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Grosjean's Bilingualism Essay

560 words - 3 pages

Obviously language plays a huge factor in bringing out a person’s individuality, as the way they use language allows them to socialize and build relationships in their community. For someone who is either a bilingual or multilingual, they are able do these functions using a phenomena called code switching or translanguaging. Code-switching takes place when a bilingual person begins an utterance in one language and then switches to the other language (De Jong, 2011;60). On a broader scale, this type of practice falls under the term translanguage because of its unique meaning-making dimension.
It needs to be mentioned that code-switching isn’t a characteristic of bilingualism that’s done for convenience. It is also really beneficial in the classroom. It aids in both learning the English language and speaking it proficiently. Research shows ...view middle of the document...

They are able to articulate the two languages, depending on context, without being inept in either one. In my opinion this should be seen as an asset and not a drawback. Even though they might not be inept, it doesn’t mean they can’t get better. Teachers should try to advance their bilingual students by encouraging the notion of translanguage.
Translanguaging strategies enable bilinguals to incorporate the language practices of school into their own linguistic repertoire (Garcia, 2012;3). If the students were able to have the same linguistic freedom they get from their homes, their performance would be much better. They would speak English more fluidly. Even though the concept of English might belong to another culture, they would feel more encouraged to learn it if they had the liberty to use their own linguistic practices. Translanguaging builds the flexibility in language practices that would make students want to try out other language practices, increasing the possibilities of becoming multilingual (Garcia, 2012;2).
Translanguage, just like many other bilingual features, is often viewed as a hindrance than an asset. It’s viewed to cause confusion and a sign of being incompetent in either language. In one of my middle school classes, there was a rather bright student from Colombia. He was new to the country but it was obvious he had a brilliant mind as his answer to question stood out. But he would have trouble articulating some of his thoughts into English. Whenever he had to reply to a question, he would insert some Spanish words to fill a lexical void. As a result, my home room teacher was reluctant to pick him to answer a question. Even though his answers were brilliant, no one gave him the encouragement to raise his hand time and time again. The fact that he was using translanguage to show his bilingual repertoire wasn’t recognized. Had someone been able to do that, he would’ve performed to his fullest potential.

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