Pre-Service Teachers' Intercultural Sensitivity, Multicultural Efficacy, and Attitudes Toward Multilingualism

Pre-Service Teachers' Intercultural Sensitivity, Multicultural Efficacy, and Attitudes Toward Multilingualism

Ioannis Karras (Ionian University, Greece), Julia A. Spinthourakis (University of Patras, Greece) and Vasilia Kourtis-Kazoullis (University of the Aegean, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8128-4.ch011
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Preparing teachers to assist linguistically and culturally diverse students to integrate is difficult as the paradigm is not limited to students but radiates outwards. Preparation of teachers in Greece has involved the incorporation of foreign languages and courses in multiculturalism in their program of study in an effort to promote multilingualism (ML), multicultural efficacy (ME), and intercultural sensitivity (IS). In this research brief, the authors attempt to look at how we prepare teachers to meet increased challenges migration of very different populations brings to their teaching as well as how their attitude toward multilingualism, ME, and IS may be interrelated. The study's main objectives are to measure this group's level of IS, ME, and multilingual language attitudes and examine their relationship. The goal is to determine how well equipped these pre-service teachers are to deal with the linguistically and culturally diverse student populations they will be called upon to teach and what facilitates them achieving this end.
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Over the last few decades, population mobility and movement from one country to another has resulted in linguistic and cultural diversity being much more visible. Many European countries which, in recent decades, welcomed moderate population migrations, now have an increasingly multicultural populace (Dobbernack & Modood, 2011; Turton & Gonźalez, 2000). This increased diversity visibility has, for many, been seen as constituting a positive outcome. However, this is not a universal phenomenon. Partly as a result of large refugee influxes as well as in conjunction with economic pressures on the middle class, there has been an up surge worldwide in the number of ethnocentric identity groups believing that people who are linguistically and culturally different from themselves constitute a negative influence, and therefore must be excluded. This change has led to societies having to face the reality that more efforts need to be made to counteract what some refer to as ethno-nationalist populism (Bonikowski, 2017). The question is what can we do to counteract the rise in diversity being seen constituting a negative influence?

Today, societies tend to be characterized by the increased movement of people from their point of origin to other places. Worldwide one notes that people are moving for a variety of reasons; some because they seek something new and thus choose to move and do so on their own terms. Others move because they have no other choice. In 2015, 4.7 million people immigrated to one of the 28 EU countries while another 2.8 million EU residents migrated out of EU states (Eurostat 2017). The number of immigrant and migrant family children attending schools throughout European countries has increased over the course of the last two decades.

Greece is an example of a country historically monolingual and monocultural, which gradually became more diverse because of the large number of migrants who came to stay in the 1990s and 2000s. These earlier immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, came seeking a better future. The Greek educational system put various policies and programs into place intended to assist in the education and ultimate integration of the new arrivals. These earlier arrivals have generally wanted to remain in Greece. Recently though, large numbers of refugees have arrived, who unlike former migrants, do not want to stay in the country. And yet because of EU policy, they cannot leave and even while wanting to learn other languages, seem reluctant to learn Greek, thus, adding contextual challenges to the entire process in terms of their integration and the pedagogy to be employed.

Educators are at the forefront of those tasked with dealing with the issues of immigrant and now refugee integration. They need to work effectively with linguistically and culturally diverse students. One of the issues, though, is that effective teaching does not always relate exclusively to teaching strategies and techniques, but one also must take into consideration issues of diversity, culture, language, sensitivity and efficacy. As a result, we posit that these complex factors need to be looked at and incorporated in primary school teacher preparation programs.

Looking at numbers in Greece prior to the economic crisis which began in 2007-8, of the over 10 million persons living in Greece more than 10% were of non-Greek heritage and in areas of Athens the percentage jumped to well over 50% with commensurate percentages related in the school age population with most arriving in the last 20 years (Spinthourakis & Katsillis, 2003). These changing classroom demographics have transformed them from a state of cultural and linguistic homogeneity to one, more markedly heterogeneous, and while recent numbers show the current non-Greek population has dropped to 6.6% (Triandafyllidou & Mantanika, 2016), these changes in demographics have not significantly changed the educational landscape.

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