Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2352-1805
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1813
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While translation has recently had a comeback in language pedagogy, its applicability in classrooms with students from diverse linguistic backgrounds has been underexplored. In countries with increasing immigration and high intakes of international students, which is the case of Canada, language classrooms are intrinsically multilingual. This multilingual reality provides unique opportunities for students to use their linguistic repertoire while learning English – one of Canada’s official languages –, but teachers may be hesitant to use translation as a pedagogical tool if they do not speak the languages of their students. This paper reports on the results of a qualitative study with three teachers and 40 adult learners of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) in a Canadian university. All of the student participants had at least two languages in their repertoire, and 90% reported being plurilingual, that is, using several languages with varying levels of proficiency. With the exception of English, the language of instruction, the teachers did not share any of the languages spoken by the students. The study explored how the teachers used translation to engage students’ plurilingual repertoires and investigated students’ perceptions of translation practices. Data was gathered through student diaries and classroom observations. Results of deductive analyses show that translation, when used within a plurilingual approach, was helpful for making sense of English vocabulary. Moreover, students reported that translation across languages enhanced conceptual knowledge. The paper argues that translation as a process rather than an L2-L1 textual product can advance language learning in multilingual classes.


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