Translanguaging in a township primary school: Policy and practice

  • Lara-Stephanie Krause
  • Mastin Prinsloo


We draw on a translanguaging perspective in this paper to examine teaching in schools where heteroglossic languaging practices in classrooms encounter less fluid language ideologies in educational policy and assessment practices. In an ethnographic-style case study in a Khayelitsha school, the teachers’ languaging in classroom teaching is shown to be fluid, mixing language resources, often in creative and helpful ways. One typical discourse pattern is that of ‘complementary translanguaging’, where resources are meshed without translation from one named language to another. On the other hand, ‘reproductional translanguaging’ also occurs, where meaning is first made using one set of language resources and then made again using another set. We find that teachers apply the language resources at their disposal with some skill to make learners engage with subject content. However, the institutional language ideologies that materialise in the school’s language policy and in testing regimes, turn such skilful language practices from an asset into a relative disadvantage. While aware that they are transgressing the principal’s language policy as well as knowing that their students are struggling with monoglossic examination requirements, teachers continue to translanguage for the pedagogic advantages this brings, despite the rigid, separatist language ideologies that inform school management.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9461
print ISSN: 1607-3614