Toward equitable education in the context of a pandemic: Supporting linguistic minority students during remote learning

Tae Hee CHOI, Ming Ming CHIU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - Without universal access to a Covid-19 vaccine, many countries seek to prevent coronavirus outbreaks by closing schools and having students learn remotely. This study aims to examine its challenges for linguistic minority (LM) students and some practical strategies – both generally for all students and specifically for LM students.
Design/methodology/approach - This study synthesises the research literature and practices across countries on equity and remote learning. It helps (1) understand the differential difficulties during an epidemic across primary, secondary and tertiary school students, especially LM students from low socioeconomic status (SES) families who lack economic, human, cultural or social capital in family or school contexts, based on Bourdieu's theory, and (2) identify additional resources and flexible, creative solutions for improving access and learning conditions for LM students. The authors discuss examples from 13 countries and territories (including developed and developing economies) of transformations of in-class learning to online learning in part or whole.
Findings - The limited economic, cultural and social capital of LM students, especially from low SES families, and their schools, along with communication barriers hinder their remote learning. Crisis-induced school budget shortfalls require creative ways to transition teachers, students and parents to remote learning and to provide customised support for LM students. Schools can (1) partner with non-governmental organisations, religious organisations, businesses and government services to access/share remote learning resources for LM students; (2) help teachers, students and parents develop needed skills (via online systems, peer support groups and hotlines); (3) restructure teacher lessons and duties for remote teaching; and (4) capitalise on technology (e.g. texts, chats, whiteboards) to support LM students' remote learning – some of which can exceed their traditional face-to-face learning experiences.
Originality/value - This article is among the first to examine how the Covid-19 crisis disproportionately affects the remote learning of LM students, to specify effective, practical remedies and to inform suitable education and social policies across countries. Copyright © 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-22
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Education and Development
Issue number1
Early online date23 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


Choi, T.-H., & Chiu, M. M. (2021). Toward equitable education in the context of a pandemic: Supporting linguistic minority students during remote learning. International Journal of Comparative Education and Development, 23(1), 14-22. doi: 10.1108/IJCED-10-2020-0065


  • Coronavirus/COVID-19
  • Capital (economic, cultural, social)
  • Equity
  • Language minority students
  • Remote learning
  • Online learning


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