"We should not bury our language by our hands": Crafting creative translanguaging spaces in higher education in the UAE

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Applied Linguistics Research and Good Practices for Multicultural and Multilingual Classrooms

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Translanguaging is an established lens through which to understand the notion of multilingual speakers' use of their various languages and linguistic repertoires (Garcia & Wei, 2014) in communication. Although, multilingualism is a celebrated reality, many spaces, including those in education restrict student ability to use, think and learn in multiple repertoiresContrastively, research shows that translanguaging practices enhance learning in the classroom (Charamba, 2020; Daniel et al., 2019; Jones, 2017; Hornberger & Link, 2012) especially augmenting creativity and positionality (Hamman, 2017). This qualitative chapter describes an intervention carried out in UAE higher education classrooms in which undergraduate students were offered academic papers in English and Arabic and were provided the space to learn information through their languages. The medium of instruction in higher education in the UAE is English and faculty are usually non-Arabic speakers, meaning that students cannot always use Arabic in non-Arabic language modules. The project combined principles of translaguaging practice whilst focusing on learning through the medium of reading (Dalton & Proctor, 2007) for 15 weeks (semester). Data was collected through interviews (later transcribed) and written feedback, all data was content analysed to understand student perceptions and experiences (Mayring, 2004). The themes suggest that students found the intervention empowering and a more effective process through which to learn dense information quickly. The theme of pride for the Arabic language emerged whereby students were surprised that Arabic could have a non-relegated 'place' in the learning of complex ideas. Though the intervention served as a scaffolding tool to an extent, the overriding feedback from students was a renewed sense of respect for Arabic and their identity as bilinguals. Crafting creative classrooms that support multilingualism encourages critical thinking, enhances teaching methods, and empowers students to take ownership of their learning in an L2 environment.




Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

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Arts and Humanities


Arabic, Cooperative learning, Dalton plan, EMI, English, Translanguaging, UAE

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Open Access


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