Reference : Teacher education in translanguaging to achieve social justice?
Scientific congresses, symposiums and conference proceedings : Unpublished conference
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Education & instruction
Educational Sciences
Teacher education in translanguaging to achieve social justice?
Aleksic, Gabrijela mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences (FHSE) > Department of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences (DBCS) >]
Comparative and International Education Society Conference CIES
25-04-2021 to 02-05-2021
University of Pittsburgh
[en] professional development ; translanguaging ; social justice
[en] Multilingual and multicultural settings are an ever-growing reality all over the world. The potential of migrant’s multilingual and multicultural heritage can be unfolded if the citizens of the host country are open to it. However, immigrants are often confronted with cultural and linguistic supremacy while nationals of the host country are afraid of a loss or ‘dilution’ of their existing culture and language.

The increase of multilingual and multicultural settings as well as the difficulty in overcoming this fear impelled scholars of various sciences to conduct extensive research on the issues of marginalization and cultural imperialism. Researchers in educational sciences, most notably Li Wei and Ofelia García, have opposed the linguistic and cultural hegemony in education through the promotion of translanguaging pedagogy. Translanguaging as a term describes both the natural discourse of bi- and multilingual people through the use of their entire linguistic repertoire and the pedagogy that makes use of these unique linguistic repertoires of bi- and multilingual students to foster learning, comprehension and academic achievement (Celic & Selzer, 2011; Otheguy, García, & Reid, 2015). The use of a translanguaging pedagogy in multicultural and multilingual settings proves beyond useful to disrupt linguistic hegemonies and socio-politically constructed named languages by giving bi- and multilingual students a voice and space to prosper, learn and develop their bi- and multilingual identities (García, 2019). The need of a translanguaging pedagogy becomes necessary in countries such as the small trilingual Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. The culturally and linguistically highly diverse country with its three official languages (Luxembourgish, French, and German) sees a staggering gap between the school achievements of native and non-native children, forcing even the government to implement mandatory multilingual education in preschools (PISA, 2019). The development of Luxembourgish, familiarization of French and valorization of the home languages of the children have become an official requirement for preschool teachers since 2017. Given that 64 % of four-year olds in Luxembourg do not speak Luxembourgish at home, multiple projects and courses have launched to aid teachers in the practical application of this new law (MENJE, 2018). Thus, we developed our professional development course in translanguaging for preschool teachers in Luxembourg to support their work with multilingual children and their families. The disruption of the linguistic hegemony in Luxembourgish classrooms was implicitly carried through three distinct objectives of the project : (1) 18-hours professional development course in translanguaging to 38 preschool teachers from June to December 2019 divided into 7 sessions (multilingual ecology, home-school collaboration, multilingual brain, multilingual oracy and literacy), (2) active inclusion of children’s families to foster home-school collaboration through parents’ questionnaires and interviews and the promotion of partnerships between families and teachers in the course, and (3) support of children’s linguistic, socio-emotional and cognitive development and engagement in the classroom through early literacy and numeracy tests in the school and home languages, and video observations of classroom activities and interactions. As the goal of social justice was thematized implicitly throughout the course given that most teachers are monolingually and monoculturally biased to be confronted with the topic of cultural imperialism and linguistic hegemony head-on, we tried to assess the teachers change in attitudes through the use of focus group and questionnaires at the beginning and the end of the course. This is the present focus.

As the voluntary participation in a translanguaging course would already suggest, the preliminary results of our project show an overall openness of the participating teachers towards other languages and cultures and an awareness of the need of inclusion of the home languages of the children for the benefit of their development and well-being. The results from teacher questionnaires show that there was a significant increase in positive attitudes towards multilingualism (t(35) = -3.83, p < .001) and significant decrease in exclusive interest in Luxembourgish (t(35) = 3.45, p < .001), after the course. This openness and awareness do, however, not automatically translate into social justice as only a very small number of teachers was open to the idea of disrupting linguistic hegemonies and in the video observations unconsciously put all the languages at a same level. The majority of the participants did change their views about their multilingual students (from deficit to richness) realizing that the inclusion of children’s home languages and cultures is a valuable tool for comprehension, learning and socio-emotional development instead of only being a stepping-stone until full mastery of Luxembourgish is achieved. Yet, their strong focus on the development of Luxembourgish and its absolute untouchable status as the language that receives the most recognition did not change. Beside the linguistic superiority of Luxembourgish, even linguistic hierarchies became blatantly obvious during video observations, showing just how much work still needs to be done for teachers to truly interiorize the potentially harmful consequences of linguistic hegemonies and hierarchies.

It is our responsibility as researchers to continue to work with teachers, and involve parents, children, and their communities. Change in attitudes and raise of social responsibility and justice is a process. At this point of our project, we see it in fragments, and it is important for all of us not to disrupt it. If we do, the networks that we created will dissolve and the positive impact on multilingual children’s lives and their families could disappear. Therefore, we see two opportunities to continue the work on translanguaging pedagogy by: (1) organizing an additional training for teachers in which we will analyze the video observations to focus on power relations, and (2) organizing a teacher/parent conference in which we will facilitate the discussion on translanguaging pedagogy. Educational and social contexts are rapidly changing and we believe that our professional development course in translanguaging pedagogy is contributing to the process of adaptation to these changes by explicitly inviting us to be more socially responsible and fair. The Conference will give us the opportunity to present the final results and future directions of the project.


Celic, C., & Selzer, K. (2011). Translanguaging: A CUNY-NYSIEB Guide for Educators.

García, O. (2019). Translanguaging: a coda to the code?, Classroom Discourse, 10(3-4), 369-373, doi: 10.1080/19463014.2019.1638277

Ministry of National Education, Childhood and Youth [MENJE]. (2018). Les chiffres clés de l'Éducation nationale: statistiques et indicateurs - Année scolaire 2016-2017 [Key numbers of the national education: statistics and indicators – School year 2016-20167]. Retrieved from

OECD (2019). PISA 2018 Results (Volume I): What students know and can do. PISA, OECD Publishing: Paris. doi:

Otheguy, R., García, O., & Reid, W. (2015). Clarifying translanguaging and deconstructing
named langauges: A perspective from linguistics. Applied Linguistic Review, 6(3), 281–307.
Researchers ; Professionals ; Students
FnR ; FNR12637907 > Gabrijela Aleksic > TRANSLA > Translanguaging Programme For Teachers Working With Language Minority Preschool Children In Luxembourg > 01/02/2019 > 31/07/2021 > 2018

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