Canada Research Chair for School of Education’s Dr. Sunny Lau

Canada Research Chair for School of Education’s Dr. Sunny Lau

Integrated plurilingual teaching and learning 

Dr. Sunny Lau of Bishop’s University’s School of Education is awarded a Canada Research Chair to continue her work on plurilingual pedagogies, working with teachers to co-create teaching and learning conditions that promote the use of transferable strategies, metalinguistic awareness, intercultural education, and critical literacy learning. 

 Dr. Lau’s research highlights how language strategies used in one language can be applied in another language for more in-depth learning, and how this helps lessen the fear of acquiring a second or even third language. 

Dr. Lau’s research focus is especially relevant in a context where students’ mother tongue is neither English nor French and are rapidly increasing in the Eastern Townships and elsewhere. 

 “Many immigrant learners have competence in more than one language and culture, but these resources are often not being fully recognised and mobilized by teachers in language and content area classrooms,” argues Dr. Lau. “Most of these students are already plurilingual in the sense that they have competence in more than one language, and students are constantly making links to languages they know and use language strategies and learning strategies that they know to help themselves learn a new language.” 

Dr. Lau has previously worked with teachers in an Anglophone elementary school to integrate English and French second language (ESL and FSL) teaching and learning to achieve linguistic and cognitive coherence. Based on a year-long theme, the teachers read storybooks with children alternately in English and French to deepen their understanding. The English and French storybooks were different but shared similar themes that address social topics including poverty, homelessness, ablism, racism, to name a few. “When we teach languages in such a connected way, we are constantly building on what students already know and integrating concepts and ideas in a coherent way”, Dr. Lau explains. 

 Dr. Lau’s new Canada Research Chair on integrated plurilingual teaching and learning is another illustration of Bishop’s University’s commitment to   academic excellence and reflects on Bishop’s University’s focus on its local community, as it offers great potential for knowledge mobilization with education stakeholders locally and beyond. 



 Sonia Patenaude 

Communications Manager 

Bishop’s University