Towards critical translanguaging: a review of literature on English as a medium of instruction in South Asia’s school education

Sah, Pramod and Kubota, Ryuko (2022). Towards critical translanguaging: a review of literature on English as a medium of instruction in South Asia’s school education. Asian Englishes, 24(2) pp. 132–146.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13488678.2022.2056796

Abstract

English as a medium of instruction (EMI) has recently dominated language-in-education policies in South Asia while bilingual/multilingual practices have historically been the norm in primary and secondary education. Although the research on translanguaging is rapidly undertaken in English-only spaces in other world regions (e.g. North America), such studies are rare in South Asia. To this end, this conceptual article focuses on EMI research and policies in South Asia and discusses how the use of multiple languages or translanguaging is practiced in EMI classrooms, what kinds of scholarly judgments are given to such translingual practices, and what ideological limitations exist in translanguaging practices. We show that translanguaging practices are traditional norms in South Asian EMI classrooms but not necessarily a planned pedagogic approach. It is, rather, a spontaneous practice used as a ‘coping strategy’ of English language domination. We also discuss how seeing elite bilingualism (English plus a national dominant language) as translanguaging can be a liberal approach perpetuating unequal language hierarchies in education. Therefore, we argue that ‘critical translanguaging’ should resist nationalist and neoliberal ideologies that position languages and their users unequally, and instead protect the language, culture, and identity of those who have historically received marginalization.

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