Ecoles plurilingues – multilingual schools: Konzepte, Institutionen und Akteure


This volume points to what Martin-Jones (2007, 178) calls ‘disjunctures’ between educational policies and the contemporary multilingual realities of life. It presents a collection of ethnographic and qualitative case studies from and about Western Europe, with particular emphasis on France and Germany. Indeed, the book itself is trilingual, with chapters written in English, French and German. In this way, it usefully complements Garcı́a’s (2009) overview of bilingual education in the twentyfirst century by fleshing out Garcı́a’s more descriptive account with case study materials from a number of countries. In their Introduction, Budach, Erfurt and Kunkel provide an excellent historical account of the development of education systems from monolingual systems via systems of institutionalised multilingualism (as in Switzerland) to multicultural twoway immersion programmes of the type commonly found in Canada and the USA, but which are also becoming increasingly popular in Europe. Some of the chapters build upon this historical dimension, including Brohy’s discussion of dual language programmes in Switzerland and Busch’s of the change of German Slovenian bilingual schools in Austria from transitional to language maintenance and enrichment models. Other chapters simply describe current and successful types of bilingual education such as the German Italian bilingual school project in Frankfurt/Main, the German Italian Gesamtschule Wolfsburg or the Staatliche Europa-Schule Berlin. Sometimes, these chapters do not limit themselves to mere celebrations of bilingual education but also point to possible deficiencies, such as the fact that frequently the bilingual students’ proficiency in the socially dominant language (German) is stronger than their proficiency in the ‘partner’ language (as in the Hamburg bilingual schools discussed by Gogolin and Neumann). Moreover, as I will endeavour to show, many chapters present new and interesting perspectives on the nature of bilingualism and bilingual education. A few chapters bring out the institutional differences between so-called ‘integration classes’, which often have an assimilationist orientation, and community school programmes aiming at language maintenance and development of biliteracy. The latter are described by Creese and Wu as multilingual and multicultural sites and as alternative and autonomous spaces, functioning within a dominant social context (the UK) which is marked by ‘monolingualizing tendencies’ (100). The authors sensitively analyse the use by young people attending a Chinese community school of a quietly subversive kind of ‘double voicing’ in the classroom: they ‘‘‘double voice’’ the classroom discourse through both adopting it and setting up opposition to it’ (105), at the same time mocking and supporting the teaching activities. On the other hand, far less autonomy is granted to students enrolled in ‘integration classes’, for instance in Catalonia, as discussed in the chapter by International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism