Co-creating spaces
for multilingual practices
in Turkey’s state-run, monolingual
educational system
4th International Conference on Language and Education
6-8 November 2013
Müge Ayan Ceyhan
İstanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi
Center for Sociology and Education Studies
Co-creating spaces for multilingual practices
in Turkey’s state-run, monolingual educational system
What kind of a MTB-MLE?
combating discrimination
opening up spaces for the construction of a
more just society
Focus of the talk:
enabling potentials of MTB-MLE from a
sociological perspective
peaceful coexistence of different groups
Context: Turkey
Existence of all groups except Sunni, Muslim, Turks
1920s: Foundation of of the Turkish Republic
multilingual country with restrictive language policy
Article 42 of Constitution: prohibits the teaching of any
language other than Turkish as mother tongue
Peace Treaty of Lausanne: Geerk-Othodoxes, Armenians,
Jews—right to found their own schools
 Restricting
Potential for discrimination
Social groups see the visibility of differences as a threat
‘national unity’ / ’social cohesion’
 Enabling
Potential for social justice
Recent interest in prejudices, stereotypes and
Confronting the past
How to actualise the enabling potential of
anti-discriminatory, transformative MTB-MLE
MTB-MLE  opens up a space to combat
Given that it is carried out under certain
Reversing negative representation of
Recognising, acknowledging and
compensating for asymetrical, unequal
language relationships (Hornberger, 2003)
Lack of (or negative) representation of all
peoples/groups except Sunni, Muslim, Turks
eg 1: Kürt Teali Cemiyeti listed under ‘Dangerous
eg 2: Denial of Armenian genocide
This negative representation needs to be
Breaking down prejudices and
negative stereotypes
Ethnographic data from LAS Research
1500 of the pupils in school are Kurds. [...] There are not any normal
Turkish citizens. Before it was only 5 or 6 out of 40 pupils who were
Kurds. Now Kurdish speaking has become a babble. [...] The other
day, finally I hit the desk with my fist and said: ‘My son, speak
Turkish for once!’
(Ayan Ceyhan and Koçbaş, 2011)
Transforming dominant group’s
MTB-MLE does not only have the potential
to restore and empower historically
oppressed , minoritised, non-dominant
groups but also:
transforming the minds of
dominant groups
Spaces in which pupils resist
discriminatory practices
Ethnographic data from LAS Research
Which language?
(Ayan Ceyhan and Koçbaş, 2011)
Language hierarchy
Narrative from
‘Scar of Tongue’,
Diyarbakır Institute for Political and Social
‘My mother spoke French.’
(Coşkun, Derince and Uçarlar, 2010)
learns to be ashamed of their mother tongue.
2.Children learn language hierarchy.
3.Peoples living on the same soil do not know each other’s
MTB-MLE enabling potentials
Creates social contact familiarity
with each other language and culture
(Aboud and Levy, 2000)
Visibility of languages and cultures
Empower non-dominant groups
Transform minds of dominant groups
Thank you.

Relationship between school practices and pupils’ …