Exploring Challenges Linguistic Minority Learners Experience in Multilingual Classrooms

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Addis Ababa University


This study aims to investigate how primary schools in Arba Minch address children with diverse linguistic background, in this study referred as linguistic minority students. It is founded on the premises of sociology of education which is considered essential to address the education of linguistic minority learners. More specifically, this study analyzed, through the application of Bourdieu’s notions of ‘linguistic capital’ and Cummins’ ‘interdependence hypothesis’ theory. The study used a mixed method concurrent design, and data were collected using questionnaires, tests, interviews, observation checklists, fieldnotes and document examination. The study revealed that linguistic minority learners have encountered challenges owing to their limited L2 proficiency. The finding also showed that the children used non-linguistic signals, time gaining, codeswitching, appeal for help, use of all-purpose words, and this shows the children were not competent enough in Amharic oral expressions. Besides, it revealed that minority language students experienced difficulties and challenges in negotiating competence and identities, which influence their opportunities for learning. Moreover, teachers indicated negative perceptions towards the inclusion of linguistic minority children, and expressed that linguistic minority children needed to attain a minimum level of Amharic proficiency prior to entering the mainstream classrooms. Recommendations for future research and implications for practice and policy include establishing pre-school programs, providing appropriate training for general education teachers, developing parent engagement programs to facilitate parent-teacher communication and to establish a collaborative working relationship between home and school.



Challenges Linguistic