Dealing With Language Gap in a Hungarian-English Early Childhood Classroom

Dealing With Language Gap in a Hungarian-English Early Childhood Classroom

Eva Csillik (New York City Department of Education, USA) and Irina Golubeva (University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1219-7.ch011
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The term ‘translanguaging' has been widespread in the field of Applied Linguistics in a short period of time, and just as quickly, it infiltrated in the field of Multilingual Education. Translanguaging is mostly seen as an opportunity to build on multilingual speakers' full language repertoire in the classroom in order to make sense of the world around them. At the same time, translanguaging might be seen as a threat for heritage language survival because heritage languages are forced to immerse in the mainstream language(s). The authors observed pedagogical translanguaging practices in the AraNY János Hungarian Kindergarten and School (USA) to understand how English was used in teaching the heritage language and to discover how bridging existing language gaps between speakers worked in the practices of bilingual pedagogues. The overarching aim of this study was to reveal some of the pedagogical translanguaging strategies used to deal with occurring language gaps.
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Traditionally, in the past, schools have followed a monolingual language policy of strict language separation in the school curriculum, by establishing clear boundaries between two or more languages to avoid cross-linguistic influence and code-switching, to protect and develop proficiency in minority languages. These ideologies of language separation have been highly criticised in recent years (Grosjean, 1985; Cook, 1999; Cummins, 2007; García, 2009; Creese and Blackledge, 2010; Li, 2011; Canagarajah, 2011; Gort, 2018) and are outdated in terms of multilingual education. A new paradigm has been taking shape due to today’s fast-changing world as a result of globalization, ubiquitous technology use, and worldwide immigration. Instead of separating language systems from one another, there is a trend towards two or more languages to co-exist in the multilingual classroom (García, 2009; Canagarajah, 2011; Cenoz and Gorter, 2011, 2015). Although it is a natural linguistic phenomenon for emergent bilingual speakers to use all their language systems or language repertoires to communicate and make-meaning of the academic content (García & Wei, 2014; Paulsrud et al., 2015; García & Kleyn, 2016; Golubeva & Csillik, 2018), it is still a challenging task for pedagogues working in multilingual classrooms (Csillik, 2019b). The integration of different elements from different languages is not easily accepted neither by the field of Applied Linguistics, nor by the wider society. It is still associated with the incompetency of the language speaker who lacks a linguistic code in one language and borrows this code from another language. Some might see it as a “divergent linguistic phenomenon” that deviates from the “standard academic language” or from the socially accepted norm in language education. In spite of all these, translanguaging (García & Wei, 2014; Cenoz & Gorter, 2015, Paulsrud et al., 2015; García & Kleyn, 2016; García et al., 2017; Gort, 2018; Rabbidge, 2019) is one of the widely used concepts associated with this new trend in multilingual education. The authors previously introduced translanguaging (Csillik & Golubeva, 2019b, p. 170) as “the act of using different languages interchangeably, in order to overcome language constraints, to deliver verbal utterances or written statements effectively, and, to ultimately achieve successful communication”.

Encouraging students to translanguage with their language learning peers and teachers helps multilingual students to claim some ownership in the educational process, show complete understanding of the subject area, and express individuality in shaping their identity to belong to a social minority group (Golubeva & Csillik, 2018; Csillik & Golubeva, 2019a; Csillik, 2019a in press).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Heritage Language: A low- or high-incidence language spoken by an ethnic group in a given population of a social context regardless that this heritage language might be a dominant language of another given population in another social context.

Mainstream/Dominant Language: The dominant language spoken by the majority of the population in a given population of a social context.

Pedagogical Translanguaging Strategies: A set of language teaching strategies in multilingual classrooms where all language repertoires are presented in order to promote multiple language development and learning simultaneously.

Code-Switching: The practice of alternating or switching between two or more languages in a given communication for various reasons (e.g., missing word in one language, better fitting word in another language, strong cultural attachment, time saving to use shorter word[s], sounding fancier, leaving others out of the conversation, etc.), between interlocutors who belong to the same bilingual culture.

Bilingual/Two-Way Immersion Program: A language learning program, popular in the United States of America, where two languages are used for classroom instruction where L1 is the students’ first language and L2 is the students’ second language or the target language to be acquired through peer/teacher interaction while integrating both students of the minority language and students from the majority language in the same classroom. The ultimate goal of this program is to reach academic excellence and create successful bilingual/bicultural language speakers.

Language Gap: A communication gap found in bilingual immersion programs where L1 monolingual and L2 monolingual speakers lack an understanding of each other due to a deficit in shared vocabulary or a difference in their intercultural understanding.

Multilingual Education: The use of two or more languages for learning and teaching in an educational setting to develop content area knowledge and literacy skills in two or more languages.

Translanguaging: The act of using different languages interchangeably, in order to overcome language constraints, to deliver verbal utterances or written statements effectively, and, to ultimately achieve successful communication.

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