Research group Multilingualism on my mind
Doctoral defense

Raees Calafato's PhD defense

Raees Calafato will defend his doctoral dissertation “Multilingual pedagogy in Norway and Russia" on 17.9.2021 at the University of Bergen for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

PhD defense by Raees Calafato will take place on 17 September 2021
Irina Tiurikova

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A member of our research group, Raees Calafato, will defend his doctoral dissertation “Multilingual pedagogy in Norway and Russia" on 17 September 2021. In his dissertation, Calafato presents a mixed-methods study in which he explored the multilingualism of language teachers in Norwegian and Russian secondary schools, their beliefs regarding their and their students’ multilingualism, and the extent to which they drew on a multilingual pedagogy when teaching. The study distinguishes itself from previous studies in several ways. First, it had a diverse participant sample, comprising teachers of Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, many of whom were teaching two or more languages concurrently. Secondly, it explored several micro-, meso-, and macro- level variables as part of its research focus, including the participants' use of the languages ​​they taught outside of work, their level of multilingualism, the combination of languages ​​they knew, and the extent to which their schools, colleagues, students, and the government influenced their implementation of a multilingual pedagogy. Thirdly, the study led to the creation of a questionnaire that measures language teacher multilingualism, including their implementation of a multilingual pedagogy, through a collaborative effort involving multilingual researchers and teachers from around the world. Calafato published five articles as part of the study, with each exploring various aspects of teacher multilingualism. 

Calafato’s study comes as many countries around the world have started to promote multilingualism through language initiatives in schools and universities, and as classrooms become ever more linguistically and culturally diverse (concerning both teachers and students). These developments have necessitated a reconceptualization of language learners and teachers. The findings from Calafato’s study indicate that language teachers have a complex relationship with the languages ​​they teach, especially when they teach multiple languages. This relationship, more than their beliefs regarding their students’ multilingualism or the extent to which governments or society support multilingualism, ultimately determines the degree to which they are willing and able to draw on their and students' multilingualism as a resource when teaching (i.e., implement a multilingual pedagogy). The study’s findings underscore the need for schools and policymakers in Norway and Russia (and beyond) to engage more deeply with language teachers, seeing them not as mere executors of a given curriculum, but as complex language users who require support and education beyond the merely pedagogical to thrive in a way that authentically reflects their multilingualism and associated skillset.

The Doctoral defense will take place on 17 September at 9:30 (Sydneshaugen skule – Aud. E). Dissertation title: "Multilingual Pedagogy in Norway and Russia: Language Teacher Identity and Associated Practices".


  1. Associate Professor Agnieszka Otwinowska-Kasztelanic, University of Warsaw
  2. Professor Anna Krulatz, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

The chair of the committee is Professor Tony Burner, University of Southeast Norway. Professor Aud Solbjørg Skulstad will lead the disputas.

The trial lecture will take place on 16 September at 16:30 (Sydneshaugen skule, Aud. E). Topic: "The multilingual language user: The evolution of the notion and its implications for foreign language teaching and learning"

Both events will also be open digitally via Zoom.