Online Teachers Course

  • 24 lessons
  • 0 quizzes
  • 1 week duration

Online Teachers Course

Practical information

Many teachers who teach students with other linguistic backgrounds, often find a disparity between the language these students use for conversation and that which is used for school purposes. Bilingual students coming in everyday contact with the second language-as the dominant language of the place they live, develop interpersonal skills in a short time that is approximately 2 years, but it takes 5-7 years to become proficient in the context-reduced language which is used in the classroom.

An inclusive school ought to take into consideration students’ existing knowledge, and therefore the linguistic features they bring into the classroom. Two main concepts play a key role in giving prominence to these features and legitimizing their use in the educational process: the concept of repertoire and the concept of translanguaging. Both concepts draw from sociolinguistic research on language education in multilingual environments and are used in the current literature regarding the transformation of the formal school practice to “culturally sensitive teaching”.

The concept of repertoire

The concept of repertoire is connected to a speech community and includes all the linguistic resources that are available to a speaker facilitating him/her in the process of creating a message and communicating. Having a specific repertoire means that you know how to combine and use different resources. Different resources may regard languages, linguistic features, dialects, practices of language communication etc., which may be part of speakers’ biography or part of their learning experience. Students have the abovementioned elements in their disposal and based on each communicative event they choose those ones that are appropriate. The ways that a student may use elements of his/her repertoire differ. For example, a student may know a language without using it, he/she may recognize certain words, etc.

The conceptualization though of repertoire that since its appearance it has been immediately related to the verbal aspect, has, like many other approaches and concepts, adapted to the new local and global socio-political conditions, identifying the following types of repertoire:

  • The repertoire as presented through the concept of metrolingualism, is related to language ideologies, practices and language features.
  • The polyglot repertoire focuses on the element of movement, of the mobile resource. This aspect distances the relation between language and state and points out the relation between language and students’ routes .
  • The linguistic repertoire underlines the complexity of composing linguistic repertoires and gives prominence to the qualities that emerge through the co-existence of the local and the global nature of students’ experiences.

Translanguage as a device and as communicative practice

In current literature, the concept of linguistic repertoire is productively related to the concept of translanguaging that introduces a different perception of bilingualism/multilingualism. During the translanguaging practice speakers go beyond the named, choosing those linguistic features from their repertoires that help them communicate. Namely, instead of the co-existence or interaction of two different or more linguistic systems, translanguaging places bilingualism/multilingualism within a space where languages and linguistic features are blended. It concerns a process that blends languages with students’ complex realities, with their experiences in different spaces such as home and school. Especially in school, the two or more languages that compose students’ repertoire are applied in a dynamic and functionally integrated manner to organize and mediate mental processes in understanding, speaking, literacy, and, not least, learning. Translanguaging has been researched in many contexts and for many reasons, it has been adopted in many researches and educational interventions. Most of the scientific studies agree on the following:

  • That translanguaging is not based in approaching language as an absolute linear system. On the contrary, a more active approach of language is adopted, that is based on the concept of languaging: namely as a process that is in constant change and is co-shaped by speakers and the environment.
  • On a different conception of bilingualism/multilingualism, namely instead of the co-existence or the interaction of two different entities, translanguaging places bilingualism/multilingualism within a space that languages and linguistic features are mixed. It refers to a device that mixes languages with students’ complex realities, their experiences in different spaces such as home and school.

The perception of translanguaging proposes that the classroom which includes students with different cultural and language backgrounds is asked to transform the classroom into a third space or a translanguaging space within which different language identities, and discourse practices not only co-exist but also engage into dialogue the different experiences, ideologies, knowledge of the students, allowing this way for new identities, values, and practices to emerge.

There are three interrelated choices that shape translanguaging pedagogy, the combination of which may result into a multilingual ecological approach, that teachers adopting it ought to:

  • To approach classroom as a space that encourages mixing discursive practices, different beliefs, ideas, elements coming from different social spaces (e.g. broader family environment, home, etc.).
  • To design the lesson in a way, so that it gives prominence to using multilingual resources, translanguaging as a process of meaning-making and students’ participation, or even the adoption of translanguaging evaluation.
  • To take into consideration what happens in the classroom during the language lesson and to redesign and transform the educational processes responding to the needs of their students.