What You Should Know About Translanguaging: Part 2

In ‘What You Should Know About Translanguaging: Part 1’, we looked at how a translanguaging approach to teaching EFL/ESOL can lead to more inclusive practice by validating the different languages – and therefore identities – learners bring to the classroom.  Using a translanguaging pedagogy means acknowledging and incorporating multilingualism into classroom practice and here in Part 2 we outline two main categories of activity you might want to try out.


Kramsch (2014) identifies four different types of translation: transference of meaning across linguistic codes i.e. what is traditionally thought of as translation; across discourse frames – from different perspectives; across forms of media, and finally across modalities i.e. from linguistic to non-linguistic sense-making.  Here are some suggested activities for each type of meaning transfer:


Varying the language of input, processing and output* is one way of validating multilingualism and drawing on all the learner’s linguistic resources.  Activities could include:

Writing a story

  • Gather information & note ideas in L1
  • Discuss ideas in English
  • Develop ideas/draft in L1
  • Collaborate to produce final story in English

Summarising an article

  • Find article in L1
  • Share with group/partner in English
  • Write/present summary in English

What do you think about using translation and multilingual tasks with your classes?  Perhaps they seem counter-intuitive; it seems to be taken for granted that the best way to learn a new language is complete immersion, ‘untainted’ by the learner’s L1.  This notion of linguistic purity in the classroom arguably serves to uphold the status of the so-called Native Speaker in our industry.  However, there is a growing body of research that suggests English-only immersion programmes may not be as effective as once thought.  A Stanford University study (2014)**, for example, revealed that while student language gains in an English-only immersion programme were greater in the short-term than those achieved in a bilingual programme, the latter cohort performed better in the long run.  If such findings do eventually lead to a paradigm shift towards translanguaging, we may well see a more equitable spread of power between EFL/ESOL teachers of all L1s and a greater demand for bilingual & multilingual teachers. 





García, O., & Hesson, S. (2015). Translanguaging frameworks for teachers: Macro and micro perspectives. In A. Yiacoumetti, Multilingualism and Language in Education: Current Sociolinguistic and Pedagogical Perspectives from Commonwealth Countries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 221-242.

Kramsch, C. (2014).   The Challenge of Globalization for the Teaching of Foreign Languages and Cultures.  Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching.  Vol. 11 Issue 2, p249-254.

* Crisfield Educational Consulting

**  https://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/march/teaching-english-language-032514.html

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