Multilingualism, Multiculturalism, Inclusive Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Sep 22, 2022

Dr Sviatlana Karpava, Lecturer in Applied Linguistics/TESOL, Department of English Studies, University of Cyprus

Multilingualism, linguistic and cultural diversity are closely related to globalisation, increased transnational mobility and increasing refugee populations. 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.

Multilingual education presupposes not only the teachers’ proficiency in several languages, but also their knowledge and understanding of language acquisition processes, theoretical and pedagogical models, approaches focused on the development of multilingual competence, teaching strategies, language and content integration, and language policies and ideologies related to language teaching and language use.

Students’ linguistic abilities have been valorised based on the language policies of the Global North, which views language knowledge in relation to the market, customisation and entrepreneurial skills. It should be noted that not all educational approaches support immigrant and minority language students from diverse linguistic backgrounds, as they consider their multilingualism and multiculturalism to be a barrier to teaching and learning. Thus, they implement exclusionary or marginalisation practices and policies for minority and immigrant students. At the same time, elite bilingualism and immersion and/or foreign language classes for prestigious languages (e.g., French and English) that are considered to be useful for higher education and career prospects are promoted.

Recent research on multilingualism and language education has mainly been conducted with a focus on the learning and teaching of the English language, or in English-speaking contexts. Such research has examined students’ perspectives or teachers’ views regarding heterogeneous classrooms, translanguaging and language policies pertaining to multilingual contexts. Previous research on teacher training and education has emphasised teachers’ leadership and identity, professionalism, pedagogical knowledge and majority language instruction, the development of language skills, and linguistic diversity, equity, equality and inclusion.

Various researchers investigated teachers’ needs and demands with regard to teaching in multilingual contexts in Europe, as well as social inclusion and intercultural communication, and their training and preparation for the challenges they encounter in real-world linguistically and culturally diverse classrooms and mobility programmes. They examined the role of power, identities, language policies and instructional practices in multilingual settings worldwide and addressed the issue of teacher education programmes in multilingual contexts in various countries, and took historical, ideological and contextual factors into consideration.

Recent developments in the field of multilingualism have examined the link between multilingualism and foreign language learning, as well as the issues of social justice and education. Multilingual repertoires are formed via the help of language education. Foreign language learning at primary, secondary and tertiary levels has triggered the development of a new generation that speaks multiple languages, with English, French and Spanish being the priorities. The numerous approaches to research on multilingualism and teacher education include psycholinguistics, foreign language learning and general education, economics, social equality, equity and inclusion in education, language policy and ethnographic approaches to language development, and pedagogy in schools and higher education.

Education should be inclusive and accessible to students from minority and migrant backgrounds. Teachers need to have special training regarding the value of linguistic and cultural diversity in classrooms, and need to consider code-switching, code-mixing and translanguaging as assets or learning resources. This can lead to improved social cohesion and social justice without discrimination, and can result in increased sensitivity and resource-orientation towards multilingualism and multiculturalism, and a better understanding of and enhanced awareness about certain needs and challenges related to education in multilingual classrooms (such as understanding the content linguistically), particularly the geographical and social contexts that affect the cognition, personal and social well-being of the students. More comprehensive and inclusive research on multilingualism and its effect on education is needed.

Anyone can be considered multilingual if he or she uses different varieties and registers of a language. In addition, language competence can be characterised as imperfect, partial or changing. Linguistic diversity in education is the use of diverse language practices to educate; thus, multilingual education promotes the ideas of social justice and the right and ability to use languages for communication in multiple contexts and societies. These are some of the issues that are investigated by Inclusive Assessment SIG


Karpava, Sviatlana (2022). (Ed.). Handbook of Research on Multilingual and Multicultural Perspectives on Higher Education and Implications for Teaching. IGI Global. Pages 549. DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8888-8

Sviatlana Karpava and Isaak Papadopoulos (2022). (Edited volume). New Trends in Applied Linguistics Research and Implementation. Disigma Publications: Greece. Pages 262.

Karpava, Sviatlana (2022). (Ed.). Handbook of Research on Teacher and Student Perspectives on the Digital Turn in Education. IGI Global. Pages 400. DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-4446-7

Karpava, Sviatlana (2022). Multilingualism and Multiculturalism in EFL classrooms: Perceptions of pre-service teachers. In S. Karpava (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Multilingual and Multicultural Perspectives on Higher Education and Implications for Teaching, pp. 213-235. IGI Global. DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8888-8

Sviatlana Karpava (2022) Development of Pragmatic Competence and Politeness: Perceptions of EFL Teachers and Students in Cyprus. In S. Karpava and I. Papadopoulos (Eds.), New Trends in Applied Linguistics Research and Implementation, pp. 171-187. Disigma Publications: Greece.

Karpava, Sviatlana (2022). Student Perceptions of Online and Hybrid Teaching During the Pandemic. Chapter 1. In S. Karpava (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Teacher and Student Perspectives on the Digital Turn in Education. IGI Global.

Sviatlana Karpava (2022). The use of ICT in the Foreign Language Teacher Training Course: Evidence from Cyprus. In Raul Ruiz Cecilia (Ed.), Research and Innovation in Foreign Language Teaching: A global Perspective. Chapter 4, pp. 121-145. TIRANT LO BLANCH, Valencia,

Wiliam, D., & Leahy, S. (2015). Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for K-12 Classrooms. Learning Sciences International.


Dr Sviatlana Karpava: Lecturer in Applied Linguistics/TESOL and Linguistics Section Coordinator at the Department of English Studies, University of Cyprus, Co-coordinator of the Testing, Teaching and Translation Lab, Co-Director of the Discourse, Context and Society (DISCONSO). She received her PhD from the University of Cyprus (2014).

She is MC/Core group member/ WG5 Leader of the EuroFam Cost Action Network, Board member of Cyprus Teachers of English Association (CyTEA), Executive Board Member of Early Language Learning Research Association (ELLRA), Steering Group Member of the Association for Educational Assessment-Europe (AEA), active member and research collaborator of the Cyprus Linguistic Society (CyLing), the Diversity, Equality and Inclusivity Office (UCY), Cyprus Acquisition Team (CAT) and Harmonious Bilingualism Network (HaBilnet). She is a senior editor and production head of the English as a Foreign language International Journal and an associate editor and style editor of the MEXTESOL Journal. She is the Principal Investigator of the two internally funded (University of Cyprus) research projects: MIGDISCY- Migration, Discourse, Cyprus and Heritage Language Maintenance, Variation, and Change (2021-2023) and YUFE Project (2022) Challenges and Opportunities of the Study Abroad Programs: Evidence from YUFE.

Dr Karpava is the author of the book: Vulnerable Domains for Cross-Linguistic Influence in L2 Acquisition of Greek (Peter Lang, 2015) and the editor of the Handbook of Research on Multilingual and Multicultural Perspectives on Higher Education and Implications for Teaching (IGI Global, 2022). She has presented her research at numerous international conferences and published her research work in various peer-reviewed journals. Her area of research is applied linguistics, second/third language acquisition, bilingualism, multilingualism, sociolinguistics, teaching and education. Dr Karpava currently supervises two PhD students at the University of Cyprus.