Translanguaging in an academic writing class: Implications for a dialogic pedagogy

  • Hlaviso A. Motlhaka
  • Leketi Makalela


Academic writing for second language speakers remains a huge challenge for instructors and students worldwide. However, the rhetorical interface between English and African languages has hardly been explored to develop better translingual pedagogies for programmatic scaling. In this study we sought to explore the use of dialogic pedagogy, where Sesotho and English rhetorical conventions are code-meshed among first-year university students at a large urban university in South Africa. Drawing on the theoretical ideas of Bakhtin and Vygotsky’s sociocultural framework, this study is premised on dialogic instruction that is characterised by the teacher’s uptake of student ideas, authentic questions and the opportunity for students to modify the topics while using more than one language. Data were collected through metacognitive reflective interview of eight first-year students registered for a Bachelor of Education degree programme. The study found that dialogic instruction facilitates awareness in the students as they construct their desired voices in writing through the use of compensation and social strategies when they translanguage between L1 writing (Sesotho) and L2 writing (English). We argue that translanguaging is a relevant framework for academic literacy and that it provides optimal conditions for dialogic pedagogy in multilingual contexts. Recommendations for further research are considered at the end of the paper.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9461
print ISSN: 1607-3614