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Viewpoints about Educational Language Policies: Multilingualism in Sweden and Switzerland


Adrian Lundberg har i sin avhandling på ett jämförande sätt undersökt olika åsikter om de språkvetenskapliga problem som flerspråkigheten utgör.


Adrian Lundberg


Professor Mona Holmqvist, Malmö universitet Professor Francis M. Hult, University of Maryland, Baltimore


Associate professor Joke Dewilde, University of Oslo

Disputerat vid

Malmö universitet



Titel (eng)

Viewpoints about Educational Language Policies: Multilingualism in Sweden and Switzerland

Viewpoints about Educational Language Policies: Multilingualism in Sweden and Switzerland

With multilingualism being regarded a vital issue to be addressed in tackling discrimination and inequality associated with language, the purpose of this doctoral dissertation is to comparatively investigate stakeholders’ viewpoints about multilingualism to advance discussions about ways education and research may contribute to a change for greater social justice and betterment for all students. Consequently, separate studies included in this compilation thesis empirically investigate how language management in education takes shape in relation to socially situated discourses about multilingualism and (language) policy. The selected study contexts in Sweden and Switzerland share a similar societal composition and differ concerning their political organisation and language history. A systematic research review about multilingual educational language policies in Sweden and Switzerland (article I) provides an overview of explicit and implicit research discourses relevant for the contexts under scrutiny. Grounded in a sociocultural understanding of educational policy enactment, this thesis’ theoretical basis draws on an ecological framework of teacher agency, consisting of, among other aspects, the mediated collectivity of predominantly subjective elements in teachers’ cognition. As a means to systematically and empirically study these socalled viewpoints, an innovative and inherently mixed method approach was selected. Q methodology’s benefits and limitations in educational research are investigated through a systemic research review (article II), drawing on 74 publications since 2010. Q methodological studies, consisting of a Q sorting activity with 40 teachers in Sweden (article III) and 67 teachers in Switzerland (article IV) were conducted in 2017 in a face-to-face manner. A range of viewpoints in both study components (understanding and pedagogy) emerged through inverted factor analysis and were interpreted through abductive and iterative reasoning. The results of this thesis show a mostly atomistic view of multilingualism in Sweden, standing in contrast to a more holistic one in Switzerland. Particularly the term multilingual student is conceptualised differently, as it often excludes native Swedish speakers in the Scandinavian context, indicating a monolingual habitus. A national identity and an intense professional development course in Switzerland seem to have led to a striking consensus in favour of multilingualism as resource in the first study component. However, more critical findings in the second study component illustrates how large-scale innovations involving a paradigmatic shift in teachers’ cognition demand long-term time frames and increased levels of trust, motivational conditions and recurrent input and feedback. Especially Q methodology’s flexibility concerning research design and study focus showcase why the approach is a valuable contribution to the educational researcher’s methodological repertoire, despite its timeconsuming and sophisticated preparation of data collection instruments. As an educational and mediational tool, Q methodology is considered a promising instrument leading to dialogues with participants form various stakeholder groups. Research in this thesis further contributes to knowledge by uncovering communities of practice and suggesting the term situated teaching. Additional support measures within the context of teachers’ pre- and in-service education are needed to increase the enactment of educational policies regarding multilingual language management in the classroom.

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