Pratt’s Dissertation Research

Kristen Pratt’s Dissertation Research Abstract

This four-year ethnographic study looked at the intersection of macro language education policies and micro enactments in order to contribute an in-depth analysis of translanguaging practices in a 3rd-grade, Spanish-English, dual language classroom. In this study, translanguaging referred to the normative language practices of bilinguals, which were ideologically, sociolinguistically, and ecologically situated as participants engaged their full linguistic repertoires to fluidly and efficiently communicate meaning as well as negotiate bilingual identities. Translanguaging was analyzed across the following contexts: (1) bilingual pedagogical practices; (2) participants’ bilingual language use; and (3) language within la comunidad de aprendizaje. Participants engaged in translanguaging practices for bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural determinations as language was authorized differently at different times for different purposes. Translanguaging, as a tool, deconstructed normative monoglossic ideologies and instead framed bilinguals’ language use through more heteroglossic frameworks repositioning bilingual ways of knowing, doing and being.

There were six primary findings from this study, which indicated that: in spite of the ostensible support for dual language instruction from state and district policies, deficit perspectives persisted in relation to emergent bilinguals and the educational programs that served this student population; the building administrator fostered an affirmative bilingual and bicultural learning community for teachers, students, and families where kindness and linguistic and cultural diversity were valued through additive perspectives; the use of translanguaging by both the teacher and students subverted the dominant instructional practice of language separation policies; the students and teacher engaged in metalinguistic practices which functioned to enhance their language knowledge and encounters; translanguaging in this dual language program served to normalize and affirm bilingual ways of knowing, doing and being as participants utilized their full linguistic and cultural resources in more fluid, natural and affirming ways; and finally, students enacted bilingualism and biculturalism in unplanned and unprompted ways that enriched their language use within the comunidad de aprendizaje and facilitated the development of their bicultural identities.

The study offered perceptible examples of the realities, tensions, and the hopeful promise of translanguaging within dual language classroom contexts for integrating partner languages in more natural and affirming ways in dual language contexts. The significance of the study builds upon our understanding of the nature of translanguaging in bilingual contexts as a constructive tool for language and identity development; it contributes to the methodological value of detailed simultaneous whole-class video and individual audio analyses in order to capture unregulated participant talk through naturally occurring examples; and it augments the current discussion around translanguaging by providing contextual, tangible and nuanced examples of additive translanguaging practices within a dual language classroom. The study offers rich insight into the empowering processes of becoming bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural through meaningful and authentic heteroglossic language encounters that allow bilinguals to engage bilingually as a normative practice positioned through an additive lens.

The implications propose conceptualizing classrooms through a more heteroglossic ideological position moving away from measuring bilingual education through monoglossic norms in order to subvert the notion of paralleled monolingualism which frames bilingual students linguistic repertoires as consistently inadequate by not authorizing normative bilingual ways of speaking, thinking, and engaging and thus further subjugating bilingual students, even in dual language classroom contexts, to dominant, monoglossic frameworks. The supplication here is to consider reframing the narrative through bilingual ways of being in the world while engaging in academic content and language learning and asking: How do educators move away from strict language separation policies while still creating space and time for the partner language in an English-dominant context? The evidence from this study indicates implications for educators in three areas: (1) professional development around what translanguaging is and why it matters; (2) curriculum mapping to more intentionally integrate translanguage practices across grade levels and curriculum; and (3) cultivation of teacher positionality in creating a bilingual community of practice through intentional lesson design and the use of flexible language shifting.