Enhancing participation through translanguaging: home languages as a resource in basic literacy training
In recent years, participation and empowerment have become important organizing values within the field of second language learning and teaching. Different kinds of participatory methods and using students’ home languages as pedagogical resources are seen to empower those that use minority languages and to enhance integration of those that have immigrant background. One of the central concepts belonging to this perspective is translanguaging, the idea that for multilingual individuals, different languages provide a bank of resources that is often flexibly utilized in interaction in ways that go beyond the traditional borders of named languages.
With material collected from adult basic literacy classrooms, I illustrate the breadth of practices that can be called translanguaging and discuss how the perspective differs from earlier viewpoints to multilingualism. I also talk about the pedagogical potential and benefits of translanguaging especially in contexts where the students’ previous educational background and literacy skills might be limited. I argue that, although language choices in multilingual classrooms are often a complex issue, translanguaging can be a pedagogical resource that can both enhance learning and students’ participation.
Irina Piippo, PhD is a researcher at the Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Helsinki. Her current research examines second language socialization especially in Arabic-speaking diaspora in Helsinki metropolitan area.