Translanguaging Pedagogy in Continuing Education: Obstacles, Strategies, and Development

Wales Wong, University of Toronto’s OISE

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm (Room 235)


Despite the development of a translanguaging pedagogy for the past decade (García, Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017; Cummins, 2018) and the encouragement by Ontario’s Ministry of Education to use home languages in the classroom (Ontario’s Ministry of Education, 2005, 2008), teachers are not consistently utilizing students’ home languages to support language learning (Stille et al., 2016; Burton & Rajendram, 2019). Informed by the theories of dynamic systems (Larsen-Freeman, 1997) and translanguaging (Garcia and Wei, 2014), this paper investigates why there is a gap between the Ministry’s policy and teachers’ pedagogical practices and how a translanguaging pedagogy may be conceptualized and implemented within the context of an adult English as a Second Language (ESL) program. This study is guided by the following research questions: (1) What are ESL teachers’ perceptions, stance, and understandings of translanguaging practices? (2) How might ESL teachers implement translanguaging practices in their classes? And (3) How might plurilingual students in a continuing education program respond to translanguaging practices? A multiple case study (Yin, 2018) and collaborative action research design (Townsend, 2014) was employed. Data was drawn from a 9-week course co-designed by the researcher with the teacher participants for an ESL course in an adult continuing education program in Ontario, Canada. Data sources included interviews with the ESL teachers and students, students’ assignments and notes, teachers’ weekly reflections, and observations of online classes.

Professional development workshops were conducted with teacher participants. The findings suggest that teachers are willing to implement translanguaging strategies to benefit students’ learning and support the use of home languages in the classroom under certain conditions such the use of home languages as a scaffold for producing the final product in English. However, the analysis also reveals that challenges such as the recent pandemic, lack of time for preparation and delivery, limited professional development, competency with online teaching, students’ resistance, and personal events in teachers’ lives affected how teachers prioritized the implementation of translanguaging strategies. The findings highlight limitations to how in-service teachers implement a translanguaging pedagogy. Recommendations are provided for how collaborative action research can inform professional development to support teachers in continuing education.