Sedyl - Structure et Dynamique des Langues - UMR8202 - CELIA


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14-10-2016Séminaire doctoral - Pratiques langagières - terrains, méthodes, théories
Animé par I. Léglise et V. Muni Toke
Villejuif - Bât.D - S.511 - 14h00-18h00

Li Wei, UCL Institute of Education, University College London
Translanguaging as a theory of language: some conceptual and methodological considerations


The notion of Translanguaging has, in the last ten years or so, attracted a considerable amount of attention in the applied linguistics community. On the whole, it has been accepted as a useful pedagogical approach to language education, particularly bilingual education. Its significance as a theoretical concept, especially as a theory of Language, remains controversial. Some question its added value compared to the more established concepts such as code-switching. In this article, I focus on Translanguaging as a theory of Language and discuss the theoretical motivations behind the concept and the methodological challenges in its application to real data. I contextualise Translanguaging in the debate over the Modularity of Mind hypothesis and the multilingual language users’ Symbolic and Multi-Competence. One particular aspect of multilingual language users’ social interaction that I want to emphasize is the multi-modal and multi-sensory nature. Drawing examples from everyday social interactions amongst the Chinese and Polish diasporic communities in Britain, I aim to show what can be gained by adapting the Translanguaging approach rather than the traditional code-switching approach, as well as how the notion of Language can be handled in empirical analyses from a Translanguaging perspective. In doing so, I respond to some of the criticisms levelled by theoretical linguists against the notion of Translanguaging and point out the muddles in the logic of arguments hitherto presented. To answer Kramsch’s call for a practice-based theory of language, I suggest that Translanguaging would be a strong candidate and would make a key contribution to theory building in applied linguistics. In the meantime, I also highlight the necessity to bridge the artificial, and ideological, divide between the socio-cultural and what’s been called the ‘cognitive’, approaches to dynamic multilingual practices.