Toward linguistic justice and inclusion for multilingual learners: Implications of selective translanguaging in English-medium instruction classrooms

Pramod Kumar SAH, Guofang LI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Background and aims: English-medium instruction (EMI) mainly mandates teaching all subjects in English only, but evidence shows teachers and students use local languages alongside English, commonly known as translanguaging. This has been proposed as a transformative pedagogy, especially for ethnic/Indigenous children, but research on its impact on the lived experiences of ethnic minority students in EMI multilingual classrooms is lacking. This paper fills the gap by studying the discursive use of translanguaging in EMI classrooms in a multilingual school in Nepal. 

Methods: Drawing on an ethnographic study in an EMI school located in a multilingual ethnic minority community where mother tongues (i.e., Bhojpuri) other than Nepali were spoken, this paper reports on interviews, focus group discussions, and classroom observations in Grades 6 and 9 over 4 months. Results: Data analysis reveals that both teachers and students recognized a need to negotiate the English-only policy to accommodate their limited English proficiency and used Nepali but not their mother tongues as a supplementary language. While English-Nepali translanguaging seemed to facilitate a better delivery and understanding of content knowledge, this selective, excluding practice did not guarantee equity and equality due to excluding students’ mother tongues (i.e., Bhojpuri) in content classes and school language policy. 

Conclusions: Our findings highlight how such “selective translanguaging” practices and their related ideologies stigmatize mother tongues, causing linguistic injustice for ethnic minority students. The study proposes “inclusive translanguaging,” countering unequal language ideologies and embracing historically marginalized languages, cultures, and identities. Copyright © 2024 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101904
JournalLearning and Instruction
Volume92
Early online dateApr 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Apr 2024

Citation

Sah, P. K., & Li, G. (2024). Toward linguistic justice and inclusion for multilingual learners: Implications of selective translanguaging in English-medium instruction classrooms. Learning and Instruction, 92, Article 101904. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2024.101904

Keywords

  • Selective translanguaging
  • Inclusive translanguaging
  • English-medium instruction
  • Multilingual learners
  • Linguistic justice
  • Nepal

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