Translation and Translingualism in Language Teaching – 16 July, 2023

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How do we handle the multiple languages present in the language classroom. Three Kyoto-based speakers who incorporate translingualism into their teaching discussed the advantage of building bridges between languages, demonstrating projects that promote multilingualism while also championing students’ English development. 

This event was hybrid on Zoom and held in person at Campus Plaza Kyoto. It was co-sponsored with the JALT Bilingualism SIG.

Translation and Translingualism in Education poster


Speakers and Abstracts

Takako Ramsden

Kyoto University of Foreign Studies

Ukyo Voices — A community engagement project involving translation work conducted by L2 learners

The Ukyo Voices project was an extracurricular community engagement activity conducted at a university in Kyoto, with the cooperation of the Ukyo Ward local government, its residents and several organizations. 15 EFL students participated in this project, taking the roles of interviewers/writers/translators, website creators, or photographers. The goal of this project was to create a bilingual website to present the results of the students’ efforts, as well as to help the community promote their area. As for the translation part, the participants used a machine translation (MT) tool with the support of an AI MT developer company, and were able to experience the standard translation process for using MT, including pre-edit and post-edit stages. According to the post project survey, overall, most of the participants felt this was a very valuable experience, not only for the opportunity it provided for interaction with people from outside the university, but also for the L1/L2 language usage involved in the project. The presenter will outline the project, with a special focus on how the translation work was planned and conducted, and also introduce some spin-off projects that were later conducted using the Ukyo Voices project model.

Daniel Pearce

International Buddhist University

Plurilingualism, Translation and Transdisciplinary Approaches in Japanese Foreign Language Education

Language teaching practice has traditionally been glottocentric (Kalaja & Melo-Pfeifer, forthcoming), with a focus on the instruction of surface-level aspects such as vocabulary and grammatical structures. Similarly, in what has come to be called the ‘monolingual bias’ (May, 2014), there remains an “expectation that learners should eventually acquire competence equivalent to that of an ideal middle-class [monolingual] native speaker” (Kubota & Takeda, 2021, p.464). Such glottocentric approaches can lead to ideologies such as English-only, which can deny learners opportunities to explore and expand their full linguistic repertoires (Moore et al., 2020).

In this 21st century, there have risen a number of challenges to the monolingual bias, including translanguaging (e.g., translanguaging), grounded in understandings of how bi/multilinguals use language, and plurilingual education – pedagogical approaches centered on the notion of plurilingual and pluricultural competence (Coste et al., 2009). These conceptualizations have given rise to innovative language teaching approaches which employ linguistic, aesthetic, and multisensory aspects in more wholistic learning (e.g., Daryai-Hansen et al., 2023).

This presentation will first delineate the terms translanguaging and plurilingualism in foreign language education. This will be followed by a brief exploration of the role of translation in developing tertiary students’ language awareness, before two innovative, interdisciplinary plurilingual projects (the Chocolate Project: Oyama et. al, 2021; the School Lunches Project: Pearce et al., 2021), both of which aimed to foster language awareness in elementary school learners, will be explored. Discussions of the pedagogical outcomes of the projects will be centered on specific instances of translation.


Coste, D., Moore, D. & Zarate, G. (2009). Plurilingual and pluricultural competence. Éditions du Conseil de l’Europe.

Daryai-Hansen, P., Moore, D., Pearce, D. R., & Oyama, M. (2023). Fostering students’ decentring and multiperspectivity: A cross-discussion on translanguaging as a plurilingual tool in higher education. In H. Bosjen, P. Daryai-Hansen, A. Holmen & K. Risager (Eds.), Translanguaging and epistemological decentring in higher education and research (pp. 100–125). Multilingual Matters.

Kalaja, P. & Melo-Pfeifer, S. (Eds.) (2023, forthcoming). Visualizing foreign language teachers and students as monolinguals. Multilingual Matters.

Kubota, R., & Takeda, Y. (2021). Language‐in‐education policies in Japan versus transnational workers’ voices: Two faces of neoliberal communication competence. TESOL Quarterly, 55(2), pp.458–485. doi: 10.1002/tesq.613

May, S. (Ed.) (2014). The multilingual turn: Implications for SLA, TESOL and bilingual education. Routledge.

Moore, D., Oyama, M., Pearce, D. R., & Kitano, Y. (2020). Plurilingual education and pedagogical plurilanguaging in an elementary school in Japan: A perspectival origami for better learning. Journal of Multilingual Theories and Practices, 1(2), 243–265. doi: 10.1558/jmtp.17783

Oyama, M., Moore, D., Pearce., D. R., Kitano, Y. (2021). Plurilingual and intercultural education: A cross-disciplinary practice around chocolate in an elementary school in Japan. The Japan Journal of Multilingualism and Multiculturalism, 27(1), pp. 1–25.

Pearce, D. R., Oyama, M., Moore, D., Kitano, Y., & Fujita, E. (2021). Plurilingual STEAM and school lunches for learning? Beyond folklorization in foreign language and intercultural education. International Journal of Bias, Identity and Diversities in Education, 6(2), 33–57. doi: 10.4018/IJBIDE.2021070103

Oana Cusen

Kwansei Gakuin University

Translanguaging in the Classroom: Is it Time to Revisit English-Only Policies?

Translanguaging is a trendy term in multilingualism, as well as language education research. It was originally coined in Welsh by Williams (1994) to describe language switching in the Welsh language classroom, and translated into English by Baker (2001). Despite the subsequent wider application of the term to the language practices of bi/multilinguals (Garcia, 2009), attempts to formalize translanguaging as a pedagogical theory have continued. It has also been proposed as a way to end the debate about target language use in the classroom (Wei, 2018). In this presentation, I will draw on my experiences as a multilingual teacher of English to address the still dominant English-only policies in Japan. I will first reframe the ongoing debate over L1 use in the classroom as a consequence of the pervasive native-speakerism in English education in Japan. Furthermore, I will not only argue that we should end this debate, but I will also show how translanguaging can help move us forward toward a language teaching approach that involves and respects our learners’ language identities and linguistic repertoires.