Realising the Pedagogical Potential of Multilingual Pre-service Primary Teachers


  • Jackie Coleman Australian Catholic University
  • Jacqueline Coleman Australian Catholic University



Multilingualism, English as an Additional Language, teacher education, pedagogy, knowledge base for teaching, teacher roles


This paper reports on a small, qualitative study undertaken by an early career researcher in an Australian university into the meanings which multilingual and bilingual pre-service teachers attach to their linguistic ‘funds of knowledge’ (Moll, Amanti, Neff and Gonzalez, 1992) in relation to their university studies, and to their emerging identities as teachers. Current pedagogical best practice in Australia indicates that drawing on students’ existing funds of knowledge in teaching and learning results in increased intellectual quality, such as higher order thinking skills, and higher academic outcomes. However, the participants in this study did not conceptualise their linguistic abilitiesas having any value in relation to their higher education. They also appeared to tacitly accept reported institutional and pedagogical practices,which marginalisedthese abilities both as tools for learning and for informing their developing identities as teachers.  On the basis of these findings, broad preliminary recommendations are made as to how the learning experiences of bilingual andmultilingual pre-service primary teachers, and of their monolingual peers, may be improved at this university.The study’s findings point to the need for a larger-scale research study into this under-investigated aspect of pre-service teacher education in Australia.


Photo credit: By Fluss (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Jackie Coleman, Australian Catholic University

Lecturer, Faculty of Education and Arts


Adesope, O., T. Lavin, T. Thompson, and C Ungerleider (2010), ‘A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Cognitive Correlates of Bilingualism’, Review of Educational Research, 80(2), 207-245

Allard, A. (2006),‘ ‘‘A bit of a chameleon act”: A case study of one teacher's understanding of diversity’, European Journal of Teacher Education, 29(3), 319-340

Amosa, W. and J. Ladwig (2004), ‘Examining Non-dominant Cultural Perspectives in Pedagogical Practice’, Australian Association for Research in Education conference, Melbourne, 29 November-2 December, 2004

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013), ‘Cultural Diversity in Australia’, accessed on 19 October 2013.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (2011), ‘English as an additional language or dialect’ Teacher resource, accessed on 24 October 2013

Australian Government, Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education [DIICCSRTE] (2013), ‘All Domestic Students by Language Spoken at Home, Type of Attendance and Gender, Full Year 2012’,, accessed on 1 November 2013

Bialystok, E., F.I.M Craik and G. Luk (2012), ‘Bilingualism: Consequences for mind and brain’, Trends in Cognitive Sciences 16, 240-250

Blackledge, A. (2002), ‘The Discursive Construction of National Identity in Multilingual Britain’, Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 1(1), 67-87

Bourdieu, P. (1977), Outline of a Theory of Practice, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Bourdieu, P. (2002), ‘Habitus’, in Hillier, J. and E. Rooksby (eds.), Habitus: A sense of place, Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 27-37

Carter, K. and W. Doyle (1996), ‘Personal Narrative and Life History in Learning to Teach’.In J. Sikula, T. J. Buttery and E.

Guyton (Eds.), Handbook of research on teacher

education (2nd ed.), New York: Macmillan. pp. 120-142

Clyne, M. (2005), ‘The social responsibility and impact of the linguist/applied linguist in Australia’, Australian Linguistic Society conference, Melbourne, September 28-30, 2005

Cummins, J. (2000), Language, power and pedagogy: Bilingual children in the crossfire, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Cummins, J.and M. Early (eds.), (2011), Identity Texts: the collaborative construction of power in multilingual schools, Stoke-on-Trent, UK: Trentham.

Ellis, E. (2004), The Invisible multilingual teacher: the contribution of language background to Australian ESL teachers’ Professional knowledge and beliefs, International Journal of Multilingualism, 1, 90-108.

Fairclough, N. (1995),Critical discourse analysis: the critical study of language, London: Longman

Gee, J. (1990), Social linguistics and literacies: Ideologies in Discourses, New York: Falmer

Gibbons, J. (1997), ‘Australian bilingual education’, in Cummins, J. and D. Corson (eds.), Encyclopaedia of language and education. (Vol. 5: Bilingual Education), Amsterdam: Kluwer Educational Publishers, pp.209-215

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995),‘Toward a Theory of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy’, American Educational Research Journal, 32(3), 465-491

Lingard, B., J. Ladwig, M. Mills, M. Bahr, D. Chant, M. Warry, et al. (2001), The Queensland School Reform Longitudinal Study. Brisbane: Education Queensland.

Lo Bianco, J. (1987). National Policy on Languages, Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service

McKay, P. (1999), ‘The Bilingual Interface Project: The relationship between first language development and second language development as students begin the learning of English in the context of schooling’, Queensland Journal of Educational Research, 15 (1), 123-132

Miller, J. (2009),‘Teacher Identity’, In Burns, J. and C. Richards (eds.), The Cambridge Guide to Second Language Teacher Education, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 172-181

Moll, L. C., C. Amanti, D. Neff, and N.Gonzalez (1992), ‘Funds of Knowledge for Teaching: Using a Qualitative Approach to Connect Homes and Classrooms’, Theory Into Practice, 31(2), 132-141

New South Wales Department of Education and Training [NSWDET] (2006) Quality Teaching in New South Wales Public Schools. A Classroom Practice Guide. Sydney: New South Wales Department of Education and Training.

Pacini-Ketchabaw, V. and A.E. Armstrong de Almeida (2006), ‘Language discourses and ideologies at the heart of early childhood education’, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9(3) 310-341

Riessman, C. K. (2005),‘Narrative Analysis’, in Narrative, Memory and Everyday Life, Huddersfield: University of Huddersfield, pp. 1-7

Rodriguez, T. L. and C. Hye-sun (2011),’Eliciting critical literacy narratives of bi/multilingual teacher candidates across the U.S’, Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(3), 496-594

Safford, K. and A. Kelly (2010), ‘Linguistic Capital of Trainee Teachers: knowledge worth having?’, Language and Education, 24(5), 401–414

Wallace, C. (2005), ‘The Cultural and Linguistic Resources of Advanced Bilingual Learners in a Multilingual London School’, Prospect, 2005 (1), 82-94

Brightly coloured letters and numbers