Integrating Language - Language for Integrating: Luxembourgish in Development within Pre-primary and Primary Schooling

Gudrun Ziegler, Charles Max

University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg

WS155: Renegotiating language policies and practices: multilingual Luxembourg in late modernity

Having the status of a 'national' language 'inter tres' (alongside French and German), but not inter pares since 1984, Luxembourgish interestingly leads a subliminal life as regards its mention within official documents concerned with state-related language-in-education policy. According to official documents, its very mentioning as "language of integration" - although very present and controversially discussed in the media (e.g., French vs. Luxembourgish as a requirement for accessing the labor market) - is to be found at the pre-primary level only, that is constraining all educational professionals to use Luxembourgish on an overall and omni-present basis for all interaction and instruction at this level of public schooling. However, primary school and beyond defines Luxembourgish - regarding official documents - only as an extra-curricular vernacular/vehicular with a minor place within curricula. Knowing that a mixed bag of facts is put forward in order to legitimize the obligation to use Luxembourgish at pre-primary level (e.g., the typological relation of Luxembourgish to German, with German being the only language of first literacy; the need to start early when learning a language) and acknowledging that up to 50 % of the children interact on behalf of at least one other variety at home or outside school, little is known so far about

a) the development of Luxembourgish with regard to plurilingual learning and

b) the very doings of the young interactants when managing all kinds of interactional endeavors within pre-primary schooling activities.

This paper then is concerned with the means young learners (age 3 - 6 years) put to action when engaging in an activity at hand such as joint set-up of a task or negotiating resources for play. More precisely, detailed analyses from a CA-for-Language-Acquisition-perspective based on the multi-modal PluChiLu corpus (Plurilingual Children in Luxembourg) focus on the emergence and the jointly mediated use of Luxembourgish in its development. Rather than being a response to the officially allocated educational obligation (against other ambient varieties or languages) findings point to the fact that Luxembourgish amongst pre-primary students is an issue of organizing and achieving locally constructed activities by the learners and relevant to the learners in terms of participation. Indeed, the official designation of Luxembourgish as the "language of integration" specifically for the youngest (only) seems - as revealed through the analysis of our data - to neglect precisely this: the agency of the young learners in and through their Luxembourgish in interaction as one relevant means-at-talk.

Session: Workshop (part 1)
Renegotiating language policies and practices: multilingual Luxembourg in late modernity
Friday, April 4, 2008, 10:30-12:00
room: 08