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Educ. Sci. 2017, 7(1), 26; doi:10.3390/educsci7010026
While their mobility may be obvious, certain aspects are obscured. For instance, whether these mobile students’ languages and knowledge—their concepts, metaphors and images—are purposively, systematically and strategically being deployed to reconstitute seemingly local, place-bound educational cultures is less apparent.
2. Mobility, Knowledge Theorization and the Vietnamese sàng khôn
Đi cho biết đó biết đây, ở nhà với mẹ biết ngày nào khôn. (Literal translation: Travelling to get to know here and there, confining oneself to home one will never know when to become wise).
2.1. Use of sàng khôn in Education
[T]ranslanguaging refers to the deployment of a speaker’s full linguistic repertoire, which does not in any way correspond to the socially and politically defined boundaries of named languages. (italics originals)
It is a linguistic practice that involves different languages and language varieties but more importantly a process of knowledge construction that makes use of but goes beyond language(s). (italics original)
Translanguaging is the process of making meaning, shaping experiences, gaining understanding and knowledge through the use of two languages.
The ability of multilingual speakers to shuttle between languages, treating the diverse languages that form their repertoire as an integrated system.
The term translanguaging should be taken in the sense of transcending, “going beyond”, the two languages of bilinguals…or the three of trilinguals, or the many of mutlilinguals, and to think of bilinguals/multilinguals as individuals with a single linguistic system (the inside view) that (the outside view) calls two or more languages. (italics & double quotation marks original)
Unlike translanguaging, codemeshing also accommodates the possibility of mixing communicative modes and diverse symbol systems (other than language).
2.2. English-Only Pedagogy and Learners’ sàng khôn
- Tenet one: English is best taught monolingually;
- Tenet two: the ideal teacher of English is a native speaker;
- Tenet three: the earlier English is taught the better the results;
- Tenet four: the more English is taught, the better results;
- Tenet five: if other languages are used much, standards of English will drop.
They secure a bridgehead for the Centre in the Periphery, thereby legitimating Centre export of ‘experts’, know-how, projects, books, etc. and securing the imperialist penetration of the education systems of the emerging post-colonial states.
‘dependent’, ‘hierarchical’, ‘collectivist’, ‘reticent’, ‘indirect’, ‘passive’, ‘docile’, ‘lacking in self-esteem’, ‘reluctant to challenge authority’, ‘easily dominated’, ‘undemocratic’, or ‘traditional’ and, in effect, uncritical and unthinking.
3. Research Design and Context
In what ways is undergraduate students’ sàng khôn used to facilitate their development of proficiency in English and their knowledge production at an Australian higher institution?
4. Multilinguality and Working with Students’ sàng khôn
I think about language/s in terms of multilinguality. The distinction between one English and another and one language and another is not clear to me. Is English English? If one considers that corpus of English—how much of this is English? How much of this comes from other languages?(Questionnaire)
The language repertoire may include another so-called form of Global Englishes or it may be Mandarin, Vietnamese and so on. It is likely to mean a degree of hybridity of the home language and English. For me this is a dimension of multilinguality.(Questionnaire)
Epistemology is the knowledge system. For instance in Africa, if one goes to a little village in a remote area, people will know a great deal about how the world works. They’ll know about the environment, they will know about when to plant, what to plant, what animals will survive there, how they will survive, how to actually live in a sustainable way within that particular setting. So they develop an epistemology. If one goes to any indigenous Australian community, the community will know and pass on knowledge from generation to generation of how to live in a sustainable way in what appears to be very arid and difficult circumstances. So this is knowledge. This is really significant knowledge.
I am trying to build a strong pedagogy in which I understand that students bring their own linguistic repertoires (and epistemologies) into the classroom and that in order to further develop their English for academic life in Australia, they need to use their repertoire (the whole repertoire) and their own epistemologies.(Questionnaire)
5. Multidirectional Translanguaging
If I were to define translanguaging I would say that it is a key aspect of multilingual education. And by translanguaging I would suggest that it is a blanket term which covers practices of code mixing, code switching, translation, interpreting; that it is not one directional, that it is multidirectional.
5.1. Global North vs. Global South Translanguaging
- Use of students’ home language in the process of developing high level of proficiency in English [in the US]; or
- Community-based projects [or] adult education projects [in the UK, where] women…use their primary language to develop their literacy skills which will take them towards proficiency in English.
In the US context, this is the target—the target is English. It’s not a bilingual target. The mainstream approach is toward English to get all the minority communities to become proficient in English. So translanguaging in the US or North American context very often may be interpreted as one directional from the home language or the minority language towards the majority language. This sort of particular uni-directionality seems also to be very much part of the discourses of some of those who are writing about translanguaging in the UK.(Italics added for emphasis)
For most settings in the Global South, [English] is a de facto minority language; very few people speak that language. It is the language of great prestige. It is the language through which power is channelled.
In China, Viet Nam, Korea, Japan, India, Africa, you’ve got a majority of children who are being channelled towards English, which is the minority language. They cannot possibly learn English using the same pedagogies that are used in the US or in the UK. We have to understand that these are completely different circumstances and it cannot be seen as it is a one directional process. It has to be multidirectional.
So when I refer to translanguaging, I do not refer to it in the same way as understood by some of my colleagues in the US. I refer to it as a much bigger project of multilingual education. I see it as multi-directional and I think that it is really important for students to develop a high level of proficiency in the strongest proficiency of their primary community.
So for international students coming here, they need to develop their functional bilingualism, in their home language and in English, in order to be able to function both in Australia and in the home country. So they would need to be able to know how to move between the two languages and make whatever accommodation and changes that are necessary. And also to be clear about how they are doing that. But the more they develop their metacognitive awareness of how they’re doing that the stronger will become both, and also their sense of their language proficiency.
