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Multilingual African Learning Spaces: Translanguaging Practices in Kenyan Schools

Multilingual African Learning Spaces: Translanguaging Practices in Kenyan Schools

by Dr. Billian Otundo (Uni-Bayreuth)

Thu, June 24, 12-14, Zoom 688 3186 6219, Passcode: 215819 (RS Learning)


This study investigates the attitudes that can influence the students' decision to either utilise or avoid translanguaging in different levels of interaction; the university classroom, within the community, and at home. Recent research has focused on the translanguaging of multilingual speakers who make use of their full linguistic repertoires, including features from multiple languages to meet communicative and academic needs in their languages. However, the attitudes and motivations to employ translanguaging strategies (code-switching, use of localized discourse markers, and translation) in formal learning environments vis-a-vis social spaces are yet to be exhaustively investigated. Grounded in classic theoretical approaches to communicative competence and the more recent theoretical work on translingualism as well as interliteracy, this research is framed with the following questions: (a) What are the views and perceptions of university students on a blended-language in the classroom, the community and at home? (b) How do university students’ linguistic background and personal language experiences play a role in their attitudes toward translanguaging? Given the restricted movement because of the Covid-19 pandemic, qualitative data to capture attitudes were gathered through virtual semi-structured in-depth interviews with five multilingual students at a major Kenyan university. To further enrich this study, quantitative data was also collected by administering an online attitude elicitation questionnaire to 50 students from the same institution. All the participants were sought on a voluntary basis. The results are expected to exemplify translanguaging practices in multilingual African contexts for learning processes and interaction in learning and social spaces to inform on the prescribed language of instruction (English) versus the practiced language(s) (Kiswahili and Kenyan ethnic languages). This research is relevant for the ongoing debate on Kenya's language-in-education policy regarding new possibilities and approaches in multilingual education which is highly pertinent for disseminating knowledge, even in higher education institutions.

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