Translanguaging: a “Practical Theory of Languages” to Support Minority Language Education

Francesca D’Angelo


To address the communicative and educational needs of multilingual and complex social realities, the present work suggests adopting a translanguaging approach as a “practical theory of languages”. First, from a socio-linguistic point of view, a theory of languages characterised by soft boundaries enables us to portray the way real individuals convey meanings in their everyday life, interacting with each other, exploiting all the linguistic and semiotic resources available. Translanguaging goes beyond the concept of countability of languages focusing on the multilingual and multimodal repertoire of multiple language speakers. Secondly, from an educational perspective, by questioning the traditional assumption of languages as separate entities, the theory rejects the native/non-native label, typical of monolingual education systems, mainly concerned with the linguistic achievement purely conceived in terms of proficiency levels. Most importantly, a translanguaging approach in language education requires a critical gesture that aims to develop a high degree of cultural and linguistic awareness. It transforms the whole educational system creating a more inclusive space where, through interaction, students can act critically and creatively to break the traditional dichotomies between majority and minority languages.

Parole chiave

Translanguaging; Bilingualism; Heritage Languages; Minority Languages; Multilingual Education

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