6. Global South Translanguaging: How the Pedagogy Works
6.1. Translating between Languages
- Students translated course readings into their primary languages;
- Students wrote their essays in their primary languages(s) then translated them into English or vice versa;
- Students took notes in their primary languages or alternated their note-taking between their primary languages and English.
When you convert it or translate it, it can’t be word-for-word translation. You are going also to have to translate it in the way that it matches the form and structure of academic English.
I expect the students to do some translation and also to try to edit their translation so that they are not necessarily limited to direct translation, but they understand the process of translating and then rewriting and editing in order to match the idiomatic expression or the structural dimensions of the target language.
It is important for them to try to expand and further develop their academic proficiency in the primary language while simultaneously doing the same in English.
6.2. Cross Referencing Knowledges
There may be a research topic that students have to go away and read about but I do not expect my students to read academic texts only written in English; I expect them also to supplement the core reading texts in English with research material and other evidence that they are able to source in their primary language so that they are able to cross reference and at least find ways of engaging and using them—the knowledge and expertise that they have in their primary language—to assist their conceptual knowledge and use of this information in English.
I am encouraging students to use their whole linguistic repertoire wherever this is appropriate in order to be able to grasp the kind of research material, evidence, information that may be useful in the writing of different types of essays or research reports.
There are over 7000 languages in the world. But the knowledge retained in over 7000 languages of the world is not transported through the very few languages that are controlled by the academy. In 1970 the languages used in the academy were French, German, Spanish, English, Italian and Portuguese, 6 languages. We’ve got to the point now, 2016, when most of what is written in academy is in English. It was bad enough when it was filtered through just six imperial languages. But the amount of knowledge published academic texts in the six now has shrunk to mostly in one. Now what are we missing? There’s a huge amount of knowledge and expertise simply being missed as it’s not been captured.
If we’re doing our jobs properly at universities, we would be wanting to access whatever knowledge our students bring to us and also to share not only for their benefit but also for our benefit and also for the benefit of all students at the university so that we are able to share the knowledge, the epistemological knowledge that students are able to bring from whatever country they come from in order to enrich all of our courses.
What we’re trying to do is to allow students to become aware that they are all resources, they all have access to epistemological expertise and that together we might be able to access that knowledge in order to be able to better understand other people, to be able to communicate across cultural divides. And what we’re hoping to do this year is to not only do that but to bring in a linguistic dimension to that so that students are more aware of the language and the epistemological expertise that they can have in order to enrich their intercultural capabilities while at university.
And I have found that students have been surprised that I have encouraged this process and have intimated that they had thought that this would not be an acceptable process.
On account of that I have now made it a specific requirement that in all of my assessment items I would like to see lists of references that include mainly references in English but also references in at least one other language. And I found that students have responded really well to this.
6.3. Translanguaging Embedded in Genre Pedagogy
7. Discussion and Final Remarks
- Global South translanguaging to develop students’ multilingual proficiency: In Global South translanguaging, students activate both English and their primary languages with the purpose of developing their skills in both English (the target language) and their primary languages. This is much needed in global mobility, where international students are on the move between their home and host countries and especially where the labour market is no longer defined by the confined boundaries of physical spaces .
- Global South translanguaging to be embedded in genre pedagogy: This is to make sure that students are exposed to the genres (i.e., text types) and linguistic features specific to these genres which are commonly found in different disciplines students specialize in. Translanguaging allows students to explore, compare and contrast these textual features between English and their indigenous languages in order to develop their multidirectional language proficiency.
- Global South translanguaging to facilitate students’ knowledge construction and theorization using their indigenous knowledges and epistemologies: An intended pedagogical practice in Mary’s translanguaging is to unlock students’ indigenous knowledges and epistemologies held in their indigenous languages in their research work. In so doing, students have opportunities to critique different knowledge systems in their languages and those in English, and vice versa. It is through these critical processes that students learn and theorise their new knowledge.
- Mary’s pedagogical practices suggest that teachers may be able to facilitate students to translanguage without knowing their indigenous languages. This is a useful input for teachers and lecturers in IC countries where English is the medium of instruction and where there are students from diverse linguistic backgrounds—especially for those who do not know how to use their students’ languages as resources for classroom practices when the teacher does not speak the students’ languages.
- Mary’s Global South translanguaging practices provide useful pedagogical implications for English-as-a-medium-of-instruction (EMI) programs in higher education in OC and EC contexts. Lecturers in these programs can have students translanguage between English and their indigenous languages (including knowledge systems encoded in these languages) to facilitate their content knowledge development. It should be noted that the answers to questions, such as when to use which language, need further research-based evidence to confirm and are classroom/context specific. The use of genre pedagogy suggests that in EMI programs students’ development in English proficiency is more than just having students familiarize with a set of vocabulary which is commonly found in particular disciplines. Genre pedagogy offers students opportunities to develop a functional understanding of text structures and their specific linguistic features in order to function in different modes of communication in their disciplines .
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|1||Introduction to Course|
|2||Reflective Writing and Autobiography|
|3||Biography and Film Review|
|4||Features of Biography and Politeness|
|5||Biography and Grammar of Biography|
|6||Biography, Research Methodology and Grammar in Context|
|9||Oral Presentation Skills and Australian English|
|10||Oral Presentations, Indigenous Australian in Australian Film and Literature|
|11||Preparation for Grammar Test and Oral Presentations in Class|
|12||Preparations for Final Grammar Test and Oral Presentations|
|13||Final Assessment: Grammar test, Evaluation and Farewell|
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