Translanguaging as a teaching resource in early language learning of English as a an additional language (EAL)



Traditionally, language teaching has been grounded on a monolingual bias and the strict separation of languages has been conceived as a requirement to ensure foreign language learning success. However, the flexible use of one’s linguistic repertoire, known as translanguaging, has also proven beneficial in EFL settings (vid. Jones & Lewis, 2014).

The present study aims at examining translanguaging practices in early language learning taking into account the functions proposed by García et al. (2011). Qualitative data were collected in 3 sessions of English for 25 Valencian kindergarteners. Participants (aged 4-5) were in their second year at a Catalan-immersion school, where other two languages are taught as media of instruction (Spanish and English).

Results depict how very young language learners use their L1, L2 and L3 strategically in order to serve different communicative functions, without compromising their exposure to the target language (i.e. English). As a conclusion, we argue that a monolingual approach to teaching English as an additional language (EAL) is not a realistic picture of learners’ linguistic behaviour both inside and outside the classroom in multilingual settings.


translanguaging, classroom discourse, linguistic repertoire, early language learning, English as an additional language (EAL), multilingual education

Author Biographies

Laura Portolés, Universitat Jaume I

Laura Portolés is an Assistant Professor and member of the LAELA research group at Universitat Jaume I, Spain ( Portolés finished her PhD in Applied Linguistics under the supervision of Pilar Safont Jordà in December 2013. Her research interests include third language acquisition, affective factors, early pragmatic development and multilingual education.  She has recently published an international volume entitled Multilingualism and Very Young Learners: An Analysis of Pragmatic Awareness and Language Attitudes (De Gruyter, 2015).


Otilia Martí, Universitat Jaume I

Otilia Martí is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education and member of the LAELA research group at Universitat Jaume I, Spain ( Martí finished her PhD in Applied Linguistics under the supervision of Maria Pilar Safont Jordà in December 2010. Her research interests include the acquisition of English as a third language and multilingual education with a special focus on Infant and Primary teacher training, as well as the impact of the variable gender on interlanguage pragmatics.  She has coedited volumes on both fields of enquiry, such as Achieving Multilingualism: Wills and Ways with Maria Pilar Safont-Jordà (2008) or Refusals in instructional contexts and beyond with Patricia Salazar-Campillo (Rodopi, 2013).





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