Publication Alert! Supporting multilingual learners in schools AND ethical publication practices (by Dr Jennifer Burton & Dr Jeff Bale)

This week’s special BILD post celebrates a recent publication whose ten authors include several BILD members and contributors. Click on their names to enjoy their past posts.

We are grateful to BILD to have the opportunity to share our recently published book Centering Multilingual Learners and Countering Raciolinguistic Ideologies in Teacher Education: Principles, Policies and Practices by Jeff Bale, Shakina Rajendram, Katie Brubacher, Mama Adobea Nii Owoo, Jennifer Burton, Wales Wong, Yiran Zhang, Elizabeth Jean Larson, Antoinette Gagné and Julie Kerekes. In this post, Jennifer and Jeff explain how the main contributions of a three-year multistrand research project which form the main content of the book contribute to the field of multilingual teacher education, specifically highlighting the ethics of publishing with 10 co-authors.

Photo of the front cover of the book. Cover image designed by Christian Faltis

Brief Overview of the Research Project

Responding to a 2015 policy change which required all teacher education programs in Ontario, Canada to provide curricular changes to support English Language Learners, the research objectives of our project were two-fold: First, to determine whether the policy is consistent with the diversity, strengths, and needs of multilingual learners. Second, to identify how teacher candidates, teacher educators, and practicing teachers in local boards interpret and enact the new policy requirements.

Meet Shazzy

As the title of our book suggests and in line with our goal to center multilingual learners, we begin with a brief self-introduction of Shazzy, a precocious seven-year old boy from South Asia, who is curious about different languages and cultures.

When asked about the languages he knows, Shazzy responds:

“I speak like a lot um different languages…I speak Bangla with my mom and dad and my family, my brother…And I speak the…I only say that Korean word to my friend. I speak Hindi to my friend too. And, I also have like… I also speak Pakistani language to some Pakistani peoples; there are a lots of them in Bangladesh. And, I understand a bit Urdu too because Hindi and Urdu are the same, a little bit…”

When describing his linguistic profiles activity, which indicates where languages live in the body, Shazzy holds up his drawing to the camera and introduces his portrait:   

“Hello guys, this is like my language picture. I wrote English in my hands because I write English a lot in school. I put English in my brain because I also talk English a lot in my school. I put Bangle because I speak Bangla with one of my friends – he’s Bangladeshi – in my school. I love Bangla it’s.. And that’s why it’s in my heart. Hindi, I could speak that’s why. Bangla I could also speak, English I could also speak. I like… I love Bangladeshi food, that’s why. And I put Korean out of my body because like I don’t… I only know one Korean word. When I… and when I s… I… when I like say like English I feel like white because I feel normal” 

Still image of Shazzy’s linguistic profile, “when I say like English I feel like white because I feel normal”

Shazzy was one of 36 people who participated in creating Me Map video profiles[1], which highlight the identities of multilingual learners as well as their experiences and perspectives on the world around them. Me Maps played a critical role in our study in expanding and shifting teacher candidates’ perceptions of multilingual learners. Rather than learning about multilingual learners, teacher candidates were learning from them as experts and teachers, which helped them to view multilingual learners as much more than their deficient English Language Learner status. In their profiles, multilingual learners in this study presented themselves as multilingual people with rich, complex linguistic and cultural repertoires, valuing learning languages, including French, to communicate with others, and having transnational migration experiences.

Shazzy’s opening vignette demonstrates one of the core contributions of our scholarship to teacher education and multilingualism. That is, the conflation of language and race–specifically English and whiteness–as the taken-for-granted, natural order of things, or in Shazzy’s words, feelings of normalcy. We use a theoretical framework that draws upon and synthesizes critical scholarship on race(ism), language, and teacher education to examine how racism and linguicism collaborate to shape the conditions under which teacher candidates learn how to teach. We present guiding principles and offer several teacher-education practices to dislodge the interplay of language and race that so deeply shapes teacher-candidates learning about multilingual learners.

A second main contribution of the book pertains to its analytic scope. Throughout the book, we zoom in on interviews with teacher-candidates or the major assignments (e.g. lesson plans) they created for the required course on Supporting English Language Learners in the teacher education program. We also provide close analysis of their learning based on Me Map videos we co-created with multilingual youth, in which they told us about themselves, their friends and family, their ambitions in school, and their languages and cultures. At other points in the book, we consider the 500+ responses we received from teacher candidates in our program on a pedagogical content-knowledge test about supporting multilingual learners. Complementing this broader perspective are interviews with ESL teachers and teacher-leaders, as well as teacher educators in Ontario’s other pre-service programs. Finally, we situate these various levels of analysis within a reading of the policies that govern teacher education in this province. The breadth of this research design allowed us to identify clear connections between different levels of policy appropriation: the policies themselves, teacher-education curriculum, course design, and the lived experiences of multilingual youth, teacher candidates, and teacher educators.

Research Design and Data Sources

The Ethics of Publishing

The final contribution of this study regards the ethics of publishing. Given that the entire research team was responsible for designing, conducting and analyzing the data for this complex study, the obvious choice (and the most ethical one!) was to honour this collective work by sharing in the writing of the book. The order of authorship reflects the intellectual and written contributions of the book. A few in-person brainstorming meetings occurred before the COVID pandemic, but the bulk of the writing took place online. This process was certainly complicated with 10 co-authors. Yet, we think the shift in tone, voice, and authorship contributed to a more expansive, personal and reflective piece—one that we are proud of! We are hopeful that our intellectual collaboration and collective authorship will help other researchers and research teams to think different about sharing their scholarship in the field.

