Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Translanguaging as a process and a pedagogical tool for Japanese students in an English writing course in New York
by Kano, Naomi, Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University, 2012, 217; 3512508
Abstract (Summary)

The use of bilingual pedagogy in developing K-12 academic literacy in a second language is contested in the literature. Some theorists and practitioners recommend depending solely on the target language; others contend that the use of learners' first language stimulates higher-order thinking skills that facilitate literacy learning in the target language. This descriptive case study postulates translanguaging as a cognitive mechanism commonly observed among bilingual/multilingual populations, and investigated its role both as an instructional tool and as a spontaneous medium in meaning-making among bilingual learners. Although the phenomenon of translanguaging has been discussed for many years, existing definitions generally lack clarity, seeing translanguaging simply as a process in which information input in one language is output in another, and understates or ignores thinking; this emphasis in pedagogy is the heart of this study.

For this study, I designed and presented a series of lessons to 10 Japanese students, aged 12 to 16, with the aim of focusing on their thinking in the process of translanguaging for English essay writing. I conducted stimulated recall interviews with the students immediately following selected lessons. The interview data were analyzed qualitatively to investigate the role of translanguaging as a learning tool.

The present study proposes a definition of translanguaging as a complex process that entails shifts in modes in addition to shifts in codes, and that involves code-switching, translation, and a combination of both, because the findings show that the act of translanguaging which the students practiced included the above. During the writing process, students frequently employed a variety of translanguaging techniques, including one-way and two-way translanguaging. While the majority of experienced bilinguals exercised independent use of translanguaging, an intentional and controlled act of translanguaging, emergent bilinguals practiced dependent use of translanguaging, an unintentional and uncontrolled act of translanguaging, and used their dominant language as a scaffolding device as well as the language of thought.

The study showed that the use of translanguaging as a bilingual pedagogy helps reduce learners' excessive use of one-way translanguaging with heavy dependence on the stronger language, and consequently promotes progress in the weaker language.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kleifgen, Jo Anne
Commitee: Bartlett, Lesley, Garcia, Ofelia, ZhaoHong, Han
School: Teachers College, Columbia University
Department: International and Transcultural Studies
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 73/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Bilingual education, English as a Second Language
Keywords: Bilingual Japanese-English students, Bilingual pedagogy, English language learners, Language of thought, New York City, Translanguaging, Writing process
Publication Number: 3512508
ISBN: 978-1-267-41595-0
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