Teachers' responses to their bilingual pupils in 6 Scottish primary schools: An ethnographic study

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This article reports on an investigation into the influences on mainstream teachers' practice as they respond to the needs of bilingual children in primary classrooms in Scotland. The central question investigated in this research project was What are the beliefs about best practice which influence non-specialist mainstream class teachers when teaching bilingual pupils and how have these beliefs been formed? The research was conducted in one primary school in each of six of Scotland's thirty two unitary authorities. I decided to take a multiple site case-study approach to the data collection. The ethnographic methodology adopted involved four periods of non participant observation in each of the twelve classes and semi-structured interviews with the class teachers at the start and end of the research period. The data collection was spread over a year with multiple visits to each site. My analysis of the resultant data set out to discover the folk theories held by the teachers which informed the practices which they adopted. This analysis of the cultural models which informed teachers' practice found that the Master Model (Gee, 1999) or main 'socially derived frame of reference' shaping teachers' practice in relation to bilingual pupils in the Scottish context was that bilingual pupils need to become monolingual in order to succeed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-121
Number of pages22
JournalSodobna Pedagogika
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2001


  • teaching
  • learning
  • primary school
  • Scotland
  • bilingual pupils


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