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Translanguaging, Coloniality, and English Classrooms: An Exploration of Two Bicoastal Urban Classrooms


While current research focuses on the marginalization and educational crises of students classified as English language learners - whom we identify as emergent bilinguals (García & Kleifgen, 2010) - this article highlights some of the contexts for learning that help these students thrive academically, culturally, and socially in two urban English classrooms. We explore the concept of translanguaging (García, 2009a; García & Li Wei, 2014) through the writing of two students who took up this practice as a challenge to coloniality in English classrooms. We also outline how two secondary teachers in New York City and Los Angeles adopted a translanguaging pedagogy (García, Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017). Through our analysis of two focal emergent bilingual students, we demonstrate how a translanguaging pedagogy - one that puts students' language practices at the center and makes space for students to draw on their fluid linguistic and cultural resources at all times - is a necessary step forward in twenty-first-century English instruction. Our findings illustrate that the teachers' translanguaging pedagogies disrupted the inherently monolingual and colonial tendencies of English classrooms through curricula that promoted metalinguistic awareness and reflection about their own linguistic and cultural identities, and integrated students' diverse language practices to push back against colonialist ideologies. Our study adds to the nascent body of literature that translates theories of translanguaging into practical pedagogical approaches in secondary English classrooms.

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