Translanguaging: Teaching and Learning in the City

Panel leader: Angela Creese, University of Birmingham, UK

The concept of translanguaging emerged first in contexts of schooling, and has had most purchase in challenging pedagogies which view languages as ‘two solitudes’ (Cummins 2008), always to be kept separate in teaching and learning processes. García and Li Wei (2013) call translanguaging a ‘new languaging reality’, which makes possible engagement with people’s biographies, histories, and trajectories in teaching and learning practices, while simultaneously unsettling deeply embedded views of language as structural hierarchies. This panel explores the potential of translanguaging for teaching and learning beyond the classroom. The four papers will consider how ‘lessons’ about language take place in non-classroom contexts. The papers will consider the relevance of these informal language lessons for the individuals involved, and will discuss their contribution to social cohesion in superdiverse cities. Each presentation will reflect on what may be gained from viewing ‘learning’ in its broadest sense as people translanguage, making meaning with the resources available in a particular time and space.

Paper 1: Langscape investigators: Bringing the outside in

Jessica Bradley, Emilee Moore and James Simpson, University of Leeds

‘Langscape Investigators’ is our trans-disciplinary educational engagement project for schools, linking to areas of the primary curriculum, including geography, literacy, drama and art. The initiative is informed by linguistic landscape research carried out by the Leeds team on the AHRC Translation and Translanguaging project. Working with Leeds researchers and students, and using photography, video and audio recording, primary school children go outside the classroom to document their multilingual local environment, record the stories behind the signs, and bring their findings back into the classroom. Here they use them in workshops to prepare arts and performance productions and exhibitions. We describe how the work not only provides an opportunity for outreach and engagement, but also informs and enriches our understandings of the multilingual city landscape.

Jessica Bradley is a Doctoral Researcher on the AHRC project ‘Translation and Translanguaging: Investigating Linguistic and Cultural Transformations in Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities’ (TLANG). She is undertaking research into translation and translanguaging in community arts. Previously, Jessica worked in the Arts team within Educational Engagement at the University of Leeds for over 9 years, developing and managing projects with schools and colleges to promote modern languages and art. She holds an MA in Applied Translation Studies from the University of Leeds and a BA in French with Spanish from the University of Newcastle.

Emilee Moore is a postdoctoral researcher in the Beatriu Pinós program (Generalitat de Catalunya), affiliated with the AHRC project ‘Translation and Translanguaging: Investigating Linguistic and Cultural Transformations in Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities’ (TLANG). Her research is framed within the study of meaning-making practices in multilingual and multicultural educational contexts from a perspective integrating linguistic anthropology, interactional sociolinguistics and sociocultural learning theories. Emilee has participated in several Spanish and European R+D projects, and a number of teaching innovation and socio-educational projects. As a university lecturer, she has helped develop teachers for multilingual preschools, primary and secondary schools, and tertiary education for about 7 years.

James Simpson is Senior Lecturer in Language Education and Academic Group Leader in Language Education. He is an applied linguist specialising in the teaching and learning of languages in migration contexts and in the intersection of new technology, literacy, mobility and social justice. His work involves the critical analysis of linguistic practices relating to identity, language diversity, language pedagogy, language policy and literacy. His research has taken place in the UK and South Asia. James is co-investigator for the Leeds team on the AHRC project ‘Translation and Translanguaging: Investigating Linguistic and Cultural Transformations in Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities’ (TLANG).

Paper 2: はじめ! Stop. Nie słyszałaś że na komendę?”: Dynamic translanguaging practices and the myth of Karate as Japanese martial arts

Zhu Hua, Li Wei and Daria Jankowicz–Pytel

The paper investigates dynamic translanguaging practices in a karate club in an ethnically diverse area in East London, using the ethnography data collected as part of the AHRC Translation and Translanguaging project. The club is taught by a Polish Roma sensei and attended by local children of a variety of language backgrounds. While Polish, English and other linguistic and semiotic forms are used collaboratively as languages of instruction, elaboration, disciplines or information, there is a strong emphasis on learning and performing Japanese karate terms. We argue that such dynamic translanguaging practices not only serve the purpose of the karate club envisaged by the coach, but also contribute to the transformation of karate from national martial arts to a global one, which, paradoxically, capitalises on the myth of karate as Japanese martial arts.

