ERG SES H 02, Language and Education
History taught us that the inclusion of immigrant children and their languages within worldwide educational systems is not an easy task and that many immigrant children still underperform as compared to their native peers. In my master thesis, I examine a strategy called translanguaging.
The use of this strategy is related to the question of how to deal with the diversity of languages that immigrant children bring with them to the classroom. Translanguaging describes multilingual discourses as observed in informal reality, in which the borders between languages are fluid and changing and depending on the particular situation and speaking partner.
Using translanguaging as educational strategy implies that children should at some moments be allowed and encouraged to use their full linguistic repertoire, including their home languages. Translanguaging moves away from the traditional view that languages should be kept separate. Translanguaging supports the acceptance of multilingualism and minority languages that traditionally have less social power than majority languages in education. Translanguaging is associated with positive outcomes such as enhanced thinking power, deeper understanding, better mediation of meaning, and stronger multilingualism, as was partly corroborated in preliminary neuropsychological studies. Moreover, valorization of home languages may help students build identity. This positive identity construction may also have a positive influence on school results and better development of the schooling language.
Although translanguaging theoretically holds promise, especially in the current globalized world, it is also considered (too) ideological. Moreover, translanguaging is often associated with a burden of guilt of both students and teachers, because as a norm different languages should not be mixed, and still often the one-person-one-language approach is considered the gold standard.
Furthermore, as there are many different multilingual classrooms, translanguaging in education is not about a one-size-fits-all pedagogy. For instance, multilingual classrooms may vary with respect to, for instance, the amount of different mother tongues in a classroom, children’s proficiency in their different languages (e.g. different proficiency in home language and schooling language), children’s attitudes towards different languages, the willingness to learn a majority language, teacher proficiency in the various languages, language statuses and learning objectives.
So far, empirical research on teaching translanguaging is still in its infancy, especially with regard to the multilingual classroom. Large part of the studies into translanguaging primarily focus on the allocation of only two languages in bilingual classrooms. Therefore, in-depth research into how translanguaging could be taught in various contexts in linguistically highly heterogeneous classrooms is needed.
Therefore, the aim of my study is to investigate pedagogical principles for translanguaging and consequently, to examine their convergence with contextual constraints and opportunities as observed in different multilingual classrooms and multilingual children´s experiences. As such, guidelines for accurate contextualization of translanguaging practices in multilingual education can be generated.
My qualitatively studied research question about principles, constraints and opportunities of translanguaging as educational strategy is threefold:
RQ1: What are principles of a translanguaging pedagogy in different multilingual classrooms according to experts in multilingualism and language education and a systematic review of literature?
RQ2: What constraints and opportunities of the translanguaging pedagogy are observed
in four multilingual classrooms in diverse contexts?
RQ3: How would multilingual children, with different migration backgrounds, experience a translanguaging pedagogy?
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