'Chicken’ in Somali class. Unbounded use of linguistic resources across a compartmentalised language curriculum

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This paper presentation focuses on the unbounded and playful ways in which pupils put their linguistic resources to use across a highly regulated and compartmentalised language curriculum. The paper is based on a linguistic ethnographic study focusing on language teaching across the curriculum in a Year 2 class in a public primary and lower secondary school in Denmark (Daugaard 2015). While Danish and English teaching is obligatory for all pupils in Year 2, most pupils furthermore participate in ‘mother tongue teaching’ in Arabic, Dari, Pashto or Somali. A multilingual and multimodal material consisting of fieldnotes, photographs and video and audio recordings produced through participant observation in the language classroom and supplemented by interviews with pupils, language teachers and school management forms the empirical basis for the paper presentation.While translanguaging practices have been amply described among adolescents and young people, I instead direct my attention to translanguaging in the early years of schooling. In the paper presentation, I zoom on one particular 8 year old pupil, Abdullahi, and follow him across the language curriculum – in obligatory Danish and English lessons as well as in ‘mother tongue teaching’ in Somali. Abdullahi occupies a complex position in class, simultaneously acting as class clown and being celebrated by his teachers and peers for his Danish reading skills. His linguistic practices are similarly many-faceted. While Abdullahi symbolically stresses the importance of developing his Somali skills, he during Somali class works systematically to create space for English language use and resourcefully draws on a varied range of Englishes as well as a broad repertoire of stylised learner voices. Abdullahi’s playful use of linguistic resources across the language curriculum challenges established notions about language competences and language teaching. Conteh, Copland & Creese conceptualise such established notions as myths about language teaching and learning which they define as common-sense notions with high intuitive appeal and strong impact on what counts as desirable language(s), apt linguistic norms and ideals, relevant activities and appropriate ways of managing linguistic diversity in the classroom. A linguistic ethnographic analysis of Abdullahi’s skilfully calibrated linguistic performances in the language classroom at the same time contributes to highlight and destabilise such myths about language teaching and learning.ReferencesConteh, J., F. Copland & A. Creese (2014). Multilingual teachers' resources in three different contexts: Empowering learning. In J. Conteh & G. Meier (red.), The multilingual turn in languages education: opportunities and challenges (p. 158–178). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.Daugaard, L.M. (2015). Sproglig praksis i og omkring modersmålsundervisning. En lingvistisk etnografisk undersøgelse. PhD dissertation, Aarhus University.
StatusUdgivet - 2016
BegivenhedTranslanguaging and repertoires across signed and spoken languages: Insights from linguistic ethnographies in (super)diverse contexts - Max-Planck-Institut zur Erforschung multireligiöser und multiethnischer Gesellschaften, Göttingen, Tyskland
Varighed: 20 jun. 201621 nov. 2016


KonferenceTranslanguaging and repertoires across signed and spoken languages: Insights from linguistic ethnographies in (super)diverse contexts
LokationMax-Planck-Institut zur Erforschung multireligiöser und multiethnischer Gesellschaften


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