Community language teachers’ funds of knowledge

Year: 2021

Author: Qi, Jing

Type of paper: Individual Paper

Community language schools have grown rapidly to accommodate an increasing number of learners globally. Teacher development for community languages remains under-researched and existing studies underscore a deficit view of the teachers. This study uses teacher surveys, teacher journals and researcher observation to understand the background, experience and knowledge of 70 community language teachers of 15 languages in Victoria, Australia. Theoretically driven by the funds of knowledge approach, this study explores two research questions: what domains of knowledge do community language teachers possess? How do they use this knowledge when teaching in community language schools? Findings show that community language teachers possess five domains of funds of knowledge: personal, interpersonal and community knowledge; intercultural understanding; inter-schooling understanding; understanding about learning; and disciplinary, professional, and occupational knowledge. We discuss the multiple ways that teacher funds of knowledge inform their teaching, with a focus upon the transferability of their funds of knowledge to community school settings. We argue that professional development approaches for community language teachers need to build upon both specific and broad transfers of their funds of knowledge.