Multilingualism in the Monolingual School. An Institutional Ethnography of Viennese Secondary Schools from the Perspective of Teachers

Monday, 11 July 2016: 10:00
Location: Hörsaal 6C P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Petra NEUHOLD, University of Vienna, Austria
Multilingualism is an essential part of everyday life in Viennese secondary schools. A majority of pupils (and some teachers) think and chat in different languages. Furthermore, communication among teachers, pupils and parents is often only possible through translations by dedicated neighbors, pupils, relatives or multilingual teachers. Nevertheless, the German language remains the sole official language of teaching and communication in schools. This contradiction between lived multilingualism and official monolingualism, as well as its entanglement with the neoliberal restructuring of the Austrian educational system, creates a wide range of challenges for pupils, parents and teachers.

In this paper, I adopt the perspective of secondary school teachers on this situation, describing their ordinary practices and the related challenges they face. The aim of this paper is to map parts of the complex ruling relations that structure teachers’ everyday school life and hinder democratic education for multilingual pupils. As a sociologist and secondary teacher, I draw on the methodological strategies of institutional ethnography and auto-ethnography. My dual role enables a critical analysis of the educational reproduction of linguistic, racial and social inequalities by acknowledging secondary teachers’ local knowledge, practical experience and emancipatory strategies.