Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Translanguaging Supports Reading with Deaf Adult Bilinguals: A Qualitative Approach

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Translanguaging Supports Reading with Deaf Adult Bilinguals: A Qualitative Approach

Article excerpt

Translanguaging is a pedagogical theory and an approach to teaching language. It conceptualizes the dynamic ways in which bilinguals use their linguistic repertoire and language practices in both languages for learning, meaning-making, reading, and writing. This study reports on the results of a qualitative study using Grounded Theory. The research question posed was, "what insights do bilingual Deaf readers provide regarding their metalinguistic processes and reading strategies used during translanguaging? To answer this question, responses were gathered from Deaf adults who were interviewed on their language and literacy histories. Further, they were queried about their reading comprehension practices using translanguaging. The researchers used videotaped interviews taken in American Sign Language (ASL) then glossed into English for analyses to examine how Deaf adults comprehended English expository texts. Based on the data analysis, the core category, "bridge to literacy" was revealed after identifying seven themes. Recommendations for future research using the translanguaging bilingual theory and practice are included. Keywords: Translanguaging, Deaf, Adults, Bilingual, Reading, Grounded Theory, Literacy

Translanguaging is a pedagogical theory and language practice that conceptualizes the dynamic ways in which bilinguals use their linguistic repertoire and language practices for learning, meaning-making, reading, and writing (Celic & Seltzer, 2011; Garcia, 2009; Garcia & Wei, 2014). As a theory and an approach to language learning, it extends traditional definitions of bilingualism by referring to ways that bilinguals use the features of both their languages to mediate cognitive, social, and language activities, particularly reading. Translanguaging is a language practice used by both emerging and more developed bilinguals.

This study is important because it examines the ability of Deaf individuals to read print through active participation using American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf culture in a "think-aloud" activity. In contrast, traditionally researchers have investigated reading and writing as a variable that is unrelated to the culture and experiences of Deaf individuals. Secondly, if we could enter the "minds" of skilled Deaf readers and ask them to reflect on their processes of comprehending English print and tell us about it, then we may obtain insights on how these cognitive, linguistic and metalinguistic processes occur. Such insights could be used to develop reading instructional techniques with young deaf children who are struggling readers. And thirdly, our study addresses the process of reading from a strength or "asset" perspective rather than a "deficit view." Typically, research in reading and deaf children has approached reading by looking at deaf children's deficits in phonological awareness, vocabulary, syntax, and comprehension of passages and texts (see reviews in Leigh & Andrews, 2017). This study departs from this deficit view and looks at the language and cultural strengths that Deaf adults bring to the reading process such as translanguaging, a strategy investigated in this study.

Translanguaging: A Definition

Originally developed in Wales by Cen Williams (as cited in Baker, 2011; Williams, 2002), translanguaging was defined as a pedagogical theory where students alternate their languages for purposes of receptive and productive use. The translanguaging theory was utilized by teachers in high school to teach academic content using two languages--Welsh and English. According to Baker (2011), this theory and resulting applied strategies provide the learner with critical thinking skills, a deeper understanding of content, and knowledge of lexical and grammatical structures of the two languages used. The aim (Baker, 2011) is to develop cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) in both languages. For instance, the students read a text in the majority language then discussed it with the teacher using their minority language. …

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