English Research Seminar Series: Sustainable Translanguaging in Multilingual Education



Language teaching in educational settings has traditionally applied a policy of language separation, by isolating the target language from other languages in the learner’s repertoire. The policy has some challenges because in real communication multilingual speakers use their repertoire differently. In this presentation, we consider strategies of sustainable translanguaging as an alternative to monolingual ideas about language separation. The concept of translanguaging originated in Welsh bilingual schools where Welsh, the minority language, and English, the majority language, are both used as languages of instruction. The concept of translanguaging has been developed and it can now refer to pedagogically oriented strategies developed to foster multilingual competences and on the other hand, to spontaneous language practices that use linguistic resources from the multilingual speaker’s repertoire. We foreground in this presentation the concept of sustainable translanguaging in a context where minority languages are taught in multilingual schools. We will report on a pedagogical intervention based on translanguaging that aims to develop communicative and academic competences in the minority language, the majority language and English as the foreign language. The project comprised an intervention of 12 weeks that focused on the development of metalinguistic awareness and language awareness. There were 73 bilingual primary school pupils participating in the intervention, who had Basque and/or Spanish as their first language and English as their third language. The outcomes demonstrate that translanguaging provides pupils with additional resources that can be used to develop multilingual competence. The results also show that sustainable translanguaging can be obtained when the minority languages gain some breathing spaces.


Durk Gorter
Durk Gorter is Ikerbasque research professor at the University of the Basque Country, Spain. He is the head of the Donostia Research group on Education And Multilingualism (DREAM). He does research on multilingual education, European minority languages and linguistic landscapes. Among his recent publications are, Minority Languages in the Linguistic Landscape (2012, co-edited with Heiko Marten and Luk Van Mensel), Minority Languages and Multilingual Education: Bridging the Local and the Global (2014, co-edited with Victoria Zenotz and Jasone Cenoz) and Multilingual Education: Between language learning and translanguaging (2015, co-edited with Jasone Cenoz). He also teaches in the European Master in Multilingualism and Education (EMME). He is the editor-in-chief of the journal Language, Culture and Curriculum. In September 2018 he received the award of Distinguished Scholar of Multilingualism of the International Association of Multilingualism.

Jasone Cenoz
Jasone Cenoz is Professor of Research Methods in Education at the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU and President of the Education Science Committee of the Spanish Research Council (AEI). Her research focuses on multilingual education, bilingualism and multilingualism. She has published extensively and has presented her work at conferences and seminars in the US, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, India, Brunei, New Zealand Singapore and most European countries. Her publications include Teaching through Basque (2008), Towards Multilingual Education (2009, Spanish Association of Applied Linguistics 2010 award), Minority Languages and Multilingual Education (2014) and Multilingual Education: Between language learning and translanguaging (2015). She has served as AILA publications coordinator for 8 years and she has been a member of the Executive Committee of IASCL and Past President of the International Association of Multilingualism.