Mi Lenga is a research and development programme that will be central in the design of the multilingual school of the future. The ambition is to train teachers to be highly competent with multilingualism in education.
About the programme
A great need exists for knowledge about multilingualism as a resource in education. Mi Lenga recruits ambitious student teachers with any linguistic background who aim for a leading roles as future professionals in the development work of multilingualism in education.
In these master projects, the students:
- Explore current issues regarding multilingualism in various subjects at the secondary school level or adult education;
- Develop creative designs where they collect their own data in collaboration with the field of practice; and
- Draw on their own and/or others’ multilingual repertoires to access different experiences in school
“Mi Lenga” means “my language” in Papiamento, which is a Creole language spoken primarily in Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao in the Caribbean. The origin of the language is unknown, but it has common features with Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and West African languages. For many, therefore, the word feels both known and unknown at the same time. It is also the title of the poem “Mi Lenga Papiamentu” (“My language Papiamento”) by Philip A. Rademaker, in which he describes the meaning of language for the individual.
Mi Lenga is led by Joke Dewilde, Associate Professor of Multilingualism in Education, Department of Teacher Education and School Research, University of Oslo.
Mi Lenga students form a community with current and former students around multilingualism in education. A cornerstone in this process is the seminar series in collaboration with Dr Line Møller Daugaard, VIA University College, Denmark.
The seminar series include the following:
- Inspiration seminar: the development of a creative research design adapted to the individual student’s background and interests as well as research needs in the field
- Analysis seminar: a data workshop based on students’ collected data with an eye for topics across projects and subjects
- Writing seminar: a session to give and receive feedback on master’s thesis texts
Mi Lenga students also attend relevant conferences and events.
Master’s theses written within the Mi Lenga programme are related to various school subjects, especially Norwegian and social studies, but also English, natural science, mathematics and social science. Students are encouraged to draw on knowledge from other subjects they are familiar with and learn from each other, which is justified by the fact that many of the societal challenges require interdisciplinary collaboration to find new solutions and thus, collaboration is central to the students’ future profession.
Many Mi Lenga students choose to collect data in languages other than Norwegian, which gives them a unique opportunity to construct knowledge about students or parents with a minority background (Abdulrahman, 2020; Abuawad, 2019; Dede & Jahiri, 2020; Reda, 2020; You, expected 2022). Others collaborate with multilingual research assistants and thus gain experience in collaborating with intermediaries (Hatvik, 2021; Sarwar, 2021; Simonsen, 2021).
Key themes in the master’s theses are the use of multilingual texts (Hatvik, 2021; Iversen, 2020; Roland, 2020; Sarwar, 2021) and multilingualism in writing (Abdulrahman, 2020; Dede & Jahiri, 2020; Ramachandran, expected 2022). Students in social science didactics have also contributed with multilingual perpectives on culturally response teaching (Abuawad, 2019; Ayoubi, 2021; Dede & Jahiri, 2020; Hatvik, 2021; Sand, 2021).
Collaboration with schools
Mi Lenga has a strategic and long-term collaboration with selected teachers at schools in addition to the students’ collaboration in connection with the individual master’s theses. In 2020–2021, students, teachers and teacher educators met for professional seminars with international experts in the field of multilingualism. In 2021–2022, the collaboration will continue with a reading circle. This collaboration is of great importance to bring the field forward.
The master’s projects include students in various collaborative relationships within the field. Some students design a multilingual lesson plan in collaboration with a teacher, which either the teacher (Abdulrahman, 2020; Roland, 2020; Simonsen, 2021) or the student (Ayoubi, 2021) implements. Other master’s students borrow students and develop a research activity in close collaboration with the subject teacher (Dede & Jahiri, 2020; Hatvik, 2021; Iversen, 2020).
The National Centre of Multicultural Education (NAFO) is also partner in several of the master's projects.
Dissemination is an important part of the Mi Lenga programme, both to fellow students and more junior student teachers and to teachers and researchers. Mi Lenga has its own podcast series, called The Mi Lenga podcast, where findings from the master’s projects are disseminated.
The Mi Lenga students also disseminate the findings back to the field through video snippets to students who have participated and with presentations at staff meetings.
Mi Lenga students’ competence is in high demand by both schools and other actors. Several students have been given responsibility for introductory classes and become part of the school's resource team for multilingual students. In addition, several have contributed to the development and testing of Hugin and Munin, a mother tongue-supported learning resource for newly arrived young people and young adults.
In 2020 Mi Lenga received internal seed funding to further develop research and development collaboration between the university and university schools.