Multilingualism and Multiculturalism in Educational Settings of Cyprus

Sviatlana Karpava, University of Cyprus

10:20 am – 10:50 am (Room 235)


Multilingualism, linguistic and cultural diversity are closely related to globalisation, increased
transnational mobility and increasing refugee populations (Cenoz & Gorter, 2015; Jaspers et
al., 2010; Phipps, 2019). According to Wernicke et al. (2021), it is important to pay attention
to multilingualism and multiculturalism in educational settings, to increase awareness and
recognition of linguistic and cultural diversity at individual and societal levels, and to take
historical, ideological, social, economic and political factors into consideration, as well as
language policy and the diverse language practices of teachers and students (Choi &
Ollerhead, 2018; Douglas Fir Group, 2016).

Multilingual education presupposes not only the teachers’ proficiency in several languages
(Nunan & Lam, 1998), but also their knowledge and understanding of language acquisition
processes, theoretical and pedagogical models, approaches focused on the development of
multilingual competence (Hammond, 2014), teaching strategies, language and content
integration (Palincsar & Schleppegrell, 2014), and language policies and ideologies related to
language teaching and language use (Flores & Rosa, 2015; Kubota & Lin, 2009).
As it is important to include a critical language awareness component in teacher training
programmes to ensure that there is a link between theory and practice (Gorter & Arocena,
2020; Young, 2014), this study investigated the beliefs of future teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL) in Cyprus regarding multilingualism, multiculturalism and inclusive education. The participants were 40 university students (3rd and 4th year), who were future EFL teachers, during a teaching methodology and teaching practicum course. Their ages ranged from 18 to 25 years, their first language (L1) was Cypriot Greek and they all resided in Cyprus at the time of the study. The students were asked to complete questionnaires, to participate in semi-structured interviews, to write online blog entries based on the discussions/materials covered in class on the topic of multilingualism and multiculturalism in EFL classes as well as the teaching methods, approaches and techniques that could be implemented in linguistically and culturally heterogeneous classes. The analysis of the data showed that the future EFL teachers had a positive attitude towards multilingualism, multiculturalism and inclusive education, and that these aspects should be promoted.