Translanguaging in bilingual education

Ofelia GARCÍA, Mei Yi Angel LIN

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


Since Cen Williams first used the Welsh term trawsieithu in 1994 to refer to a pedagogical practice where students in bilingual Welsh/English classrooms are asked to alternate languages for the purposes of receptive or productive use, the term translanguaging has been increasingly used in the scholarly literature to refer to both the complex and fluid language practices of bilinguals, as well as the pedagogical approaches that leverage those practices. This chapter reviews the growing scholarly literature that takes up the term translanguaging and discusses the ways in which the term is contested. We focus here on the potential and the challenges that a translanguaging theory provides for bilingual education. After a review of the scholarship, we discuss two of the problems that the scholarship on translanguaging and bilingual education makes evident – (1) that there are two competing theories of translanguaging, one which upholds national languages and calls for a softening of those boundaries in bilingual education and a second “strong” version which posits a single linguistic repertoire for bilingual speakers and thus an essential feature of bilingual education, and (2) the fear that translanguaging in bilingual education would threaten the minority language. In this light, we consider how translanguaging theory impacts issues of language allocation and pedagogy in bilingual education. Copyright © 2017 Springer International Publishing AG.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBilingual and multilingual education
EditorsOfelia GARCÍA, Angel M. Y. LIN, Stephen MAY
Place of PublicationCham
EditionThird edition
ISBN (Electronic)9783319022581
ISBN (Print)9783319022574
Publication statusPublished - 2017


García, O., & Lin, A. M. Y. (2017). Translanguaging in bilingual education. In O. García, A. M. Y. Lin, & S. May (Eds.), Bilingual and multilingual education (3rd ed., pp. 117-130). Springer.


  • Assessment
  • Bilingual education
  • Code-switching
  • Pedagogy
  • Translanguaging


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