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Translanguaging: A Critical Analysis of Theoretical Claims (Cambridge Masterclass in Multilingualism, Education and Language Policy (2020-2021)

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  • UserProfessor Jim Cummins, University of Toronto
  • ClockMonday 18 January 2021, 15:00-17:00
  • HouseOn-line.

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The presentation will contrast two versions of translanguaging theory: Unitary Translanguaging Theory (UTT) and Crosslinguistic Translanguaging Theory (CTT). UTT and CTT do not differ in their pedagogical approaches to teaching minoritized students but vary significantly in the way these pedagogical approaches are framed theoretically. UTT is associated with the work of Ofelia García and colleagues who, over the past 12 years, have argued that the bilingual’s linguistic system is unitary and undifferentiated, with the result that ‘bilingual people do not speak languages’ (García & Lin, 2017: 126) but rather use their repertoire of linguistic features selectively. Extrapolation of this basic position has led García and colleagues to designate as ‘monoglossic’ (and hence illegitimate) constructs such as ‘additive bilingualism’, ‘academic language’, ‘common underlying proficiency’, and teaching for crosslinguistic transfer, together with labels such as ‘home language’ and ‘school language’. By contrast, CTT argues that bilinguals do speak languages which are experientially, instructionally, and socially real for students, teachers, policymakers, curriculum designers, politicians, and most researchers. CTT also affirms the legitimacy of constructs such as additive bilingualism, academic language, common underlying proficiency, and teaching for transfer across languages. I argue that UTT fails to satisfy criteria of empirical adequacy, logical coherence, and consequential validity for assessing the adequacy of theoretical constructs and frameworks, whereas CTT does satisfy these criteria.

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group series.

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