image of Translanguaging



Since the launch of the term translanguaging in 1994, the multiple discursive practices that are grouped under this label have been explored in over 3000 papers, covering a variety of contexts, both within and outside education. While the term has clearly resonated with researchers and practitioners, here it is argued that it is unclear what it means exactly, because there are no diagnostic criteria specifying what it is. Extensive criticism has also been put forward in the academic literature, showing that central claims are untenable in the face of overwhelming counter-evidence from a range of fields, including studies on code-switching, bilingual education, bilingual first language acquisition, language contact and language processing. However, translanguaging can become a useful instrument for researchers and practitioners if the concept is narrowed down to what it was coined for, namely pedagogical practices that are beneficial for multilingual learners. In order for this to happen, clear diagnostic criteria need to be provided for the identification of translanguaging, and research evidence from neuroscientific, structural, psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic studies on multilingualism needs to be integrated into its conceptualization.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keywords: code-switching ; multilingual pedagogy ; bilingual education ; transfer ; translanguaging
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