Challenging the monolingual mindset – leveraging students’ out-of-classroom language practices for pedagogical innovation in the English-as-an-additional-language (EAL) classroom

Project Contact

Dr Yvette Slaughter

Project Details

Conventional views of teaching English as an Additional Language (EAL) often frame languages as discrete systems that speakers switch between. However, state-of-the-art theories of bilingualism have begun to challenge this assumption, arguing that the language practices of bilinguals are drawn from a single linguistic repertoire (e.g., Garcìa & Wei, 2014; Lewis, Jones & Baker, 2010), and that enabling access to the full breadth of students’ language practices can be a vital resource for further language development (e.g., Rennie, 2009; D’warte & Somerville, 2014). This challenges practices within EAL education, where curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment are predominantly predicated on monolingual (English-only) structures, neglecting the diverse language and literacy resources that EAL students bring to learning (Cross, 2009). As a result, students’ linguistic repertoires diminish as they move through school (Cross, 2012; Garcìa, 2009).

This research is investigating pedagogical techniques that draw upon the breadth of students’ language practices to facilitate English language acquisition, using ethnolinguistic mapping of students’ linguistic repertoires as a pedagogic device to assist teachers to design units of work which leverage students’ language practices to further their English development. The pedagogical innovations identified as an outcome of this project will extend the knowledge base of EAL teaching and teacher education.


  • Yvette Slaughter
  • Russell Cross
  • Lesley Farrell
  • Jacqueline D’Warte (Western Sydney University)


MGSE grant