Using the translanguaging space to facilitate poetic representation of language and identity

Janet Dutton, Kathleen Rushton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
82 Downloads (Pure)


Australian students come from a wide range of linguistic and cultural backgrounds with each context providing unique challenges. Tensions however exist between the intentions to address diversity and the competing influence of a high-stakes context that prioritizes monolingual classroom practices and diminishes teachers’ use of engaging pedagogy. Viewed through the lens of socio-spatial theory, these tensions highlight how the ideal of education for diversity is re-shaped by the everyday practices in schools and systems. This can result in monolingual ‘firstspace’ practices that do little to develop the knowledge of language and culture that is central to students’ engagement with learning. This article reports ethnographic research in which secondary subject English teachers challenged routinized monolingual practices and re-imagined their classroom practices. The use of translanguaging and the reading and writing of poetry – translanguaging poetry pedagogy – created ‘space’ to support a dynamic process in which students could use all their linguistic resources to produce identity texts. The use of translanguaging and identity texts disrupts a transmission pedagogy that positions the student as a blank slate. Teachers reported how translanguaging poetry pedagogy moved from a ‘thirdspace’ practice to a ‘what we do’ or ‘firstspace’ practice as they came to see that using students’ full language repertoire is a way to return the power of language to their students. The resultant translanguaging space and the symbolic propensity of poetry helped students to develop powerful personal representations and reinforces the need for pedagogies that acknowledge students’ diverse backgrounds, and honor the languages and identity of all students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-133
Number of pages29
JournalLanguage Teaching Research
Issue number1
Early online date2 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • English
  • identity
  • literacy
  • social justice
  • translanguaging


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