What is Translanguaging? 

Translanguaging is both a theory and pedagogical practice that affirms and amplifies the plurilingual abilities of newcomer and emergent plurilingual students. Rather than viewing languages as separate from one another (often referred to as “L1” and “L2”), translanguaging contends that plurilingual speakers draw from a single linguistic repertoire (Otheguy et al., 2015).  Translanguaging stands in stark contrast to standardized notions of academic language that privilege “proficiency” and force students to hide or erase elements of their identities and abilities as plurilingual speakers in classroom spaces.  We often refer to translanguaging as a stance, in which teachers operate as co-learners alongside students in order to welcome and embrace their multiple languages, model linguistic fluidity, and take risks (Flores & García, 2013). Put simply, when teachers adopt a translanguaging stance, they create transformative classroom spaces that empower students to bring their whole selves to the classroom, while simultaneously challenging and disrupting harmful ideologies of linguistic standardization. 

Translating, Code-Switching, and Translanguaging… What’s the Difference?

There are many ways to describe the ways plurilingual people strategically use language within and beyond the classroom, including translation, code switching, and translanguaging.   The image below, created by Ferran Rodríguez-Valls (2022), describes the relationships among these approaches, and the ways each can disrupt monolingual and monoglossic practices in the classroom.  For additional analysis of heteroglossia, including examples of students and educators' approach to languaging, in plurilingual classrooms, check out Radically Inclusive Teaching with Newcomer and Emergent Plurilingual Students: Braving Up.

Image credit: Ferran Rodríguez-Valls

What are the Benefits of Translanguaging?

Translanguaging is an inherently liberatory process rooted in critical theories and pedagogies of naming the world (Freire, 2018/1970) and social justice praxis. Studies have demonstrated that when translanguaging occurs in classrooms, not only do students’ communicative repertoires expand (García, 2018; Hornberger & Link, 2012), but they have greater access to curricular content and become actively engaged within the classroom (Daniel & Pacheco, 2016; de los Ríos et al., 2021). 

Teachers who adopt a translanguaging stance understand that languaging is a fluid and flexible process. As a result, teachers must creatively design translanguaging instruction in ways that honor and amplify students’ perspectives and practices while challenging “standardized” or “correct” forms of language  throughout their teaching and curricular choices (Fu et al., 2019). This stance requires teachers to actively and repeatedly interrogate their own ideologies about language while transcending traditional student-teacher relationships and power dynamics in order to co-learn alongside the plurilingual learners in their classroom (García & Seltzer, 2016; Martínez-Roldán, 2015). 

See how Project LEARN teacher, Yamila Castro, describes translanguaging in the slide show below:

Project Learn -Yamila Castro Teacher Presentation (Edited).pptx


Daniel, S. M., & Pacheco, M. B. (2016). Translanguaging practices and perspectives of four multilingual teens. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 59(6), 653–663. https://doi.org/10.1002/jaal.500

De Los Ríos, C. V., Seltzer, K., & Molina, A. (2021). “Juntos somos fuertes”: Writing participatory corridos of solidarity through a critical translingual approach. Applied Linguistics, 42(6), 1070–1082. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amab026

Flores, N., & García, O. (2013). Linguistic third spaces in education: Teachers' translanguaging across the bilingual continuum. In D. Little, C. Leung, & P. V. Avermaet (Eds.), Managing diversity in education: Languages, policies, pedagogies (pp. 243-256). Multilingual Matters. 

Freire, P. (2018/1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Bloomsbury Academic. 

Fu, D., Hadjioannou, X., Zhou, X. (2019). Translanguaging for emergent bilinguals: Inclusive teaching in the linguistically diverse classroom. Teachers College Press. 

García, O. (2018). Translanguaging, Pedagogy and Creativity. In J. Erfurt, E. Carporal, & A. Weirich (Eds.), Éducation plurilingue et pratiques langagières: Hommage à Christine Hélot (pp. 39–56). Peter Lang.

García, O., & Seltzer, K. (2016). The translanguaging current in language education. Flerspråkighet Som Resurs, 31, 19–30.

Hornberger, N. H., & Link, H. (2012). Translanguaging and transnational literacies in multilingual classrooms: a biliteracy lens. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 15(3), 261–278. https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050.2012.658016

Martínez-Roldán, C. M. (2015). Translanguaging practices as mobilization of linguistic resources in a Spanish/English bilingual after-school program: An analysis of contradictions. International Multilingual Research Journal, 9(1), 43–58. https://doi.org/10.1080/19313152.2014.982442 

Otheguy, R., García, O., & Reid, W. (2015). Clarifying translanguaging and deconstruction named languages: A perspective from linguistics. Applied Linguistics Review, 6(3), 281-307. https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2015-0014

Additional Translanguaging Resources


Castro, M. (2020).Translanguaging: Teaching at the intersection of language and social justice. WIDA. https://wida.wisc.edu/sites/default/files/resource/Focus-Bulletin-Translanguaging.pdf  

Devlin, T. M. (11 January 2022). What is translanguaging, and how is the concept being used? Babbel Magazine. https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/what-is-translanguaging 

Dover, A. G., & Rodríguez-Valls, F. (2018). Learning to “brave up”: Collaboration, agency, and authority in multicultural, multilingual, and radically inclusive classrooms. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 20(3), 59. https://doi.org/10.18251/ijme.v20i3.1670

García, O., Woodley, H. H., Flores, N., & Chu, H. (2013). Latino emergent bilingual youth in high schools: Transcaring strategies for academic success. Urban Education, 48(6), 798–827. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085912462708

Heiman, D., Cervantes-Soon, C. G., & Hurie, A. H. (2022). “Well good para quién”: Disrupting two-way bilingual education gentrification and reclaiming space through a critical translanguaging pedagogy. In M. T. Sánchez & O. García (Eds.), Transforming translanguaging espacios: Latinx students and their teachers rompiendo fronteras sin miedo (pp. 47-70). Multilingual Matters.

Martin-Beltrán, M. (2014). “What do you want to say?” How adolescents use translanguaging to expand learning opportunities. International Multilingual Research Journal, 8(3), 208–230. https://doi.org/10.1080/19313152.2014.914372 

Seltzer, K., & Wassell, B. (2022). Toward an antiracist world language classroom: A translanguaging approach. The Language Educator, 27–31.

Wagner, C. J. (2021). Teacher language practices that support multilingual learners: classroom‐based approaches from multilingual early childhood teachers. TESOL Journal. https://doi.org/10.1002/tesj.583 


García, O., Seltzer, K., Ibarra Johnson, S. (2016). The Translanguaging Classroom: Leveraging Student Bilingualism for Learning. Brookes Publishing. 

Sánchez, M. T., & García, O. (Eds.). (2022).Transformative Translanguaging Espacios: Latinx Students and their Teachers Rompiendo Fronteras sin Miedo. Multilingual Matters.