The potential and limitations of Translanguaging for language in education policy, pedagogical research and development

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Subtractive multilingual education involves replacing learners’ main language(s)/initial language of education with an additional/former colonial/international language as the medium of instruction during basic education. It has severe negative impacts on educational access, participation and achievement, in particular for marginalised learners. Research in the global North shows additive multilingual education, where learners’ main languages are systematically used and developed through subject teaching and learning alongside additional languages, leads to increased language learning compared to learning languages as subjects alone, and at-grade level achievement across the curriculum without additional disadvantage for marginalised students. However, both additive and subtractive multilingual education reify the existence of single, whole, separate languages, and their relationship to national and psychological unity and stability. This monoglossic ideology, which emerged in European nation-states and spread through colonisation, continues to ‘invisibilise’ and ‘other’ multilingual people in the post/neo colonial world. Transglossic perspectives, such as Ubuntu translanguaging, focus on the holistic linguistic repertoires and language practices of individuals and communities in relation to contexts of use, opening possibilities for decolonial language policy, pedagogy and research. In this presentation, we discuss the potential and limitations of transglossic perspectives, drawing on our recent review of the literature, and make recommendations for further research.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2023


TitleLanguage Policy Forum Conference 2023
SubtitleDecolonising Language Policy
Duration15 - 16 June 2023
LocationSOAS University of London
CountryUnited Kingdom