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Inclusive practice? Supporting isolated bilingual learners in a mainstream school

Grieve, A. M. and Haining, I. (2011) Inclusive practice? Supporting isolated bilingual learners in a mainstream school. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15 (7). pp. 763-774. ISSN 1360-3116

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Abstract

Abstract This article describes research which explored the development of bilingual learners as confident individuals and successful learners in a school where few children and no school staff shared their home language. Action research was carried out in two stages; to discover first how the pupils responded in an English-only environment and second, how the school could demonstrate that it valued home languages and promote bilingual skills. Traditionally it is accepted that bilingual pupils are best supported in a community to help maintain the home language and culture. This paper argues that if the school accepts bilingualism as a right and a resource, then with appropriate pedagogy, isolated learners can still be confident individuals and successful learners. The research suggests that the features which made pupils 'isolated learners' open the door to a genuine level of social capital that can sometimes be denied to minority groups.