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Décoloniser le multilinguisme à l’école française. Pour une pédagogie rhizomatique et transgressive



The refusal to seriously take into account the linguistic and cultural diversity of children as well as the hesitancy to address issues of otherness in French schools, and even more specifically in French schools in overseas territories is one of the main reasons for school underachievement. Therefore, in this chapter, I will argue for the conceptualisation of new ideological spaces for teachers to understand how they can legitimize the multilingual practices and diverse identities of plurilingual learners. My arguments are based on 1) recent research in sociolinguistics and applied linguistics which has described the normalisation of multilingualism in most schools around the world, and through the notion of pluriliteracy has questioned the traditional teaching of literacy, and 2), on research in education in the well-known domain of critical pedagogy where notions such as agency, empowerment and stance have moved the field of teacher education forward. Firstly, I consider the point made by Hélot and Erfurt (2016) in their pioneering volume on bilingual education in France, that bilingual education is first and foremost a political issue. Then, I review research which seeks to uncover the relationships of power that hold back the social transformation of marginalized speakers (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1970; Freire, 1970) and move to research published in English such as for example the work of Pennycook (2001, 2007), Cummins and Early (2011) and García (2009) who, beyond their interest in the contextualization of social literacies and multiliteracies (Street, 1997; Cope & Kalantsis, 2000; Fraenkel & Mbodj-Pouye, 2010), seek to rethink language education in terms of social justice. To add to his conceptual framework I integrate two further concepts, the concept of rhizome, which Deleuze and Guattari (1980) defined as a "machine of war" against hierarchical arborescence and binary thinking, and Glissant’s (2009) notion of a Poetics of the Diverse based on nomadism and opacity. My aim is to propose a new analysis of language, multilingual practices and pedagogical approaches in French neo-colonial educational settings, which could also be applied to classrooms in mainland France. I will explain why and how I am searching for theoretical concepts that seek to deconstruct the notions of nation on the one hand, and language on the other, thus questioning political and ideological borders and considering the concepts of languaging and translanguaging (Baker, 2001; García 2009) in relation to the notion of interlect, therefore also crossing epistemological borders. Indeed, the notion of interlect was developed in the Creole-speaking former colonies of La Martinique and La Reunion islands by Prudent (1981, 1993, 2005) who, at that time, started to question the notion of language and saw speakers’ repertoires as having an "internal dynamics" specific to a single "language complex". The logic of the concept of rhizome here, sheds light on the way discursive spaces are negotiated, unexpectedly and horizontally, sometimes underground, in order to combat dominant ideologies and the language doxa denounced by Foucault (1978/2004). The rhizomatic process will first be illustrated by several literary examples of melangue (Robert, 2004, 2014; Marimoutou, 2006) that highlight how the bilingual Creole - French speaker does not translate from one language to another but creates new meanings in context. This will allow me to move to the domain of language learning and teaching in order to imagine a pedagogy of social transformation, based on a reticular thought and the questioning of the binary diglossia model. My data is part of an ethnographic research carried out during language awareness (Perregaux et al., 2003) lessons in two classrooms situated in poor areas in La Reunion: a pre-primary class (5-6 years old) and a primary class (8-9 years old). The analysis of the verbal interactions between teacher and students will show how the understanding of the phenomena of language variation by young children generates the creation of transglossic spaces (García, 2014) where it becomes possible to welcome and reinforce all students’ language practices as well as their identities. These empirical examples will illustrate the conceptualization of a pedagogy which could be both rhizomatic (Amyot, 2007) and transgressive (Hooks, 1994; Pennycook, 2007; García, Flores & Woodley, 2012; Sultana, Dovchin & Pennycook, 2015) and which needs to be reinvented every day in multilingual classrooms through a permanent questioning of everything that is taken for granted. In doing so, I hope to reposition pedagogy as a thriving critical practice that deconstructs the ideologies generating exclusion, racism and glottophobic discrimination (Hélot & Young, 2006; Hélot, 2015; Blanchet, 2016; Laroussi, 2016; Prax-Dubois, 2018). My perspective is transcolonial (Trivedi, 1999; Rothman, 2012; Joubert, 2014) meaning that it raises, beyond the study of language phenomena, the crucial questions of the functions of human language and the domination through language of human beings, both in Creole-speaking spaces and elsewhere, indeed wherever colonial history has engendered and still generates new and different discursive practices.
Quand on sait que « la problématique de l’éducation bilingue en France est une question éminemment politique » (Erfurt & Hélot, 2016), dans quelle mesure l’avancée de la recherche attestant la fluidité et l’imprévisibilité des pratiques langagières de la plupart des locuteurs dans le monde et les bienfaits de l’éducation multilingue parvient-elle à franchir en France le portail des écoles et celui des établissements de formation des enseignants ? Pour répondre à ces interrogations, l’article aborde la problématique de la légitimation à l’école des stratégies et des savoirs langagiers des élèves plurilingues sous l’angle des pratiques plurilittéraciées et multimodales, champ de recherches nouveau en France, avant de la mettre en perspective avec une réflexion théorique empruntée à des travaux réalisés en pays créoles où les recherches déjà bien avancées sur l’interlecte, le rhizome et leur déclinaison littéraire du mélangue gagneraient à être mises en lien avec les études récentes françaises et anglophones sur les pratiques translangagières et l’agentivité des enseignants en contexte transcolonial. Dans un troisième temps, des exemples empiriques viendront étayer la présentation des grandes lignes d’une pédagogie rhizomatique (Amyot, 2003) et transgressive (Hooks, 1994 ; García, 2014) au service d’une éducation langagière inclusive adaptée aux enjeux communicatifs et éducatifs du 21ème siècle.
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hal-03917347 , version 1 (01-01-2023)



Pascale Prax-Dubois. Décoloniser le multilinguisme à l’école française. Pour une pédagogie rhizomatique et transgressive. Cahiers Internationaux de Sociolinguistique, 2019, N° 16 (2), pp.43-74. ⟨10.3917/cisl.1902.0043⟩. ⟨hal-03917347⟩
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