Publication Date

Spring 5-4-2021

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

First Advisor

Elka Todeva, PhD


Language teaching practices have been dominated by monolingual, deficit approaches in which students are expected to compartmentalize languages, ignore prior knowledge, and emulate how natives speak the target language—though there have also been many teachers who have challenged these approaches through the years. Plurilingualism and plurilingual pedagogy reject such ideas and practices and instead seek to cultivate linguistic repertoires (including partial or uneven skills across languages), engage prior knowledge and lived experience, and develop metalinguistic and metacognitive competencies. Drawing on decades of research in applied linguistics and associated fields, plurilingual pedagogy aims to teach language in a way that is more reflective of how it is used in real-world settings. While it has been widely discussed in academic circles, it has yet to be fully incorporated into educators’ practices, especially outside of Canada and Europe. As both an approach and a practice, this pedagogy allows instructors to bring equity into the classroom by valuing students' linguistic and cultural identities while also building student confidence. After introducing plurilingual pedagogy, comparing it to other language teaching approaches, and exploring its benefits, this paper explores four associated teaching practices. Finally, the Knowledge, Attitude, Skills, and Awareness framework for teacher development (Freeman, 1989) is adapted to help teachers link the larger goals of plurilingual pedagogy to specific learning objectives. The goal of this paper is to synthesize current research on plurilingual pedagogy and promote its ideas in a way that is pedagogically and methodologically useful for practitioners in the field.


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Educational Methods | Language and Literacy Education