Reflecting on translanguaging by a monolingual: Is that paradoxical?


This article is a reflection focused on Licona and Kelly’s (Cult Stud Sci Educ., 2019) paper dealing with translanguaging in science classrooms within a SSI context. I use a number of points that the authors of the original paper make to prompt my thinking about teaching in multilingual contexts, the most common type of classroom in the world. The original paper is a case study that has the advantage of dealing in depth with the specific details of the situation that unfolded. In this paper I try to place some of those issues in a much wider general context, something that is not available to the original authors since their methodology does not allow that to be done. I use my own work as a researcher of mathematics education (the crucial tale or tail-end of STEM/STEAM or maybe the foundation of the other branches?) both in Australia and Papua New Guinea and elsewhere to give a different context for this reflection, and occasionally experiences within my own family. I also write as a monolingual peering into the worlds of multilinguals, with all its inherent limitations and yet the position of many teachers and researchers. Taken together one hopes that these issues, first seen in the in-depth microstudy, then set against a much broader context, will help our peer community grasp again something of the importance of studying the language context of teaching/learning science.

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Correspondence to Philip Clarkson.

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This review essay addresses issues raised in Peter R. Licona and Gregory J. Kelly paper entitled: Translanguaging in a middle school science classroom: constructing scientific arguments in English and Spanish.

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Clarkson, P. Reflecting on translanguaging by a monolingual: Is that paradoxical?. Cult Stud of Sci Educ 15, 511–521 (2020).

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  • Translanguaging
  • Science education
  • STEM teaching
  • STEM learning
  • Multilingual
  • Spanish English teaching