Zhu Hua is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Communication and Head of Department at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her research interests are intercultural and multilingual communication and migration. She is the author of Exploring Intercultural Communication: Language in Action (2014, Routlege) and editor of Research Methods in Intercultural Communication (2016, Blackwell), and Crossing Boundaries and Weaving Intercultural Work, Life, and Scholarship in Globalizing Universities (2016, Routledge, with Adam Komisarof). She is joint Series editor for Routledge Studies in Language and Intercultural Communication (Routledge, with Claire Kramsch).

Li Wei is Chair of Applied Linguistics and Director of the UCL Centre for Applied Linguistics at the UCL Institute of Education, University College London. He is Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, UK, and Principal Editor of the International Journal of Bilingualism and Applied Linguistics Review. His co-authored book with Ofelia Garcia Translanguaging: Language, Bilingualism and Education won the 2015 BAAL Book Prize. His latest publication is the Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Multi-Competence, edited with Vivian Cook.

Daria Jankowicz–Pytel’s interests are concerned with understanding relationships between language and society. She developed her interests in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology during her BA studies in TESOL. Her MA dissertation explored the language practice of bilingual Polish/English speakers as social process both reflecting and influencing their socially constructed identities.

Paper 3: You have to check them, read them! Lessons beyond the classroom

Frances Rock

The abstract for this panel suggested that ‘lessons’ about language can take place in non-classroom contexts. This paper develops this idea by exemplifying some ‘lessons’ in progress and considers what is taught through these lessons. The lessons take place in non-educational contexts in Cardiff, illustrating how diverse participants work together to learn and do. The paper draws on examples of translanguaging and metalanguage about translanguaging (Li Wei 2011). In some instances, lessons about language are explicitly concerned with language but elsewhere the lesson seems to be about something else entirely. Even in these latter instances, however, speakers collaboratively create opportunities for learning through meaning-making in translingual spaces and this process of creation can, itself, be seen to entail learning and lessons.

Frances Rock is Reader in the Centre for Language and Communication Research at Cardiff University. Her work investigates the mediation of experiences in social worlds through language and other means. Frances’ research has focussed on the examination of language and communication in policing contexts and workplaces. Frances’ publications include the monograph “Communicating Rights: the language of arrest and detention” (2007) and the co-edited collection “Legal-Lay Communication: Textual Travels in the Law” (2013) and co-authored book “Linguistic Ethnography: Collecting, Analysing and Presenting Data” (2015). She is an Editor of the International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law. She is Cardiff’s Co-Investigator on the Tlang Project. Frances’ current and recent doctoral supervision includes work on asylum processes, police community support officers, food discourse, political talk and hip hop.

Paper 4: Translanguaging in the city: A lesson for language learning

Adrian Blackledge and Angela Creese

This paper proposes that translanguaging in everyday encounters offers a template for language learning in educational settings. In city meeting-places people come together in contact zones when they share different histories, heritages, biographies, and trajectories. These differences have the potential to destabilise interactions. However, translanguaging practices may transform encounters, as interactants make the best use of semiotic resources, and often engage in language learning activity. These creative engagements not only open up safe spaces for communicative interaction, but also produce communicative overlaps, as people recognise sameness as well as difference. To illustrate these points we present an empirical example of translanguaging in practice, as a public sector worker encounters a member of the public. We reflect on the implications of translanguaging in practice for language learning in education.

Adrian Blackledge is Professor of Bilingualism in the School of Education, and Director of the MOSAIC Centre for Research on Multilingualism, University of Birmingham. His recent publications include Heteroglossia as Practice and Pedagogy (with Angela Creese, 2014), The Routledge Handbook of Multilingualism (2012, with Marilyn Martin-Jones and Angela Creese, Routledge), and Multilingualism, A Critical Perspective (with Angela Creese, 2010, Continuum).

Angela Creese is Professor of Educational Linguistics at the School of Education, University of Birmingham, and is the principal investigator of AHRC large grant, Translation and Translanguaging: Investigating Linguistic and Cultural Transformations in Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities TLANG . Her research interests are in linguistic ethnography, language ecologies, multilingualism in society and multilingual classroom pedagogy.