Challenges and opportunities in implementing a multilingual teacher education curriculum: a focus on educators’ experiences

Presenters: Lukas Bleichenbacher, Anna Schröder-Sura; Mara De Zanet

Affiliation: University of St. Gallen, Switzerland; St. Gallen University of Teacher Education

Chosen format: Presentation


In our contribution, we discuss the challenges and opportunities involved with the role of lecturers in (foreign) language education to implement an intensively multilingual curriculum for lower secondary teachers. The local context is German-speaking Switzerland, which has sometimes been considered a model case for the implementation of plurilingual curricula with an adequate balance between the national languages and English. As one of many innovative measures contributing to plurilingual, diverse and inclusive language learning and teaching, teacher education universities across Switzerland have introduced offers of courses where students are mixed across target languages. Since this entails exposing students to content from languages other than their (often single) target language(s), reactions among students and lecturers have ranged from acceptance to skepticism.

The curricular reform under scrutiny is most intensively cross-linguistic offer for lower secondary teachers to date in Switzerland. 50% of the courses to qualify for a foreign language subject are taught in a mixed setting, catering for – and taught in – two major and one minor target language (English, French and Italian), with plans to systematically integrate the language of schooling, migrant languages, and the fourth (minority) national language, Romansh. The student teachers engage with key aspects of plurilingual methodology based on the plural approaches outlined in FREPA/CARAP (Candelier et al., 2012) in their pedagogical content and knowledge modules, and develop content-related competences in a manner inspired by disciplines such as comparative linguistics and literature/culture. The diverse linguistic profiles of both lecturers and students result in opportunities, but also challenges, as they make use of intercomprehension, mediation and code-switching / translanguaging strategies when negotiating meaning in their courses.

The study makes use of content and critical discourse analysis of lecturers’ reflections on their experiences during the first three years in the new curriculum, compiled via an online questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. The data was coded in a deductive-inductive approach based on models of teachers’/lecturers’ attitudes (c.f. Manno, 2022) and professional competences.



Candelier, Michel et al. 2012. FREPA- A framework of reference for pluralistic approaches to languages and cultures: competences and resources. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

Manno, Giuseppe. “Überzeugungen von Lehrpersonen über die Mehrsprachigkeitsdidaktik in der Schweizer Volksschule: eine Zwischenbilanz im Rahmen der Umsetzung der Fremdsprachenreform”, in: Corinna Koch/Michaela Rückl (eds.): Au carrefour de langues et de cultures : Mehrsprachigkeit und Mehrkulturalität im Französischunterricht. Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag, 127-146

Presentation slides:

2209_Bleichenbacher Schröder-Sura De Zanet Teacup