Kirsten Rosiers (U. Libre de Bruxelles)

“Dutch if possible, and also when it’s not” Ambivalences in declared, perceived and practiced language: Policies in a Brussels’ secondary school

Based on linguistic-ethnographic fieldwork in a linguistically diverse secondary Dutchmedium school in Brussels (Belgium), this presentation will analyse teachers’ responsiveness to multilingualism and inclusion. Taking into account the multifaceted nature of language policy, policy is described by means of an ethnography of language policy on (1) the macro level of governmental policy (2) the meso level of one school’s policy towards multilingualism, and (3) the micro level of teachers’ perception of multilingualism and their practices in one classroom. The classroom is linguistically diverse; pupils speak e.g. Turkish, Arabic, Dutch, French and have various migration backgrounds. Results indicate ambivalences (Jaspers, forthcoming) within and between policy levels. In the declared language policy (Shohamy 2006) at governmental level, an acknowledgment of a multilingual reality is vaguely touched upon, whereas a Dutch only policy is emphasized. Moreover, policy texts oppose to policy makers’ discourse in media debates. These ambiguities are translated in the declared policy at school level: a Dutch only policy is prescribed. Teachers should issue language tickets when pupils speak other languages, although the school also wants to include and prepare pupils to live together in a multilingual city. Teachers prolong these ambivalences in their perceived and practiced language policies (Bonacina-Pugh 2017) as they respond to top-down as well as bottom-up discourse. Although teachers approve school policy, interview data reveal that they show openness to the inclusion of other languages. In their practiced language policy, teachers resort to other strategies than issuing language tickets: they react in a jocular way, they impose language policy, ignore or accept and even include other languages.

Bonacina-Pugh, F. (2017) Legitimizing multilingual practices in the classroom: the role of the ‘practiced language policy’. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism.

Jaspers, J. (forthcoming) Chronic ambivalence in class: managing a dilemmatic language ideology. In J. Jaspers & L. Madsen (Eds.), Critical perspectives on linguistic fixity and fluidity: languagised lives. Routledge: London.

Shohamy, E. (2006) Language policy: hidden agendas and new approaches. London: Routledge