Multilingualism and translanguaging in the teaching of and through English: Rethinking linguistic boundaries in an Australian University

Kathleen Heugh, Xuan Li, Ying Song

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter offers a contextual background to the teaching of English as an Additional Language (EAL) in Australian universities. The discussion then turns towards the efficacy of conventional approaches to languages in education in the context of current diversities, and the role that code-switching and translanguaging may play in teaching English in Asian and Australian contexts. Whereas there has been a recent interest in the potential of translanguaging as a pedagogical approach (e.g. Canagarajah 2011; García and Li Wei 2014), there has been little documentary evidence of a systematic approach to two-way translanguaging (Chinese to English, and English to Chinese) in written assessment tasks in university courses. Here we report on a micro-study in which there has been a systematic pedagogical shift in the teaching EAL for the purposes of preparing students to use English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) at an Australian university. In this study, an approach that builds on each student’s bilingualism or multilingualism through practices of translanguaging is documented. We report on diagnostic coding and analysis of written assignments of students whose primary language is Chinese. We find a strong correlation between students’ written proficiency in Chinese and in English. We also find a strong correlation of students’ metalinguistic expertise in translation and their proficiency in their home language. We argue that the findings indicate value in shifting from a single objective to teach only English to the development of high level academic proficiency in both the primary language and English.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnglish medium instruction in higher education in Asia-Pacific
Subtitle of host publicationFrom policy to pedagogy
EditorsBen Fenton-Smith, Pamela Humphreys, Ian Walkinshaw
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783319519760
ISBN (Print)9783319519746
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameMultilingual Education
ISSN (Print)2213-3208
ISSN (Electronic)2213-3216


  • Chinese
  • English
  • Metalinguistic expertise
  • Translanguaging
  • Translation
  • Multilingualism
  • University education


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