Vocational teachers as policy actors

“Multilingualism as a resource” in Norwegian vocational education


  • Mari J. Wikhaug Andersen MultiLing, Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies, University of Oslo


Vocational education, multilingualism, policy enactment, VET teachers, linguistic ethnography, curriculum


Linguistic diversity has become a focus in the Norwegian National Curriculum (LK20), which establishes students experiencing “multilingualism as a resource” as a policy intention. This study explores if and how this policy intention corresponds with teachers’ experiences and practices in mainstream vocational education and training (VET). Using the concept of policy enactment developed by Ball et al. (2012) as a theoretical and analytical framework, I analyze the curricular aims set by the LK20 Core Curriculum and a subject-specific VET curriculum, comparing them to the teaching practices reflected in interview data gathered through linguistic ethnographic fieldwork in mainstream Norwegian VET programs in 2020 and 2021. My findings show that (a) the National Curriculum positions vocational teachers as subject-specific, mainly Norwegian-oriented language teachers held to ensure the enactment of “multilingualism as a resource”, even though most vocational teachers are not trained in language education, and that (b) vocational teachers act as interpreters, translators, and relatively passive receivers of language-related policies, also frequently assuming critical positions towards these policies and some organizational features of the educational institution. The study highlights the ambiguous and challenging positions vocational teachers find themselves in, emphasize the necessity of more multilingually-oriented approaches to mainstream vocational education, and show that for language-related policy intentions like “multilingualism as a resource” to be enacted, it is imperative to provide policy actors like vocational teachers with sufficient suitable resources.



2024-06-09 — Updated on 2024-06-10


How to Cite

Andersen, M. J. W. (2024). Vocational teachers as policy actors : “Multilingualism as a resource” in Norwegian vocational education. Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies, 18(1), 135–157. https://doi.org/10.47862/apples.136338 (Original work published June 9, 2024)