About the project "Diversity in majority language learning"

What is the project about?

The project will focus on teacher education for the language of schooling (e.g. French in France, Polish in Poland).  It aims to provide access to plurilingual approaches so that teachers can address and build on linguistic and cultural diversity in classrooms. The project will also promote collaboration between teachers of all languages.


In multilingual schools the range of learners’ first languages is wide. This means that the language taught in the language of schooling ("mother tongue") classroom is L1 or mother tongue for only a few learners and, therefore, even the language of schooling is being studied within a plurilingual environment. Indeed, all the learners in the classroom are plurilingual, as they learn many foreign languages in school and master different varieties of their first language (e.g. dialects, hobby-related registers and language-use typical to certain communities they belong to). These languages and varieties do not exist separately in people’s cognition but they are all part of the same linguistic repertoire. We should not, therefore, ignore learners’ proficiency in various languages in the classroom of language of schooling. Languages need to be seen as situated resources that learners draw on when using a language for a particular purpose. All language teaching should enhance learners’ individual and multilayered language repertoires and support the development of a holistic linguistic identity.

The primary aims of teaching language of schooling is to equip learners to cope with the cognitive and academic demands of the school and future life in the majority language, and to give access and knowledge about its literary and cultural heritage. However, the point of plurilingual education in the language of schooling classroom is that it (a) enriches this experience with other heritages and traditions,and (b) that it is the way in which allophone learners are going to relate their own experience and therefore identify with the language of the school as a subject, so that all the learners' experience of it becomes fuller, and (c) that this will make learning more effective in reaching its primary aims.

When developing the teaching of language of schooling towards a more pluralistic approach, the key issues are:

  • How to develop learners’ plurilingual repertoire and intercultural competences? 

  • How to embed a plurilingual approach in the language of schooling curriculum and integrate it with other learning contents?

  • How to enhance productive cooperation and shared vision between teachers of different types of languages (majority language, foreign languages, second languages, first languages)? 

  • What kinds of approaches can be used for developing learners’ language repertoire in the language of schooling classroom?

  • How does teacher education need to be developed in order to prepare teachers to practise more inclusive, plurilingual approaches?

This project aims to move away from prevailing monolingual approaches to language of schooling teaching and teacher education, instead promoting an enriched view of educational possibility. The pedagogical view of the project perceives diversity as potentiality, rather than deficiency. The project builds on the work done in the Marille and Carap projects which focused on the knowledge, skills and competences needed to be developed in promoting plurilingualism in multilingual settings.

The project focuses on the teacher education of language of schooling and aims to provide concrete tools and study modules based on plurilingual approaches and building collaboration between language teachers and language subjects. It is a special challenge for the project to convince also teachers with doubting attitude or no prior experience of the benefits of plurilingualism in the classroom of language of schooling. 

This project was run within the ECML's Learning through languages programme.

Project working languages:
English, German, French and Finnish

Project term:

Target audience involved in project activities:

  • teachers
  • teacher educators
  • decision-makers: curriculum developers


The Maledive publication and web pages result from the work of an international network established within one of the ECML projects. We would like to thank all who worked on Maledive, in particular the project coordination team for their motivation and active involvement.

Project team

Eija Aalto (coordinator)

Nathalie Auger

Katja Schnitzer

Andrea Abel

Dagmar Gilly

Auli Lehtinen

Contributeurs secondaires :

Auli Kotimäki

Joël Thibeault

Gaël Prasad

Patricia Lamarre

Emily Linares