Ofelia García, Nelson Flores and Heather Homonoff Woodley
A. Yiakoumetti (ed.). Harnessing Linguistic Variation for Better Education. Peter Lang.
Throughout the world language minorities are most often educated in schools that have been designed for language majorities. Usually they are educated only through the medium of the dominant state language. But even when they are given the opportunity to be educated bilingually, education programs are most often built on models, frameworks and practices that have been designed for schooling language majorities. Building on what we have learned in a study of successful schools in educating Latino youth who are developing English (García, Flores, Woodley & Chu, 2011), this paper explores the interactions of teachers and students in U.S. public schools for Latino recent immigrants that transgress the monolingual or traditional bilingual model of schooling. We do so by exploring the classroom interaction of teachers and students in these schools through their translanguaging practices; that is, discursive and pedagogical practices that break the hegemony of the dominant language in monolingual classrooms, and the isolation of languages in bilingual classrooms. Before we focus on these classrooms, however, we explore some of the theoretical frameworks that have to be transgressed in order to understand the power that translanguaging holds as a pedagogical practice by offering two theoretical alternatives –– 1) transglossia, and 2) dynamic bilingualism. We also theorize about translanguaging itself, before we look at how it functions in the classroom. From monolingualism and diglossia to transglossia
Language difference has been the purview of sociolinguistic studies since the mid- 20th century, as studies explore how speakers make linguistic choices in social contexts. But the models that have been used often link one language choice to a speaker’s identity on the basis of the domain in which language is used and the interlocutors (Fishman, 1967; Gumperz, 1982), or on account of social characteristics such as nationality, age, gender, or class (Labov, 1966). In many ways, sociolinguistic models of language choice have been diglossic, positing that one language variety (Ferguson, 1959) or one language (Fishman, 1967) or even one feature (Labov) is used for specific reasons, and that the choice of one feature, one variety, or even one language responds strictly to external characteristics or social contexts that function independently of others. Thus, a common sociolinguistic tenet is that language use is diglossic, meaning that one language variety (Ferguson, 1959) or one language (Fishman, 1964) is used in certain domains (or territories) with specific people and for unique purposes, and that the other language is used for different functions. A diglossic arrangement has been the pillar of educational practices. In monolingual programs, the dominant language of instruction, often a standard variety is most often kept separate and distinct from the ways in which students use language, and the students’ home language practices are ignored. In bilingual programs, the two languages being used as medium of instruction are also most often kept completely separate. This monolingual or diglossic language use in the classroom was rampant in the 20th century when “speech communities” were understood as stable and homogeneous, reflecting the dominant language ideologies of the time embedded within the nation-state paradigm. Instruction was then usually teacher-centered, and students were given very little freedom to work collaboratively in groups or independently. In the 21st century, the concept of diglossia has been called into question, as more situations of stable societal multilingualism without functional allocation have been described. Many have used the case of the complex and stable...