Professional development programmes for teachers moving from majority to minoritised language medium education: Lessons from a comparative study

Joanna McPake, Wilson McLeod, Fiona O'Hanlon, Giovanna Fassetta, Mona Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Education through the medium of a minoritised language is widely regarded as a critical component of language revitalisation initiatives. Given the demographic and social position of many minoritised languages, however, it may not be easy to find teachers who are fluent and literate in the language, confident about using and teaching it, and prepared for the demands of working in classrooms where the language is the medium of instruction.

This article presents findings from a comparative study of teacher education programmes adopted in Catalonia, the Basque Autonomous Community, Wales and New Zealand, to prepare teachers to teach through the media of Catalan, Basque, Welsh and Māori respectively. The research was conducted to inform new professional development initiatives in Scotland, designed to enable qualified teachers to transfer from English-medium to Gaelic-medium education. The findings have wider relevance for other contexts in which the recruitment, professional development and retention of teachers to work in minoritised language medium education represent a challenge.

The article:
1)briefly reviews the policy and planning literature on minoritised language medium education, identifying teacher education for minoritised medium education as a significant research gap;
2)summarises the findings from the comparative study, focusing on decisive factors in creating and sustaining effective professional development programmes: critical mass of minoritised language speakers; popular support; significant funding; long-term vision; willingness to adapt and change;
3)identifies lessons for Scottish policy-makers and others currently developing minoritised language medium teacher education programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-105
Number of pages27
JournalLanguage Policy
Early online date22 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • minoritised language medium education
  • teacher education and professional development
  • Scottish Gaelic
  • Basque
  • Catalan
  • Māori
  • Welsh


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