‘It’s not from a textbook, it’s from your real life’

Teachers’ attitudes and personal practical knowledge regarding their students’ multilingualism in Israel


  • Mila Schwartz Oranim Academic College of Education
  • Michal Chana Segev Sacramento State School of Education




teachers’ agency, teachers’ attitudes, personal practical knowledge, immigrant experience, classroom multilingualism


This paper sets out to investigate teachers as agents in Israel, comparing Israeli born teachers with those who had past immigration experiences, regarding their attitudes toward multilingual students, personal practical knowledge and classroom practices in this field. In this study, we applied linguistic ethnography to elicit attitudinal and personal information from 20 inservice teachers. We collected participants’ data via semistructured interviews and entered additional (e.g., nonverbal) information in a researcher’s journal. We performed discourse analysis and thematic analysis to identify significant themes and indicate contributors to teachers’ agency. Data indicated attitudinal differences between immigrant and Israeli-born teachers. Immigrant teachers were found to possess personal practical knowledge that originated in their past immigration experiences. Based on this, they were able to form personal connections with immigrant students and employ diverse techniques that improved their teaching in multilingual classes. This study proposes a model of immigrant teachers’ agency shaped by teachers’ attitudes toward multilingual students in interaction with their personal practical knowledge and expressed in their classroom practices and affective behaviours. The conclusions from the study may contribute to developing teacher-training and innovative teaching techniques.

Author Biographies

Mila Schwartz, Oranim Academic College of Education

Mila Schwartz (PhD in Literacy Acquisition in Second Language, University of Haifa) is a Professor in Language and Education and Head of Research Authority in Oranim Academic College of Education (Israel). Her research interests include language policy and models of early bilingual education; linguistic, cognitive and sociocultural development of early sequential bilinguals; family language policy; and bilingual teachers’ pedagogical development.

Michal Chana Segev, Sacramento State School of Education

Michal Chana Segev is an EdD student at Sacramento State School of Education (USA). She specialises in working with learning-disabled students in K-5. Her main fields of interest include the learning-disabled child’s triad (family-child-school) and teachers’ attitudes, beliefs and knowledge regarding learning disabilities.


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How to Cite

Schwartz, M. ., & Segev, M. C. . (2021). ‘It’s not from a textbook, it’s from your real life’: Teachers’ attitudes and personal practical knowledge regarding their students’ multilingualism in Israel. Journal of Multilingual Theories and Practices, 2(1), 117–140. https://doi.org/10.1558/jmtp.18424