Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Social Inclusion Through Multilingual Assistants in Additional Language Learning

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Abstract:  The aim of this study is to evaluate and explore the deployment of adult migrants’ first languages (L1s) by multilingual assistants (MAs) in additional language (AL) learning for the opportunities they afford to include students. The context is Sweden’s Swedish for Immigrants programme, in which a teacher team appointed MAs to support their students’ efforts to learn Swedish. In this context, MAs aremultilingual school personnel employed to support the students in their Swedish language development by, among other means, using the students’ L1s. The ensuing research study set out to investigate and develop MA and teacher roles in promoting Swedish language development through L1 use. The quest to include the students permeated this investigation. Action research provided a framework for the teachers to study their classroom interaction with MAs as a basis for professional development. Group interviews complemented video data. Different dimensions of inclusion and Bakhtin’s thinking about other‐orientedness offer theoretical support. The results are presented as four cardinal contributions made by MAs with significant potential to include adult migrants in AL education. The teachers’ conception of dialogic activity specifies inclusion as a transsubjective enterprise that, through instructional restraint and translingual space, allows students to explore language and achieve progressively coherent responsive understanding. The MAs’ socioemotional work of reassuring, affirming, and imparting faith in student capabilities to communicate in and learn Swedish posits inclusion as an equilibrium between the demands of instructional situations and the psychological fortitude to manage them. MAs key role in contextualizing content illustrates the way inclusion can be realized by transferring language form and content to the students’ personal experiences, extensive knowledge, and everyday communicative realities. The teacher’s plan to entrust the MAs with the task of making their formative feedback accessible to students projects inclusion as increasing students’ capacity to regulate their AL learning themselves.

Keywords:  additional language; dialogue; inclusion; language use; multilingual assistants; second language learning



© Oliver St John. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.