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Presentation on Translanguaging in an English-medium tertiary environment

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The Nordic countries have been very much in the vanguard of the recent, worldwide growth in the number of tertiary-level courses taught partly or entirely through the medium of English outside of the traditionally English speaking world (Wächter & Maiworm, 2014), on the national or international scale. The presence of English in the Swedish university context ranges from use of assigned reading in English on courses which formally have Swedish as the language of instruction to courses and indeed entire degree programmes taught exclusively in English. The latter case typically involves the presence of international students, and so the setting is multilingual with English the only available common language. The former, on the other hand, involves a more homogeneous set of linguistic proficiencies and experiences. While some students (or teachers) may be of non-Swedish origins, as a condition of admission, all are expected to be proficient in Swedish and English both. In many educational settings like these, an ethos of restricting communication to the shared language frequently prevails. However, a relatively recent trend in research on multilingual settings has been to challenge the one-code ethos and to examine the phenomenon of translanguaging, by which participants in an interaction draw on the full range of linguistic resources available to them (e.g., Creese & Blackledge, 2010; Garcia & Li, 2014) This paper reports on the findings of two parallel studies in two different educational settings. In the first study, Swedish-language lectures in three disciplines were observed and recorded. Sixteen hours of transcribed speech were analysed to identify the use of English in the lectures. The relatively infrequent, but highly institutionalized, references to English in the Swedish-language lectures serve to tie reading and teaching together, and construct Swedish education as a branch of international learning. In the second study we report on findings from observations carried out in an entirely English-based environment, where the course is taught by a non-native speaker of English to a multilingual student group. These observations concern instances where the teacher’s translanguaging skills are put to the test in order to create an inclusive classroom. The observed instances involve the use of metaphors and cultural references intended to explain the lecture content, humour intended to affect the classroom atmosphere and meta-comments on the students’ assumed learning process within the frames of the lecture. The findings indicate that the multilingual classroom in Swedish higher education makes, or should make high demands on the university teacher’s awareness of and capacity to use translanguaging strategies. References Creese, A., & Blackledge, A. (2010). Translanguaging in the bilingual classroom: A pedagogy for learning and teaching? Modern Language Journal, 94, 103–115. García, O., & Li, W. (2014). Translanguaging: language, bilingualism and education. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. Wächter, B., Maiworm, F., & Academic Cooperation Association. ACA. (2014). English-taught programmes in European higher education: The state of play in 2014. Bonn: Lemmens.

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NameLUNAS, Copenhagen University

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