Researching translanguaging: key concepts, methods & issues

Monday 19 June (00:00) - Friday 23 June 2017 (00:00)

Angela Creese

Sarah Martin 

This free 5-day residential course organised by TLANG is designed for researchers, including doctoral researchers, who are engaged in research on communication in multilingual contexts.

TLANG, Translation and Translanguaging: Investigating Linguistic and Cultural Transformations in Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities (AH/L007096/1), is a research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Reserch Council (AHRC) under its theme Translating Cultures. TLANG is a collaboration of seven universities and seven national non-university partners.  It aims to investigate how people communicate in increasingly diverse city settings, and what the implications are for policy and practice in public, private and third sector organisations.  Contributions to the residential will also be made by colleagues from the University of Cape Town, also funded by AHRC (ES/M00175X/1), whose focus will be the pedagogic potential, and ideological challenges of translanguaging in multilingual contexts.

Course participants will have access to TLANG’s already established networks as well as future opportunities to take part in its assemblies, city seminars, thematic workshops and international conferences.  TLANG provides a variety of meetings for academics, professionals, activists, artists, and students to share their interest in superdiversity and multilingualism. The 5-day course will also build on previous residential courses held at the University of Birmingham in 2010/11 funded through ESRC’s  Researcher Developer Initiative (RES-046-25-004, RDI). 

Researching translanguaging

Linguistic, cultural and demographic changes have been ushered in by transnational population flows, the crisis of war, the changing political and economic landscapes of different world regions, and by the advent of new technologies for social media and online communication. These conditions have created a pressing need for a programme of detailed research which makes visible the ways in which people interact – how they translanguage and translate  – in rapidly-changing social settings. 

The last decade has seen the emergence of new strands of research on translanguaging and new lines of enquiry which have incorporated critical and post-structuralist perspectives from social theory and which have embraced  ethical epistemologies and research methods. Different research strategies have been employed in different kinds of sociolinguistic spaces: in local neighbourhoods, across transnational diaspora, in multilingual workplaces, complementary schools/community classes, mainstream educational settings, health care centres, sports clubs, religious gatherings, legal settings, bureaucratic encounters, in the mass media, and on the internet. Researchers have provided detailed accounts of face to face encounters in multilingual settings and in mediated, virtual interactions. They have also explored the interface between spoken and written language use and multimodality, seeking connections between local situated practices and wider social processes. 

Translanguaging theorizes communicative practice as repertoire and considers how people deploy their semiotic resources within the ideological contexts in which they operate.  It includes aspects of communication not always thought of as ‘language’, including gesture, dress, posture, and so on; it is a record of mobility and experience; it includes constraints, gaps and silences as well as potentialities; and it is responsive to the places in which, and the people with whom, semiotic resources may be deployed. Because social categories do not correspond straightforwardly to identifiable linguistic forms, we need to adapt our ways of seeing to understand the plurality of repertoires, styles, registers, and genres in play as people communicate. 

Translanguaging in research practice

A focus on translanguaging enables us to see how everyday practices and identities are rooted in the trajectories of the multiple communities to which individuals belong, and how they develop and transform. The deployment of diverse communicative repertoires is not only apparent in the social contexts in which we research, but is also manifestly evident in the research teams in which we work. Translanguaging is a significant dimension of research practice in some areas of social science, due to the increasing linguistic and cultural diversity of contemporary society. Furthermore, translanguaging, with its focus on communicative practice, can be studied from an interdisciplinary perspective which can raise difficult questions about what constitutes data, evidence, claim and argumentation. These collaborations across different disciplinary backgrounds, social and linguistic biographies, and professional contexts throw up key epistemological issues and questions relating to researcher identity and to asymmetries of power in the knowledge-building process. This residential will offer a forum for researchers across the social sciences who are working in multilingual settings to engage in dialogue about ways of working and to consider the issues arising from work in multilingual and interdisciplinary teams. It is also hoped that it will serve as a route into research on translanguaging for social scientists who hold a particular interest in linguistic ethnography. 

The 5-day residential course at Birmingham

The 5-day course will be organised into sessions, with different themes and orienting theories. The sessions will be led by different members of the TLANG team with our international collaborators from the University of Cape Town. Delegates must commit to full attendance over the full 5 days.

  • Session 1: Researching translanguaging: why, what and how? 

  • Session 2: Translanguaging as communication: a repertoire approach

  • Session 3:Translanguaging and superdiversity: an ideological perspective

  • Session 4: Translanguaging and social media

  • Session 5: Translanguaging and cityscapes

  • Session 6 and 7: Translanguaging in educational settings

  • Session 8: Translanguaging and multimodality

  • Session 9: Translanguaging in research practice

  • Session 10: Translanguaging, engagement and interdisciplinarity

Application Form

The number of participants is limited to 30, so early application is recommended. DEADLINE FOR THE APPLICATION IS 10TH FEBRUARY 2017. PLACES ANNOUNCED BY 10TH MARCH 2017. 

Download details of the residential (PDF)

Download the application form (WORD)

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