Unit 1: Defining English
This unit introduces the idea of alternative monolithic and plurilithic conceptions of English.
- 1.0 Introduction
- 1.1 Monolithic vs Plurilithic Concepts
- 1.1.1 Monolithic Concepts of Language
- 1.1.2 Plurilithic Concepts of Language
- 1.2 ‘Standard English’
- 1.2.1 ‘Standard English’: History
- 1.2.2 ‘Standard English’: Beliefs
- 1.2.3 Advantages and Disadvantages of ‘Standard English’ for ELT
- 1.3 Rules of English
- 1.3.1 The ambiguity of the word rule
- 1.3.2 Rules of English: The Monolithic View
- 1.3.3 Rules of English: The Plurilithic View
- 1.4 Four Dimensions of Monolithism
- 1.5 Check Your Understanding
- 1.6 Reflect and Discuss
Unit 2: Using English
This unit explores the plurilithic usage of English in diverse global settings.
- Unit 2: Using English
- 2.1 Introducing Lingua Franca Usage
- 2.2.1 Native speaker Variation
- 2.2.2 Native speakers: Accommodation
- 2.3 Englishes in the British Isles
- 2.4 World Englishes
- 2.4.1 Englishes in Your Part of The World
- 2.4.2 Owning a language (Part 1)
- 2.5 ELF
- 2.5.1 Intelligibility
- 2.5.2 ELF in Your Part of The World
- 2.6 Translanguaging with English
- 2.7 Check Your Understanding
- 2.8 Reflect and Discuss
Unit 3: Learning English
This unit discusses how English is learned as a first or additional language.
- Unit 3: Learning English
- 3.1 First Language Acquisition
- 3.2 Back to Rules
- 3.2.1 Rules as Patterns in the Mind (Part 1)
- 3.2.2 Rules as Social Markers
- 3.2.3 Rules as Mental Representations
- 3.2.4 Rules in Schools
- 3.2.5 Rules as Patterns in the Mind (2)
- 3.3 Models and Targets
- 3.4 Learning Contexts
- 3.5 Owning a Language (Part 2)
- 3.6 Learners and Users
- 3.7 Check Your Understanding
- 3.8 Reflect and Discuss
Unit 4: Teaching English
This unit examines the teaching implications of plurilithic conceptions of English.
Unit 5: Changing English
This unit suggests ways to share your learning on the course with others.
- Unit 5: Changing English
- 5.1 The Challenge
- 5.2 Changing Learners’ Beliefs About English
- 5.3 Changing Teaching Colleagues’ Beliefs About English
- 5.4 Changing Policy-Makers’ Beliefs About English
- 5.5 Changing the Public’s Beliefs About English
- 5.6 Check Your Understanding
- 5.7 Reflect and Discuss
- Course Finish
2.6 Translanguaging with English
Translanguaging is the effective use of all one’s languages
In real interaction, multilingual people use all their linguistic resources to get things done effectively.
This process has been called translanguaging (García and Li Wei, 2014); incorporating the idea of languaging, a term which makes language a verb (Joseph, 2002). Languaging is a social process, encompassing all the linguistic interactions we engage in to continuously create and shape meaning through our experiences. Accordingly, translanguaging means moving across languages to achieve effective interaction.
Translanguaging is actually a normal, everyday activity for billions of people around the world, including most users of English.
Here’s an example from Singapore, in which Seetoh, whose husband has recently died, converses with Jamie, an old friend (as reported and analysed in Li Wei, 2018). Note how the interlocutors interact fluently and naturally in seven different language/varieties:
Seetoh: Aiyoh (discourse particle), we are all <ka ki nang> (自己人 = own people, meaning ‘friends’), bian khe khi (免客气 = don't mention it). Ren lai jiu hao (人来就好 = good of you to come), why bring so many “barang” (things). Paiseh (歹劳 = I'm embarrassed). ‘Nei chan hai yau sum’ (你真有心 = you are so considerate). Jamie: Don’t say until like that. Now, you make me “malu” (shame) only. You look after my daughter for so many years, mei you gong lao ye you ku lao (没有功劳也有苦劳 = you have done hard work even if you don't want a prize). I feel so bad that I could not come earlier. ‘Mm hou yi si’ (不好意思 = I'm embarrassed). I was so shocked to hear about Seetoh, tsou lang ham (做人 ham ham—meaning life is unpredictable), jie ai shun bian. (节哀顺变 = hope you will restrain your grief and go along with the changes) Seetoh: ta lin zou de shi hou hai zai gua nian (他临走的时候还在挂念 = He was thinking of Natalie before he passed away) Natalie (Jamie’s daughter). […]
Because translanguaging focuses on meaning, and challenges the idea of languages having fixed borders which shouldn’t be crossed in practice, it is very consistent with the plurilithic view of English as a resource with fuzzy boundaries, mixing freely with individuals’ other languages.
In education, the concept of translanguaging is used in multilingual contexts, addressing meaning-making interactions within a classroom. It gives bilingual and multilingual learners and users the opportunity to employ their full linguistic repertoire in order to express themselves. In other words, translanguaging allows learners to communicate effectively in class by using different languages for different purposes. For example, learners might speak about a class topic in Spanish, but write something about it in English; or, they might approach a text by reading it in English, but have a discussion about it in Spanish. As Ofelia García says in this interview:
- “Only by drawing from their entire language repertoire will bilingual students be able to demonstrate what they know, and especially what they can do with language.”
The emphasis on performing bilingually in the classroom not only helps learners gain greater understanding of the content being studied, but it also helps make them feel more integrated in the classroom by bridging the language they use at home with the one used at school. In addition to language development, translanguaging promotes language equality and can boost a learner’s self-esteem in the process of language learning.
Your learners are not the only ones who can adopt translanguaging. You as teachers can also use it as part of your pedagogical practices, regardless of whether you are a monolingual or bilingual teacher.
Translanguaging in your part of the world
Is translanguaging used in your part of the world? Have you ever used it? If not, think about ways in which you could use it in your context and how it might benefit your students.
How might you use translanguaging if you are a monolingual teacher or if you speak several languages but not those of your students?
Language learners can work collaboratively to produce language. They could work on a given text by interpreting it, providing a collaborative translation and then open it to discussion.
Reviewing past lessons in the student’s home language can help (re-)activate that knowledge and thus make the learner more prepared to understand new concepts that will be presented in the second language.
When a teacher makes an effort to use their students’ first language, it encourages the students to try to use English in turn. If you do not know your students’ first language(s), try learning some key phrases to help interaction and build trust. You can use tools like Google Translate or ask students to volunteer the terms.
Reflect on your understanding of translanguaging. What questions about the phenomenon do you have for teachers from your region and/or other parts of the world? Ask your questions (and answers ones that others have posed if you can) here.