Volume 3, Issue 1  April 2020, pp. 42–59          Download PDF

Special Issue: Translanguaging as a Resource in Teaching and Learning
Translanguaging as transmediation: Embodied critical literacy engagements in a French-English bilingual classroom

Sunny Man Chu Lau https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7626-44731

1 Bishop's University, Canada slau@bishops.ca

DOI: https://doi.org/10.29140/ajal.v3n1.299


Translanguaging highlights an interconnected use of languages and other semiotic resources for communication and knowledge construction. Everyday communicative practices involve processes of resemiotization (Iedema, 2003) or transmediation (Suhor, 1984), whereby one discourse or semiotic resource is transformed into another mode or a mixture of modes in time and space, mobilizing and rendering new ways of knowing, being and acting. Translanguaging pedagogy hence values the dynamic integration of languages, including the languages of arts for creative and critical learning. Translanguaging and/or transmediation of embodied semiotic resources, linguistic, visual or aural, gestural, etc. help disrupt the traditional logo- and verbo-centric notion of critical literacy (Janks, 2002) that privileges rational textual critique over aesthetic or emotional engagements. Such a trans-systemic approach challenges most deficit-oriented second language classrooms where critical literacy and/or expressive arts are often considered beyond language learners' abilities. Elaborating on a university-school participatory action research study, this article showcases the use of coordinated translanguaging pedagogy in an English-French bilingual classroom whereby the two language teachers collaborated flexibly to provide target language models while crafting a translanguaging space (Li, 2017) for multidirectional, pluriliterate meaning-making possibilities. Engaging children in a yearlong inquiry into the issue of refugees, the class read and discussed related literature in both languages while integrating visual arts to deepen understanding. Results show these embodied multimodal engagements opened up aesthetic spaces for students to be affected and to affect (Ahmed, 2010) others through their expressive arts, affording an alternative avenue of critical awareness and engagement that deepened reflexivity and civic empathy.


© Sunny Man Chu Lau

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Suggested citation

Lau, S.M.C. (2020). Translanguaging as transmediation: Embodied critical literacy engagements in a French-English bilingual classroom. Australian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 3(1), 42–59. https://doi.org/10.29140/ajal.v3n1.299

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