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Monday, 6 October 2014

Making Connections between Bilingualism and Digital Immersion

I am completing my last paper as part of my Post-Graduate Diploma of TESSOL with John McCaffery at Auckland University.

Currently, we are learning about Translanguaging and as I listen and process, I can't help but make connections to my beliefs about the Learn, Create, Share ethos of Manaiakalani and my own pedagogical practice.

"Translanguaging is a theorised bilingual immersion pedagogical teaching strategy for promoting rapid academic, literacy language, and identify development in two languages and literacies." 

"It involves teaching students to use alternating languages for receptive or productive uses."

(McCaffery, 2014. RRS PhD work)

There are two current interpretations of translanguaging; translanguaging as a way of learning, from a student view, and translanguaging as a way of teaching, from a pedagogical approach.  For the purpose of this blog post, I will be commenting on the pedagogical teacher approach.  

The key idea is that teachers strategically draw from students TLR (total language resources) and effectively plan for the use of both languages in order get students to cognitively process concepts and ideas in both languages.

Firstly, I return to the 'ice berg model.'  

This model aims to illustrate the idea that bilingual students do not operate in one language alone.  That bilingual students draw from both languages when processing new learning.

Translanguaging - is a pedagogical approach, in which teachers strategically plan for students to translanguage by providing input opportunities in one language and output opportunities in another.  It is not learning a concept in one language and then RElearning it again - the same concept - in the second language.  Rather, it is LEARNING a concept in one language, and USING that learning to CREATE another product.

I started thinking about the term 'digital native' coined by Marc Prensky in 2001.  Interestingly, I believe in a similar pedagogy within my digital immersion classroom, or maybe, my digitally bilingual classroom.  What we do, in Manaiakalani is kind of like the translanguaging of digital literacies.

For students to translanguage, teachers need to provide opportunities for students to LEARN in one language and then CREATE in another.  Similarly, in a Manaiakalani classroom, we encourage students to LEARN and CREATE using their digital literacies.

In both contexts, what teachers are encouraging students to do, is to cognitively engage with a given task, and draw upon all prior knowledge to process new learning and ideas.  It involves teaching students to use alternating languages/devices for receptive or productive uses.  In both contexts, it aims to promote rapid academic literacy language in two literacies.

What are the advantages of this approach?

  • Teachers are prioritising learning time - in prior posts, I discuss the importance of this, especially in regards to priority learners such as Pasifika and Maori learners.  Why would you spend time teaching it in one language, and then repeating it again in a second language?  Likewise, why would you teach a concept in one medium (google doc) and ask students to regurgitate the same learning a second time (copy and paste information into a google presentation).  Translanguaging allows for students to build on concepts to create a new product, rather than repeat learning that they already have.
  • The 'cognitive stuff' goes on under the line of the ice berg - translanguaging is moving through a cognitive process.

It is exciting to see the connections between the two key professional learning areas in my life, as I can see ways forward for myself and for programmes that I am involved with.  Next steps I am thinking about at this time include:
  1. How can we include heritage languages in the whanau engagement programmes as part of Manaiakalani?
  2. How are digital tools being used for translanguaging in bilingual units in our cluster?
I would like to investigate these questions further throughout my last term of school and as part of my learning in my last paper!  

I don't know if this post made much sense, as it is the coming together of two major ways of thinking in my mind - sorry!  Hopefully things will become clearer as time goes on...follow my journey!

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