Workshop: Multilingual literacies in complementary schools

Adrian Blackledge

This workshop presents emergent findings from an ESRC-funded research project, ‘Investigating Multilingualism in Complementary Schools in Four Linguistic Settings’. Complementary schools are non-statutory organisations set up for the purpose of teaching community/heritage languages. In this project the researchers investigate schools in four communities in Britain: Bangladeshi-heritage, Chinese-heritage, Gujarati-heritage, and Turkish-heritage. The project sets out to explore the social, cultural and linguistic significance of complementary schools both within their communities and in wider society, and to investigate the range of linguistic practices used in different contexts in the complementary schools. Furthermore, the research investigates how the linguistic practices of students and teachers in complementary schools are used to negotiate young people’s multilingual and multicultural identities. In this workshop participants will consider data from the project in the context of children and young people learning to become literate in Bengali, Cantonese, Mandarin, Gujarati, and Turkish. Discussion will focus on the nexus of the ideological and the interactional, as the pupils attempt to negotiate between the monolingual world of mainstream school and wider society, and the complementary school’s drive towards learning the language, literacy and culture of the homeland.