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The Translingual Approach in the Classroom

Summary:

These OWL resources give an overview of the origins and tenants of translingual writing, as well as ideas on how instructors might implement translingual approaches to their lesson plans and curriculum. The section on assessment gives writing instructors some suggestions for how to give feedback and talk to students about their work. In addition, this set of resources offers some foundational texts on the theory of translingual writing and a history of its scholarly progression.

Designing a Curriculum Using a Translingual Writing Approach

Designing a curriculum based on a translingual approach requires the instructor to rethink the writing classroom as a site of negotiation as opposed to prescription. Here, the OWL offers several suggestions for instructors to consider when incorporating the translingual approach into the curriculum based on three pedagogical purposes:

Here are some suggestions for using translingual writing as a syllabus approach:

  • The process approach should be foregrounded, which includes multiple drafts and revisions. Sequenced assignments could be implemented to allow for sustained and extended negotiation between instructors and students;

  • In order to highlight students’ linguistic and cultural resources in the writing classroom, literacy autobiography could be emphasized as a focal assignment to inspire students to explore the linguistic and cultural repertoire that embodies their identities;

  • Conferencing needs to be built into the syllabus and highlighted. Conferencing might take place during the brainstorming phase, reading and discussing phase, drafting phrase, rewriting and revising phase, and reflecting phase. Instructors are advised to pay particular attention to students’ rationale for certain rhetorical moves that may be considered “different” and allow students to negotiate meaning;

  • Initiate multiple discussion sessions that focus on writing conventions in different contexts;

  • Course readings should cover texts written in and/or about different linguistic and cultural contexts.

Here are also some suggestions for how to use translingual writing as a theme in the course:

  • Readings should be carefully chosen from the scholarship on translingual writing (see the suggested readings) to represent the full scope of the scholarly discussion, for example, the origin, development, debate, pedagogical practices of and about translingual writing;

  • Discussions could begin with apparent differences in language, and then transition to less apparent rhetorical and discursive differences;

  • Assignments could be designed as sites for translingual negotiation between the student and the instructor. It could also prompt students to critically engage with the scholarship by positioning themselves in relation to the scholarship and to reflect on their own translingual identity.

If however, you would like to focus an assignment on translingual writing, instead of an entire course, here are some suggestions:

  • The literacy narrative is an optimal genre for a translingual writing assignment, as it prompts students to reflect on the advantage of mobilizing their own linguistic and cultural resources in a new rhetorical situation.

  • Time should be allowed for students to reflect on and negotiate how they deploy and manipulate their linguistic and cultural resources, either in the form of a post-assignment reflection or during conferences.

  • Please be aware that there are not a lot of translations of theory into the pedagogical imperative, and new assignments are always being developed or could be developed that work.

Feedback on Student Writing

Responding to student writing within a translingual paradigm requires students’ active engagement in the process and teachers’ willingness to negotiate with the student.

  • Approach unconventional use of English as sites of negotiation rather than mark it as poor practice or error;

  • Use questions instead of statements to create space for negotiation when noticing unconventional practice of English. This requires teachers to always assume that students make certain rhetorical and linguistic moves intentionally to achieve certain purposes;

  • When interrupted by practices of code meshing or code mixing that involve the use of languages other than English, teachers should suggest using footnotes or other clarification techniques to facilitate understanding;

  • Most of the translingual practices are manifested at the lexical level. Writing teachers should be cautious against being over tolerant when translingual writing is used as an excuse to account for other global issues in student writing, such as coherence and organization;

  • Feedback should also invite students to fully unpack any unfamiliar use of English, as a means to build rapport with their audience;

  • When giving feedback, teachers should not neglect the potential rhetorical context to which the student is likely to transfer the writing skills practiced in the writing classroom.

Assessment of Student Writing

Assessing student writing within a translingual paradigm calls for special attention to what to assess as well as how to assess it, which necessitates a revamp of the assessment rubrics from a traditional monolingual paradigm.

  • When designing assessment rubrics, teachers should be cautious when using terms such as “standard written English” and “grammatical mistakes,” as these constructs represent a monolingual ideology rather than a translingual one. If you do need to use these phrases, teachers need to carefully define these constructs within a translingual paradigm;

  • Language use should not be completely neglected in the rubrics, as it would do developing student writers a disservice. Rather, language use and students’ ability to justify their language use should be highlighted;

  • Assessment should not focus only on students’ written products, but should also be implemented during the composing and negotiating processes; Assessment should be viewed as a dynamic practice as opposed to a static one.

  • Context, along with students’ ability to analyze, adapt to, and transform the context, should be counted toward holistic assessment rubrics.

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Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.