‘Funds of Knowledge’ for Achievement and Success: Multilingual Pedagogies for Mainstream Primary Classrooms in England

  • Jean Conteh
Part of the International Perspectives on English Language Teaching book series (INPELT)


As global migration continues to grow, we are increasingly living in societies that have been defined as superdiverse (Vertovec 2007). Language is a central issue in migration, and multilingualism a fast growing global phenomenon. Though figures are hard to come by, it is generally agreed that the majority of people in the world are bilingual or multilingual and that, of those, the numbers who speak English as a second, foreign, or additional language now outnumber those who speak it as their first (Linguistic Society of America 2013). As multilingual classrooms are increasingly the norm, these trends have had a profound effect on the nature of mainstream schooling all over the world. This chapter focuses on one particular group of multilingual learners in England: those in primary classrooms. These pupils, normally categorised in the system as learners of English as an additional language (EAL) now make up about 16.8 per cent of pupils in primary schools (Department for Education [DfE] 2011a). The history of the term ‘EAL’, and its current constructions in the education system in England, are discussed below. EAL learners are not fluent or balanced bilinguals or multilinguals, but children and young people who, in their daily lives, in the words of Hall (2001: 5):


Classroom Interaction Home Language Language Diversity Mainstream School Initial Teacher Education 
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Further reading and engagement priorities

  1. Blackledge, A. and Creese, A. (2010). Multilingualism: Critical Perspectives. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  2. This book is one of the outcomes of extensive, fine-grained ethnographic research into complementary schools in four cities in England, covering Chinese, Turkish, Gujerati, and Bengali-speaking communities. It contextualises the teaching and learning in the schools in the ethnic communities themselves and in the wider national and international political and social contexts. It provides excellent coverage of the kinds of qualitative research processes that are best suited to understanding what happens in classrooms in complementary schools, as well as the home and community experiences of the teachers and learners.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jean Conteh 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean Conteh

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