Multilingualism, translanguaging and learning English in an Australian university

Kathleen Heugh, Li Xuan, Ying Song

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


In this paper, we discuss attempts to re-think conventional boundaries of English language learning and pedagogy alongside ‘western’ epistemologies offered to international students at the University of South Australia. We do thisthrough a multilingual approach to teaching English that draws on research and practices of multilingualism in Africa and ‘multilinguality’ (Agnihotri 2014) in India. The approach includes explicit use of what several contemporary scholars refer to as ‘translanguaging’ (e.g. García & Li Wei, 2014). In particular we discuss the trialling of interventions and practices in which students are encouraged to make purposive use of their knowledge and expertise in their home (or strongest) language alongside their journey towards developing high level proficiency in English. Diagnostic assessment of students’ written texts in Cantonese, Putonghua and English indicate that such approaches permit a more nuanced understanding of students’ linguistic proficiency in both their home language and English. They also suggest that students experience enhanced metalinguistic awareness of, and confidence in, using their own linguistic and knowledge repertoires in addition to English. The findings further indicate that, while engaged in this process, the three sets of participants (undergraduate students, HDR student researchers and university teachers) experience heightened reflexivity of learning and teaching English in relation to their own and others’ linguistic repertoires.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event2015 Research Centre for Languages and Cultures symposium: The nature of learning in languages education - University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 26 Nov 201527 Nov 2015


Conference2015 Research Centre for Languages and Cultures symposium


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