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Navigating Multilingualism: Migrant Students' Linguistic and Cultural Identities in the Classroom

Even though migration has been a longstanding historical phenomenon, recent years have witnessed an unparalleled surge in refugees, primarily due to wars. This influx has led to the convergence of diverse groups of people and languages, resulting in superdiversity within societies and educational environment.

The migrant students not only encounter the task of grasping new material in an unfamiliar language but also need to navigate their own language identities within the classroom. How migrant students navigate their language identities can significantly influence their overall educational journey. To establish an inclusive and supportive learning atmosphere, it's essential for educators to recognize and honor the language identities of migrant students. Educators should aim to foster a classroom environment that appreciates and esteems the linguistic diversity brought by migrant students. Through these efforts, educators can empower them to embrace their multilingualism and cultivate a positive self-image as language learners. Encouraging reflection and open discussions about their language experiences can assist migrant students in understanding their linguistic path and building a stronger sense of self and belonging in the classroom.

Moreover, educators should be mindful of the distinctive hurdles that migrant students encounter beyond the confines of the classroom. These challenges encompass cultural adaptation, language acquisition or improvement, social integration, and the cultivation of self-efficacy. By understanding these challenges and offering appropriate assistance, educators can assist migrant students in navigating their multilingualism more effectively, fostering both their academic and socioemotional growth. To effectively aid migrant students in navigating their multilingualism, educators should actively seek bilingual resources and instructional approaches that honor and integrate students' native languages and cultures. This proactive approach enables educators to establish a more inclusive and fair learning environment that upholds the linguistic and cultural identities of their migrant students. To sum up, the experience of crossing borders, the richness of linguistic diversity, and the distinct challenges faced by migrant students present opportunities for educators to construct inclusive classrooms that celebrate multilingualism, nurture positive language identities, and support the holistic development of migrant students. 

It's essential to find effective strategies that support the language identities of students. One potential approach is adopting Linguistically Sensitive Teaching, which embraces and acknowledges the linguistic diversity within the classroom. Through this method, educators can assist students in establishing connections between their native languages and the language of instruction. This, in turn, facilitates the language learning process and empowers students to leverage their entire linguistic repertoire. Additionally, Linguistically Sensitive Teaching plays a role in cultivating a sense of belonging and validation for multilingual students by recognizing and appreciating their language identities and cultural backgrounds.

To conclude, it is crucial for teachers to continuously enhance their knowledge, skills, and attitudes to effectively meet the needs of linguistically and culturally diverse learners. Also, they should embrace a comprehensive approach that appreciates and backs the linguistic and cultural variety present in migrant students. This approach involves nurturing their language growth, cultivating positive language identities, and offering suitable support for their overall academic and socioemotional advancement. Through these efforts, educators can ensure that migrant students feel esteemed and supported throughout their educational experience, enhance their language proficiency, and enhance their overall well-being.


Aguirre, L. I., van der Worp, K., Saragueta, E., Galdos, O., & Gaspar, A. (2021). Linguistically Sensitive Teaching in a Multilingual Context: Perceptions of Pre-Service Teachers of the Basque Autonomous Community. Sustainable Multilingualism, 18(1), 45–70.

Starr-Glass, D. (2014). Internalizing cross-cultural sensitivity: reflective journals of migrant students. Journal of International Education in Business, 7(1), 31–46.

Stavrakaki, A., & Manoli, P. (2023). Exploring Migrant Students’ Attitudes towards Their Multilingual Identities through Language Portraits. Societies, 13(7), 153–153.

Uibu, K., & Tagamets, E. (2022). PROMOTING TEACHERS’ INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCES FOR TEACHING IN THE DIVERSE CLASSROOM. Education and New Developments 2022 – Volume 2.

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