Innovative Features of a Plurilingual Approach in Language Teaching

Implications from the LINCDIRE Project


  • Enrica Piccardo University of Toronto
  • Marina Antony-Newman University College London Institute of Education
  • Le Chen OISE, University of Toronto
  • Banafsheh Karamifar University of Ottawa


pedagogical innovation, plurilingualism, pluriculturalism, action-oriented tasks, mediation


Language teaching methodologies over the past decade have been gradually moving towards more plurilingual approaches to language teaching (Conteh & Meier, 2014; May, 2014; Taylor & Snoddon, 2013; Lau & Van Viegen, 2020). The call for a multi/plurilingual turn in language education marks the move from language separation to integration of languages in the classroom. In turn, this has been accompanied by the emergence of innovative action-oriented and task-based approaches (Author, 2019; Author, in press; van den Branden, et al., 2009). These important developments may raise ambivalent responses, especially in contexts embracing more traditional approaches to language teaching. To address this ambivalence, this article aims to present the successes of a plurilingual action-oriented approach and outline its innovative features. We present data from multiphase, mixed methods research study (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011) involving 140 participants (25 teachers; 115 students) from a range of culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms represented by nine languages. The results of the data analysis suggest a number of successful and challenging areas within the project. Defining the innovative features of the adopted methodology and examining ways they were implemented by teachers and embraced by students, we outline the most effective aspects of the research project. Building on a broad view of mediation that encompasses the Vygotskian concept (Lantolf et al., 2015) expanded through an embodied and enactive view of cognition (Love, 2014 ) and the cyclical intersubjective process that characterizes human agency (Author, in press; Raimondi, 2014), while taking into account a set of recently developed mediation descriptors (Council of Europe, 2020), we provided both a conceptual and practical frame for the innovative action-oriented tasks, connection of language and culture, and integration of online and in-class learning via the digital platform LITE (Language Integration Through E-portfolio). Finally, we discuss implications from the LINCDIRE project for teachers, administrators, and policy-makers.

Author Biographies

Enrica Piccardo, University of Toronto

Enrica Piccardo, PhD is a Professor of Applied Linguistics and Language Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto and director of the Centre for Educational research in Languages and Literacies (CERLL). A collaborator with the Council of Europe (CoE) since 2008 and Co-author of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) Companion Volume (Council of Europe, 2020), she has coordinated international research projects on language teaching innovation and teacher education in Canada and Europe. Her research spans language teaching approaches/curricula, multi/plurilingualism, creativity and complexity in language education.

Marina Antony-Newman, University College London Institute of Education

Marina Antony-Newman is a doctoral student at the University College London (UCL) Institute of Education in the department of Culture, Communication and Media. She holds an MA in Language and Literacies Education from OISE, University of Toronto. Marina has extensive experience in the field of EFL and ESL teaching and language assessment, and her research interests include language policy, literacy development, and plurilingualism.

Le Chen, OISE, University of Toronto

Dr. Le Chen is a postdoctoral fellow at OISE, University of Toronto. Le has extensive experience in teaching academic English courses and English teacher training courses. She holds a PhD in Education with a specialization in Applied Linguistics and her research interests include plurilingualism, multiliteracies, and language policy.

Banafsheh Karamifar, University of Ottawa

Banafsheh Karamifar, PhD, is a contract faculty and researcher in Integration of Technology in Education and Second Language Teaching at Faculty of Eduction, University of Ottawa. Her research interests include critical discourse analysis and society, qualitative research methods, curricular innovation and technology-enhanced language education. Banaf has extensive experience with French language teaching. She has contributed to the design and development of hybrid and online French as a Second Language curricula for the government's employees and the immigrants' community in Canada. She also provides consultations for language teachers education at The Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks (CCLB).