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Linguistic distance and translanguaging: teaching Malay-English bilingual learners

Viniti Vaish talked about teaching English to Malay-English bilinguals who are struggling to read in English.

  • 27 Apr 2022, 10.00am to 27 Apr 2022, 11.00am BST (GMT +01:00)
  • This is an online event.
  • This event is free

Viniti Vaish talked about her research, which applies the theories of linguistic distance and translanguaging to analyse the pedagogy of teaching vocabulary and grammar in English to Malay-English bilinguals who are struggling to read in English.

Dr Vaish offered the following abstract for her talk:

The paper explores how the teacher tried to create cross-linguistic transfer and how the students display metalinguistic awareness while responding to the teacher’s translanguaging stance, design and shifts. Transcripts from two classes of approximately half an hour each, in which the text being taught was The Big Hungry Bear, are analyzed.

The two classes are from the Learning Support Program, which is an early intervention program to support children who are struggling to read in English. The teacher looked for cues or junctures where she could create shifts and go beyond merely translating to teach vocabulary. She made explicit connections between the grammar of Malay and English through a translanguaging stance demonstrating a strong version of translanguaging. The students adopted the teacher’s translanguaging shifts to demonstrate learning of vocabulary and display metalinguistic awareness. The paper ends with reflections on combining the theories of linguistic distance and translanguaging along with thoughts on the directionality of transfer between the languages of a bilingual.

Viniti Vaish

Viniti Vaish has a PhD from University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. She is currently a tenured Associate Professor at Singapore’s National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University. Viniti’s area of expertise is the documentation and enhancement of bilingualism and biliteracy in early learners. Currently Viniti is Principal Investigator for a Tier 3 grant from the Office of Education Research titled: Biliterate Shared Book Intervention for Disadvantaged Preschoolers. Her most recent book was published by Springer in 2020 titled: Translanguaging in Multilingual English Classrooms: An Asian Perspective and Contexts.

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