Thesis (Ph.D)

Capitalising on linguistic diversity via a bidialectal intervention programme to improve linguistic performance and sociolinguistic awareness in two proximal varieties


Extensive theoretical and empirical research conducted in settings where proximal varieties are used simultaneously has highlighted the benefits associated with capitalising on linguistic diversity in education. In fact, long-standing research on bidialectal models of instruction which use the dialectal native variety in tandem with the standard language has shown that linguistic diversity, when recognised, respected and promoted, can improve students’ scholarly performance dramatically, while promoting social, cultural, pedagogical, cognitive and linguistic advancement. Yet, national policies on language and literacy curricula still reinforce approaches which favour the standard language(s), while linguistic bias and oppression still occur, even when bidialectal education policies are part of official language policies: evaluations on theoretically bilingual/bidialectal programmes point to covert monolingual/monodialectal aims, screening and assessment methods. Addressing a gap in research, this study seeks to examine how bidialectal education affects first (D1) and second (D2) dialect learning and whether there are differences in first dialect production between children who have received bidialectal schooling and children who have received monodialectal schooling. A partly experimental bidialectal intervention project was carried out in the bidialectal setting of Cyprus implementing a mixed methods design, with one hundred and nineteen (119) fifth-grade Greek-Cypriot primary school students divided into an experimental and a control group. Data collection took place twice via unstructured written and oral tasks in D1, the Cypriot Greek (CG) dialect, and D2, the Standard Modern Greek (SMG). The results of the intervention reiterated the benefits of bidialectal education for the maintenance and development of both first and second dialect. Experimental students showed increased ability to distinguish between their D1 and D2, which led to diminished dialectal interference in standard oral and written production and more register-appropriate dialect use in written dialect production. This study has both theoretical and practical educational implications. As regards its theoretical implications, the study proves that the meaningful co-existence of two or more languages or varieties in education not only does not hinder, but may well facilitate the learning of all varieties involved. As regards the implications of the study for educational practices, bidialectal language awareness methods can be incorporated in language teaching for the purpose of enhancing performance in the standard school variety while maintaining and promoting bidialectal learners’ performance in their native variety.

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Ayiomamitou, Ioli


Supervisors: Tsiplakou, Stavroula; Yiakoumetti, Andrie; Davies, Rob

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Education


Year: 2018

© Ayiomamitou, Ioli
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