Volume 3, Issue 1  April 2020, pp. 60–76          Download PDF

Special Issue: Translanguaging as a Resource in Teaching and Learning
Translanguaging for and as learning with youth from refugee backgrounds

Saskia Van Viegen https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3748-19901

1 York University, Canada saskiast@yorku.ca

DOI: https://doi.org/10.29140/ajal.v3n1.300


Although host countries generally integrate refugees into public education, wide-spread and comprehensive understanding of teaching and learning with children and youth who have experienced forced displacement and migration remains an unmet goal within most education systems. This article explores the educational needs of these children and youth, exploring teacher perceptions of and approaches to students' language and literacy practices. Sharing insights from case study research conducted in one Canadian school, the article discusses how educators at the school drew upon and engaged students' linguistic resources as key to student learning, relationships and engagement, catalyzing new configurations of language in education. Analyzing these processes through a translanguaging theory of language, the article discusses how teachers and students engaged "translanguaging instinct" and created "translanguaging spaces" (Li, 2018) in their classrooms to support teaching and learning. Finally, the article proposes a three-dimensional matrix for teachers to use in reflecting on language teaching and learning, comprising axes of (1) teacher- and student-initiated translanguaging; (2) planned and spontaneous engagements with translanguaging; and (3) translanguaging as either a scaffold or a resource for learning. Illustrated with examples from practice and elaborated with teacher reflections, the article describes why such approaches are of critical importance in response to circumstances of forced migration and resettlement of vulnerable populations. Findings arising from this work further support and respond to the call for nuanced understanding of how translanguaging practice and pedagogy materialize within situated educational contexts.


© Saskia Van Viegen

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Suggested citation

Van Viegen, S. (2020). Translanguaging for and as learning with youth from refugee backgrounds. Australian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 3(1), 60–76. https://doi.org/10.29140/ajal.v3n1.300

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