The Linguist

The Linguist 59,5 - October/November 2020

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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20 The Linguist Vol/59 No/5 2020 FEATURES Valentina Carbonara and Andrea Scibetta consider how to integrate translanguaging into mainstream education H ow do you give a voice to the multilingual repertoires of students in schools and promote language rights in a school setting? That is the starting point for the L'AltRoparlante project 1 – a transformative-action initiative in schools across Italy that is based on translanguaging pedagogy. 2 Diversity and multilingualism are regular conditions in Italian schools. Around 17% of students come from migrant backgrounds, including first- and second-generation immigrants and mixed-heritage pupils, compared to the EU average of 21.5%. In terms of bottom-up language policy, associations of teachers and scholars have encouraged pupils to use their entire linguistic repertoires, including dialects, since the 1970s, even in formal curricular activities. From a top-down point of view, however, institutions have neglected the importance of language diversity for decades. The Italian school system does appear to be moving towards more inclusive pedagogical praxes in terms of promoting multilingualism. L'AltRoparlante began in 2016 in five schools across central and northern Italy with a high percentage of emergent bilinguals (i.e pupils who are in the process of acquiring a home language and the dominant one of the country). Such children contribute to language plurality in these schools, where a wide range of languages are spoken, including local dialects. The proportion of pupils with a migrant background varies from 28% to 72%, far above the national average. In most cases, there is a remarkable number of students who have recently arrived from other countries. Serving more than 700 children and around 70 teachers, the project takes its name from the words altro ('the other'; understanding 'otherness' as a resource) and altoparlante ('loudspeaker'). Primary schools (ages 6-11) were the main focus initially, as they usually have the highest number of emergent bilinguals, but since 2017, kindergartens (ages 3-6) and middle schools (ages 11-14) have also been involved. The early stages involved preliminary professional development sessions; the design of activities with different degrees of complexity based on translanguaging pedagogy; and the sharing of relevant practices during regular meetings with teachers from the participating schools. With a transformative-action approach, pedagogy and research are intertwined. Researchers and teachers are actively involved in this 'common ground' aimed at negotiating pedagogical content and strategies. Introducing activities Translanguaging-based activities are introduced methodically and gradually. The teacher finds out what languages are spoken by the children and introduces awareness- raising activities about language plurality. A symbolic legitimisation of languages other than the dominant ones (usually Italian and English) follows. Finally, a full educational legitimisation of multilingualism can be achieved by integrating translanguaging activities into the ordinary curriculum. In order to construct a multilingual environment inside and outside of the classroom, it is important to modify the linguistic schoolscape. An early stage therefore involves creating visible materials containing all the languages of the class (e.g. word walls and mind maps regarding different subjects and topics), and displaying them in the classroom and communal spaces. This represents the first step towards the educational legitimisation of language plurality. When languages are visible it is easier to raise and sustain awareness of the importance of multilingual repertoires. After creating a linguistic schoolscape, the first multimodal activities are usually carried out with the help of parents. Teachers and researchers organise storytelling activities using existing materials (such as bilingual books) and by translating stories into heritage languages with the help of cultural mediators and/or parents. Follow-up activities might involve the analysis of the stories through a multilingual lens, generally conducted in linguistically mixed groups of students with the aim of developing metalinguistic skills (i.e. the ability to consciously reflect on language use). Further activities include bilingual summaries, multilingual dramas and creative writing in the languages of the class. In the next stage, students can be asked to follow procedures with instructions in many languages – orienteering, games and science experiments work well for these task-based activities. Pupils are capable of exploring a variety of texts, including narrative, Plurality in class

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