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20221129Translanguaging in the EMI Classroom



Speaker: Sean Edgley, Fulbright TEFL Advisor

Problems of EMI classes

- Mostly using direct method (Using a certain language in class) which is not natural.

- Students have difficulty studying in English.

- Long lecture time only with limited break

- Lecturers teach in the same way.

- No authentic scenarios to speak in English outside of the classroom.


Translanguaging refers to the practice of using two languages within the same lesson.

Why should we use Translanguaging?

- The languages are mixed together in our brain rather than separated sections.

- We mostly speak mother tongue outside of the classroom but when mother tongue

becomes the minor language in class, which is unusual.

- It gives students a space to communicate or flight back on linguistic unfairness.


When should we use Translanguaging?

- Domain specific knowledge

It’s hard for people to understand in content specific course in English even for English native speaker. It makes sense to switch to the language we much more familiar with to explain something quickly.

- Complementing English

Using mother tongue as an auxiliary language to explain the terms which is hard to understand in English

- Recasting

Sending students’ question back to them by repeating their answers and let them try to correct their answers.

- Giving concreate or local examples

The examples or cases on textbooks might be difficult for students to connect with. As a result, instructors can take these examples or cases and adapt to local ones, which might help students to understand easier.

- Explaining the lesson goal

Explaining the lesson goal in mother tongue at the beginning of the class help students better understand what they are going to learn.

- Checking students’ comprehension

Using mother tongue to explain the knowledge again can help students check their understanding.

- Asking critical questions

Translanguaging assists students to comprehend questions which is difficult to understand in English so that they can give response back to teachers.


Best practice of Translanguaging

- Give students options to respond difficult questions in their mother tongue .

- Avoid punishing or shaming students for using mother tongue .

- Use a variety of visuals (photos, videos, mind map, PPTs).

- Shorten the social distance between students and teacher by sharing teacher’s own experience, life or having a casual talk.

- Categorize the vocabularies into two categories —— technical and non-technical.

Teachers can make students understand the technical ones through using mother tongue or giving examples.
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