(Research Discussion Forum of English Language Education Department)
UINSA Newsroom, Selasa (06/04/2021); In our Indonesian EFL context, multilingualism is unavoidable as the majority of students speak more than one language given the diversity of ethnicities and local languages. Considering this perspective, translanguaging is an important issue to further discuss as far as second and foreign languages are concerned. Having this in mind, the issue of multilingualism and translanguaging in Indonesian ELT context was discussed in the Research Discussion Forum of English Language Education Department.
This monthly discussion forum held on 23 March 2021 had Afida Safriani, Ph.D., as the presenter with the topic Multilingual Matters: Introducing Translanguaging. The forum which was opened by the Vice Dean for Students and Alumni Affairs Dr. Saiful Jazil, M.Ag, began with reflections of the audience on their experiences of being a multilingual, the languages they speak, the context of the use of each language and the switches for each context.
Safriani reviewed that there has been a turn in the area of Second Language Acquisition in which there has been a recognition of multiple languages in language classrooms. Diversity of languages is everywhere and can be an asset for language learning. Students, of course, may lack one of the languages when they switch languages and how their first language may interfere with their English language learning. However, we need to recognize that second language learners are multicompetent language users (Cook, 1995, 2002).
As far as multilingualism is concerned, Safriani further explained that multilingualism refers to ‘plurality or autonomous languages (bilingual) whether bilingual or many (multilingual) at the individual level (bilingual/plurilingual) or at societal level (multilingual) (Garcia & Wei, 2014, 11-12). Garcia (2009) proposed four models of bilingualism covering subtractive bilingualism, additive bilingualism, recursive bilingualism and dynamic multilingualism. Taking this further into the idea of translanguaging which is more about the discursive norms of and fluid language practices of bi/multilingual individuals or communities (Garcia, 2009). This translanguaging provides an alternative view of language and pedagogical tools in which one language is more dominant and functions as the language of instruction (Garcia, 2009; Garcia & Wei, 2014). Despite the benefit of translanguaging in encouraging students to express more on meaning making using multiple languages, there are also other viewpoints in which translanguaging may bring risk on the acquisition of the second or third languages. However, at the end of the discussion the audiences agree that translanguaging can be applied in a continuum from weak translanguaging to strong translanguaging. In assessment particularly in content courses, students can be allowed to use not only English but also other languages to enable them to have more meaning across. Hence, they will not be down-graded because of the language they use but they are graded more on the ideas that they present. (FTK/UINSA)