‘Without my language, I’m a broken tree’: Nurturing ‘thirdpace’ translanguaging pedagogy in low SES, culturally diverse classrooms

    Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation


    Australia is characterised by a complex, super-diverse (Vertovec, 2007) cultural and linguistic landscape. Students can feel alienated when they are consistently reminded that their community, culture and use of language are not valued by the wider society (D’warte, 2014; Garcia, Johnson & Seltzer, 2017). This can have a negative impact on engagement, literacy and wellbeing with ongoing consequences for post- schooling involvement in society more broadly. This paper reports qualitative, ethnographic research from ‘The Identity Text Project’ that is operating in several secondary and primary schools from south-western Sydney, NSW. Up to 65% of the school populations come from low socio-economic backgrounds (ACARA, n.d) with 97% speaking one or more languages other than English. The professional learning project utilises inclusive pedagogy that honours the languages and cultures of the students and their agency in the learning process. Identity texts (Cummins, 2000) are employed as resources and creative products and the ‘Supportive strategies for Multilingual Classrooms’ framework (Dutton et al., 2018) supports learning and teaching design. The research explores how teachers might support multilingual speakers to make flexible use of their individual linguistic resources and give voice to symbolic representation of identity and culture. It is contextualised within the socio-spatial frames of Lefebvre (1991) and Soja (1980), and Li Wei’s (2011) translanguaging space. Because it challenges the hegemonic monolingual discourse of schools, translanguaging (Blackledge & Creese, 2010; Williams, 1996) is ‘thirdspace’ practice. The translanguaging space creates the capacity to transcend boundaries of named languages (Li Wei, 2018) and embraces creativity – a dimension of education under threat in high stakes testing educational contexts (Berliner, 2011; Jefferson & Anderson, 2017) such as Australia. The research data includes anonymised teaching programs, student work artefacts and teacher professional dialogue. The data were analysed inductively, iteratively and recursively in a process of intensified reading with key features annotated and then coded using the lens of socio-spatial theory. Analysis reveals the ways students were positioned by the ‘first’ and ‘secondspace’ practices of their schools and they were able to represent these in the ‘thirdspace’ mediums of poetry and drama. The English teachers developed a ‘transformative stance’ (Garcia & Kleyn, 2016) in that they came to see that employing resources and pedagogies that acknowledge diverse backgrounds and ways of communicating, could build engagement, enhance wellbeing and show they value the community, culture and language of all students.
    Period2 Dec 2019
    Event titleAARE 2019 Conference: Education for a socially just world
    Event typeConference
    LocationBrisbane, AustraliaShow on map
    Degree of RecognitionNational