Where two worlds meet: language policing in mainstream and complementary schools in England

Ian Cushing, Alexandra Georgiou, Petros Karatsareas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
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We compare language policing in two educational contexts in England: mainstream schools and complementary schools. We draw on a varied dataset (policy documents, in-class observations, interviews) collected from mainstream schools and Greek complementary schools in London. We find similarities in how the two types of schools control, regulate, monitor and suppress the language of school students. Both settings hierarchise standardised and non-standardised varieties in institutional policies that delegitimise the non-standardised varieties. Teachers become vehicles for language ideologies in enacting monovarietal policies drawing on discourses around academic success and the primacy of written language over spoken language, including regional varieties such as Cypriot Greek. Our findings suggest that multilingual and multidialectal students in England who attend both mainstream and complementary schools are exposed to similar kinds of prescriptive discourses across the whole spectrum of their educational experiences, which can have a range of negative effects on their learning and the construction of their self-image. We argue that more links need to be forged between the two educational settings and that these should include the development of integrated pedagogies and policies that legitimise students’ whole linguistic repertoires, encompassing both their standardised and their non-standardised varieties as well as their other linguistic resources.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
Early online date2 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2021


  • Language policing
  • mainstream schools
  • complementary schools
  • standard language ideologies

Research Centres

  • International Centre on Racism

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