Promoting Cross-linguistic Awareness: English motion events in a multilingual teaching model
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The younger generations often learn English along with a number of other languages. Research into language learning seems to agree that multiple language acquisition and use is dynamic and concerns the whole mind system, where languages are interwoven (Cook 2016; Jessner 2008). This appears to encourage multilingual didactics, where the learners’ diverse languages are considered and transfer is viewed as an essential aspect of language development (Peukert 2015; Treffers-Daller, Sakel 2012). However, despite the existence of multilingual school programmes in the world, there seems to be a dearth of information on how teachers are prepared for multilingual teaching, a challenge that warrants attention in teacher education. Multilingual practices need to be informed by theoretical and practical knowledge and delivered by confident practitioners, who should have sound cross-linguistic awareness. The present article emphasises the importance of promoting cross-linguistic knowledge among primary teachers in education who will operate in multilingual educational contexts. It describes how Ladin student primary teachers in South Tyrol (Italy) are educated on how to develop and implement multilingual teaching strategies in the quadrilingual schools where they will work. At South Tyrolean Ladin schools, English is taught as a fourth language after Ladin, Italian, and German. More specifically, this article presents a qualitative case study on the teaching of English motion verbs within the multilingual didactic frameworkIntegrated Linguistic Education at primary schools and in teacher education programmes (Cathomas 2015; Le Pape Racine 2007). The topic of motion events provided a good example of how students in education can be exposed to cross-linguistic research and of how theory and practice can be integrated.