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Empowering Language and Learning with Muslim Immigrant Youth

Research on Preparing Inservice Teachers to Work Effectively with Emergent Bilinguals

ISBN: 978-1-78441-494-8, eISBN: 978-1-78441-493-1

Publication date: 3 February 2015


This chapter builds on theories of culturally responsive teaching and translanguaging pedagogies to explore teaching strategies that linguistically, culturally, and educationally empower Muslim immigrant emergent bilinguals in the classroom. These students are often speakers of less commonly used languages, not shared with other adults in the school, thus teachers and school leaders often do not know how to use home languages as teaching tools. This study sought to find practical solutions by going straight to the source – the students themselves. Through a one-year qualitative arts-based study, 15 recently arrived Muslim immigrants provided information about their language use and meaning-making of school experiences. Using interview, observation, and student-created artifacts, data were collected during after-school sessions that also included intensive group discussion and peer interviews in home languages. It was found that these students are facilitating and regulating their own bilingual and multilingual educations through cultural communities of practice. However, it was also found that these students perceived messages from the larger school community as discriminatory, thereby negatively impacting feelings of belonging and value in a school setting. One classroom where students and their languages were valued is profiled in this chapter offering practical ways teachers can engage learning through all languages, especially minority languages, regardless of a teacher’s own linguistic abilities. This chapter offers transferable ideas that may be adapted to diverse classrooms with similar student populations and needs. It is understood that classroom contexts differ based on resources, students’ home language literacy, and curricular demands.



Woodley, H.H. (2015), "Empowering Language and Learning with Muslim Immigrant Youth", Research on Preparing Inservice Teachers to Work Effectively with Emergent Bilinguals (Advances in Research on Teaching, Vol. 24), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 233-263.



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