Image of the authorship team who worked on the research project which forms the core of this book, some as faculty and some as doctoral researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

While we consider this approach to writing the book an important intervention, it was not without its challenges. We did not start this project with a clear theoretical framework guiding the work, which was pointed out to us by a conference discussant when we presented our preliminary findings. Even then, when the relationship between language and race became the primary focus, not all members of the research team agreed on this direction of the study. Furthermore, the research team did not—and still does not—view the relationship between language, race/racism, and teacher education in the same way. As Bale, Gagné and Kerekes (2019) argue in their analysis of interviews with the instructional staff of the Supporting English Language Learners course at the heart of this study, different political and pedagogical stances should not be considered a ‘problem’ to be ‘overcome’. Rather, they offer multiple perspectives on a given topic, allowing for more nuanced interpretations than a single stance might provide.

Another important, and at times complicated, issue related to editing. As we got into the chapter-writing process, we paid careful attention to issues of redundancy (had we addressed this topic elsewhere already?), relevance (is this topic better suited elsewhere?), and coherence (does this topic support the main arguments in this chapter)? At times, we were able to talk these questions through as chapter writing teams. At other times, especially as deadlines approached, Jeff had to make a call as the lead author, moving small sections around, striking small sections from chapters, or re-writing parts of the text. In a couple of cases, co-authors reached out to ask about the decisions Jeff made. There are likely other instances where Jeff’s decisions upset co-authors, but there was no conversation about it. At play were a number of perhaps contradictory goals: ensuring everyone had voice in the book and could represent their perspectives on and contributions to the study; crafting a coherent set of arguments (not one single one—that would not have been possible) that is legible to the reader; working across two continents during the early phases of the pandemic; and getting the book finished at all. The structure of Chapter 8 reflects our most explicit effort to straddle these contradictions: there is a single narrative complemented by multiple call-out boxes in which individual authors communicate their perspective on the most important implications of the study. 

Given the vast amount of data that this project generated, the researchers who participated in this project were also given the opportunity to use the data for their own dissertations or manuscripts. In fact, this was strongly encouraged, particularly for student researchers, as it is one of the perks of working on such a large project. To facilitate the process of dissemination a Guidelines for Data and Publication was created by Jeff and signed by all research team members. This document addressed issues of data ownership and management, authorship and acknowledgements, terminology, and confidentiality. This guide ultimately provided a working framework for researchers interested in framing and disseminating the results of the project in ways of their choosing. This approach has also been quite generative: Antoinette used the Me Maps idea created and developed by this project to secure a second SSHRC grant, extending this work to support refugee-background students recently arrived from Syria and Afghanistan (see the SAIRCY project); Jeannie designed an innovative validity study of the PeCK–LIT test instrument created for the project (Larson, 2022); and various combinations of co-authors have published multiple journal articles and chapters in edited books interpreting data from the project from multiple theoretical perspectives (e.g., Bale & Lackner, 2022; Burton et al., under review; Kerekes et al., 2021; Rajendram, Burton, Wong & Bale, 2022).

In highlighting the challenges we experienced working together as part of a large research team, we hope to make transparent the possibilities and benefits of collaborative student-faculty researcher relationships and equitable publication practices.

Finally, in addition to the research team, there was a huge number of people and institutional offices that supported this work. We wish to thank the following individuals:

A HUGE thank you to every individual that made this project and publication possible

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of the book, you may do so directly from the Multilingual Matters website. We hope you enjoy the read!

[1] Teacher educators may be interested in the free Me Mapping Activity Guide with activities, prompts, videos, and printable worksheets/handouts, which can be accessed at the following site.


Jennifer Burton is an Affiliate Member of BILD and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education, Applied Linguistics/TESOL Program at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. Her work examines how creative and critical multilingual pedagogies center students’ languages and lives.

Jeff Bale is an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada. His work explores language-education policy and teacher education.


Bale, J., & Lackner, L. (2023). Centering multilingual learners and countering racismin teacher education: A comparative analysis of research in Austria, Germany and Canada. In I. Mentor (Ed.), Palgrave Handbook of Teacher Education Research (pp. 1–26). Palgrave.  (published online July 2022)

Bale, J., Gagné, A., & Kerekes, J. (2019). Teacher educators’ perspectives on preparing mainstream teacher candidates for linguistically diverse classrooms. In J. Mueller and J. Nickel (Eds.),Globalization and Diversity in Education: What Does It Mean for Canadian Teacher Education? (pp. 238–267).Ottawa, ON: Canadian Association for Teacher Education.

Burton, J., Rajendram, S., & Wong, W. (under review). Preparing teacher candidates to support multilingual learners through critical multilingual language awareness and translanguaging in K–6 elementary classrooms. International Multilingual Research Journal.

Kerekes, J., Rajendram, S., Adjetey–Nii Owoo, M., Zhang, Y. (2021). Teachers’ takes on supporting multilingual learners in K–12 classrooms in Ontario. TESL Canada Journal, 38(1), 1–27.

Larson, E.J. (2022). Test Validation and Complex, Dynamic Systems:The Case of the Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Supporting English Learners Test (PeCKSELT). [Doctoral dissertation, University of Toronto].

Rajendram, S., Burton, J., Wong, W., & Bale, J. (2022). Examining teacher candidates’ pedagogical practices and stances towards translanguaging and multimodality in writing. Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 25(3), 33–65.

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