Lessons learned from immersion in western Canada’s multilingual and multicultural post-secondary context across the disciplines


  • Valia Spiliotopoulos Simon Fraser University




The current educational context in post-secondary institutions world-wide is characterized by a widening participation agenda, and is greatly impacted by trends in globalization and internationalization (Burbules & Torres, 2000, Ilieva, Beck, & Waterstone, 2014).  This multilingual and multicultural educational context brings about many opportunities and challenges for students, faculty, and other internal and external stakeholders (Arkoudis et al, 2012; Hafernick & Wiant, 2012; Murray, 2016). Given Canada’s increasing involvement in offering programs predominantly in English to international, transnational, and bi/plurlilingal domestic students, it is important to examine the lessons learned from Canada’s history with immersion (Cummins, 1998).   and consider the implications for the post-secondary context (Knoerr, et al. 2016). To that end, it is perhaps time to reconsider language education policies, re-examine how language is used as a medium of instruction, redesign curriculum and instruction, as well as understand how students’ bi/plurlingualism can serve as an additional resource for learning across the disciplines (Camarata, 2016; Coste, Moore & Zarate, 2009;  Cummins, 2007; Marshall and Moore, 2013).


This article describes the educational development and scholarly activities of a Centre for English Language Learning Teaching, and Research at a comprehensive university in British Columbia, and shares emergent findings of a case study and pilot projects in which faculty in applied linguistics/language education collaborate with faculty across the disciplines to support students’ English language development alongside their disciplinary knowledge and literacy skills at the curricular, instructional, and assessment levels. Key practices and approaches in university French immersion education will be compared and contrasted with Content-based/‘CLIL’ and plurilingual approaches used by language education faculty working alongside disciplinary faculty in order to support students at the curricular core within programs where English is the language of instruction. 

Author Biography

Valia Spiliotopoulos, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Valia Spiliotopoulos is the Academic Director for the Centre for English Language Learning, Teaching, and Research and Associate Professor of Professional Practice in the Faculty of Education.  Her research interests are in the area of academic language and literacies development across the disciplines in K-12 and higher education (both in English and French), faculty and instructional development in multilingual and multicultural contexts, language teacher education, and educational assessment.