Connecting Educators, Families and Communities Through PASTEL (Plurilingualism, Art, Science, Technology and Literacies) Approaches in and Around French Immersion

Daniele Moore

School classes are more linguistically and culturally diverse than ever, and teachers and educators are more aware of, and better equipped to address, the complex sociolinguistic fabric of their social environments. In Canada, as in other parts of the world, there is increasing educational emphasis on the need to recognize and value the various languages and multiple forms of knowledge and resources that learners bring with them. The value of such resources not only lies in accommodating children’s languages and cultures. It is also anchored in the knowledge and practices of families as a resource and bridge to connect teachers, learners, families and communities (Gonzalez et al., 2005). Raising awareness is pivotal in encouraging teachers and learners, as well as parents, to collaborate and become researchers in their daily lives and experiences.

This plurilingual and pluricultural stance on knowledge production draws on the entire language repertoire, multiple worldviews, and transfer of skills and knowledge, disrupting boundaries and challenging monolingual ideologies and practices in education (Le Nevez et al., 2010).This change is based on the acknowledgment that plurilingualism and plurilingual practices are both normal and inevitable in classrooms around the world (Vallejo & Dooley, 2019) and that plurilingualism is valuable in curriculum design (Piccardo, 2013). Plurilingual pedagogies offer an asset-oriented perspective in terms of the plurality of the experiences, skills, and competencies that learners possess, in and around classrooms. As Coste et al. (2009) state,

[ajssets represent more than their economic or fiduciary connotations. If, in the relationship with plurality, the school directly or indirectly promotes attitudes of tolerance, of curiosity about things new and different, of inter- cultural perception and of identity awareness and affirmation in a world where levels and degrees of belonging display multiple and complex aspects, it will play a fiill role in civic and ethical education which today, in widely differing contexts (not unaccompanied by renewed debate) is at the centre of much reflection about schools.

(P- 25)

While teacher education in Canada is currently experiencing a profound shift in how to meet the needs of diverse learners, many educators, like elsewhere in the world, remain inexpert in implementing practical approaches to promote plu- rilingual awareness and multiperspectivity in their classroom routine (Moore et al. 2020). For example, Li et al., (2018) report that studies among Canadian educators emphasize their feeling of remaining untrained and inexperienced to effectively empower children’s linguistic and cultural experiences and to work as partners with their parents and communities (see also Campbell, 2017; Li et al., 2018). Teachers remain mostly unaware of plurilingual practices in everyday lives and in classrooms; they also tend to be unversed in plurilingual theory, and their professional knowledge rarely includes awareness and proficiency in the practice, goals and benefits of plurilingual education (Galante, 2016; Lau & Van Viegen, 2020). This is even more true in French immersion classrooms in Canada, where teachers are focused on teaching disciplines through a minority language while they need to adapt to ever-changing classroom landscapes (Fortune &Tedick, 2008; Nikula et al., 2016) and are expected to infuse Indigenous learning principles within their daily practice (Kerr & Parent, 2016; Cote, 2019).

Within this gap in teacher training, this chapter describes curriculum development and the development of pedagogical material within a model of teacher education based on professional learning communities working together towards the development of pedagogical scenarios to support, develop, and infuse pluri- lingualism, intercultural awareness and Indigenous worldviews within the disciplines in the second-language immersive contexts in which they teach. I focus on one pedagogical scenario, described later, as illustrative of a modelling framework for promoting and building school, home, and community relations. It exemplifies the many ways that integrating multilingual literacies, storytelling and art, and content knowledge can create transformative learning environments designed to harness cultural and linguistic diversity as a vital resource to develop literacy and disciplinary knowledge (Cenoz & Gorter, 2015; Conteh & Meier, 2015).The present work is positioned at the intersection of CLIL (content and language integrated learning) and plurilingualism studies, within which researchers have called for the development of strategic language awareness in teacher education (Cammarata &Tedick, 2012; Marsh et al.,2019;Troyan, 2014). It is also profoundly anchored in a core belief that

[t]o accept the notion that the educational curriculum is not limited to school and does not end with it is also to accept that plurilingual and plu- ricultural competence may begin before school, and proceed parallel with it: through family experience and learning, history and contacts between generations, travel, expatriation, emigration, and more generally belonging to a multilingual and multicultural environment or moving from one environment to another, but also through reading, and through the media.

(Coste el ci/., 2009, p. 32)

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