoretical frame used very often in language teacher education is language teacher cognition, or “what language teachers know, think, and do” (Borg 2003, p. 81). Language teacher cognition is theorized as emergent, situated, and woven into the complex contexts in which teachers are found and participate dynamically (Kubanyiova and Feryok 2015; Burns et al. 2015; Li 2020). This takes a situated and ecological perspective of language teacher cognition, with a focus on what teachers do, why they do this, and the implications this has for learning from a bottom-up view. The goal is to identify “salient dimensions of language teachers’ inner lives” (Kubanyiova and Feryok 2015, p. 436). Formed early and resistant to change, teacher beliefs are often explored as one facet of language teacher cognition, characterized frequently as tacit, evaluative, and affective. Teachers’ beliefs are intertwined with their classroom experiences as learners and as practitioners (Burns et al. 2015; Borg 2006; Pajares 1992), and likewise, their beliefs deeply affect and influence their teaching practices (Borg 2009; Burns et al. 2015). The relationship is reciprocal in that teacher beliefs are influenced by teachers’ classroom experiences (past and present, as learners, student teachers, and as teachers), while their beliefs also influence their classroom practices. However, a straightforward relationship between teachers’ beliefs and actual classroom practices has not been found due to the complexity of the concept, how it is researched, and the multitude of factors that influence teaching practices (Pajares 1992). Further, research has described an interplay between belief sub-systems, one in which early-formed, stable core beliefs, often gained via experience, influentially compete with newer peripheral beliefs in decision-making in the classroom (Phipps and Borg 2009; Pajares 1992). For example, many teachers experienced British English as the preferred learning target for English education during their schooling, teacher education, and teaching practices at their schools, which may strengthen a core belief and choice to teach standard British English. Moreover, many teachers develop peripheral beliefs that are contradictory, such as knowledge and understanding of multilingualism as a positive phenomenon and the pervasive use of English in multilingual communication.

5. Previous Research in Norway

In Norwegian schools, an inclusive learning environment that recognizes diversity and multilingualism as a resource is required by law and stated in the National Curriculum (Utdanningsdirektoratet 1998, 2020a). Moreover, the Curriculum in English (Utdanningsdirektoratet 2020b) asserts that learners should be able to communicate with people locally and globally in English, as a lingua franca, irrespective of linguistic or cultural background. The curriculum thus grants ideological and implementational spaces (Hornberger 2002) for multilingual, ELF-aware perspectives. Research from Norway has found that English teachers generally have positive attitudes toward multilingualism and multilingual learners (Krulatz and Dahl 2016; Burner and Carlsen 2019; Calafato 2020; Haukås 2016; Angelovska et al. 2020). Yet, they require raised linguistic awareness and knowledge of multilingualism and multilingual pedagogy (Šurkalović 2014; Krulatz and Dahl 2016; Burner and Carlsen 2019; Flognfeldt et al. 2020; Iversen 2017), since monolingual ideologies are prevalent in Norwegian English teachers’ beliefs and practices (Flognfeldt et al. 2020; Flognfeldt 2018; Angelovska et al. 2020). Elite forms of multilingualism (Ortega 2019) are often promoted as well, mainly Norwegian–English bilingualism, while minoritized languages are not systematically included to promote multilingualism as a resource (Beiler 2020, 2021; Burner and Carlsen 2017; Iversen 2017; Christison et al. 2021; Haukås 2016). Rather, Norwegian is used regularly in English classes to ensure inclusion through sameness and avoid exclusion in using unknown migrant languages (Beiler 2021; Brevik and Rindal 2020; Flognfeldt 2018; Flognfeldt et al. 2020; Iversen 2017; Haukås 2016).

This entry is adapted from the peer-reviewed paper 10.3390/languages7020141


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