Translanguaging and Diversity our 21st Century Schools

By: Leketi Makalela  

Whereas immigration has become a permanent feature of the 21st C nation states, cultural and linguistic practices at most schools in the world still suffer from monolingual, monicultural bias. Inevitably, this strict desire to uphold the prestine models of monolingualism disproportionately places the immigrant and multilingual students at an educational disadvantage. Despite this trend being common, very little is known about alternative practices that harness diversity and transform knolwedge access and classroom cultural identity positions. In this paper, we explore the African notion of ubuntu- I am because you are- as a heuristic for classoom discourses. Data from schools and university student participants in South Africa is presented to highlight the efficacy of ubuntu translanguaging in enhancing reading literacy development and improved classroom interactions. The results of the study shows that ubuntu translanguaging offers significant opportunities for immigrant and multilingual students for deeper learning and affirmation of their identity position. We therefore argue that ubuntu translanguaging- also known as multilanguaging is a pedagogical alternative for harnessing diversity in multilingual schools. In the end we consider useful recommendations for practice in comparable contexts and offer suggestions for further research on language and cultural diversity.

Translanguaging, Cultural diversity
Education and Learning in a World of Difference
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Leketi Makalela

Professor, Languages, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Gauteng, South Africa

I am a full university professor at the University of the Witwatersand, South Africa and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the City University of New York, USA.