Translanguaging: combining language and learning

UWI/UTT partner to promote teaching method for linguistic diversity in the classroom

In an effort to help educators better understand the intersection of language and learning in the classroom, UWI St Augustine’s Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics (DMLL) recently teamed up with the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s Centre for Education Programmes (UTT CEP) in a joint initiative to promote translanguaging.

Given that students in a classroom may speak different languages or dialects, translanguaging is a teaching method which incorporates linguistic diversity into lesson planning to help students learn more comfortably, hone their linguistic diversity and stimulate linguistic creativity.

Teachers can practise translanguaging by mixing languages, switching between languages, code-meshing and translating. For example, if a student’s first language is English but they also speak Spanish as a second language, a teacher uses translanguaging when they create lessons and assignments by the incorporation of both languages.

From February 27 to March 1, the UWI St Augustine Centre for Language and Learning was transformed into a translanguaging hub as over 100 teachers from primary and secondary schools across Trinidad and Tobago participated in the joint initiative titled “Translanguaging Pedagogy: Every Teacher is a Language Teacher”.

Not to be left out, a total of 191 secondary school students from 14 secondary schools were invited to participate on the last day of the initiative.

Throughout the course of the initiative, 35 facilitators - comprising staff from UTT, The UWI, the Ministry of Education, Living Water Community and school teachers – gave practical demonstrations on the application of translanguaging in the classroom.

Activities consisted of a series of 20-minute Language Matters sessions on French, Linguistics, Patois (French Creole), Portuguese, Spanish, and Trinidad and Tobago Sign Language.

Programmes and courses provided by the DMLL were also showcased and participants were also introduced to the UWI’s newly implemented Foreign Language Policy which seeks to promote multilingualism.

DMLL Head, Eric Maitrejean and UTT CEP Programme Leader, Dr Marc Jackman, addressed participants while Dr Elna Carrington-Blaides did a special presentation on Inclusive Education.

UTT’s Dr Nicha Selvon-Ramkissoon and UWI’s Rómulo Guédez-Fernández also presented their insights on the implementation of Translanguaging Pedagogy in T&T’s classrooms.

Mexico’s Ambassador to T&T, His Excellency Víctor Hugo Morales Meléndez, visited the initiative's second day and the Ministry of Education was represented by Laurence Jaggassar, Curriculum Coordinator for English, who actively participated throughout the event.

The event was organised by a group of representatives from both the UWI St Augustine and UTT including Selvon-Ramkissoon, Guédez-Fernández, Ms Aarti Sharma Persad, Dr Anne-Marie Pouchet, Dr Benjamin Braithwaite, and Dr Karen Sanderson Cole.

Sponsors included the Embassy of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago, Heritage Petroleum Company Limited, Massy Stores (T&T), the Bermudez Group Limited, the Embassy of Mexico in Trinidad and Tobago, Haphiza's Odyssey Travels Limited, and other anonymous benefactors.

Representatives from the DMLL told UWI TODAY that many teachers found the event to be informative and enlightening as they were equipped with useful tools and strategies for implementing translanguaging in their classrooms in a systematic way.

They added that there are plans to host similar initiatives and that the most recent was the first of many UWI-UTT joint collaborations to support primary and secondary teachers.