Many of us have experienced the monolingual strategy of being forced to use only the target language. Creese and Blackledge (2010) refer to this as the language separation strategy. As stated in Cummins’ research, “It is simply assumed that the two languages should occupy separate instructional (and cognitive) spaces.” (2007, p. 224). This assumption has been prevalent in bilingual education programs.
Incorporating new research means employing bilingual strategies in addition to the monolingual “French only” strategy. As implied by the term “immersion”, there is an assumption that instruction should be entirely in the target language, translation between languages is not appropriate and the two languages should be kept entirely separate (Cummins, 2014). Contrary to popular practice, the strict enforcement of L2 can limit language learning (Swain & Lapkin, 2013) and the negotiation of those rules is even more impactful (Swain, 2012) with older students (ages nine and up).
Translanguaging is the simultaneous use of two languages to convey meaning. The transition between languages is fluid and intentional. By employing both languages, deeper meaning is achieved. Both languages are required for the message to be understood in its entirety. It is a bilingual pedagogy that is based on bilinguals’ natural movement between languages, but is dependent on outside influences such as the ecology of the classroom, the sociocultural context and historical context.
Translanguaging allows students to use their entire linguistic repertoire in concert (in contrast to the separation of languages). It also allows teachers to negotiate the range of proficiencies in his/her class. Connections are made between all domains of a student’s life and the emphasis is on the overlapping of languages rather than the separation of languages.
A flexible bilingualism pedagogy uses a translanguaging approach to involve and engage students and to keep the task moving forward. Both teachers and students use whatever fits best to connect and communicate with each other. Teachers are cognizant of a student’s level of bilingualism. He/she takes the student’s range and limitations into consideration. The teacher also clearly lays out the expectations for the use of L1 & L2 languages so that the students can confidently work within these parameters to complete tasks bilingually.
"In our research, we also find examples of the need for both languages, for the drawing across languages, for the additional value and resource that bilingualism brings to identity performance, lesson accomplishment, and participant confidence."
(Creese & Blackledge, 2010, p. 112)