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Cluster of Excellence EXC 2052 - "Africa Multiple: reconfiguring African Studies"

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Multilingual African Learning Spaces: Translanguaging Practices in the Kenyan Classroom

Research Section



48 months (2022-2025)

Persons involved

  • Prof. Dr. Susanne Mühleisen
  • Dr. Billian Otundo

Short Description

Africa’s linguistic and cultural diversity constitutes both a challenge and a resource for the creation of learning spaces. The aim of this project is to provide a more detailed understanding of the ways in which teachers and learners relationally use translanguaging strategies in multilingual classroom interactions in Kenya. Recent research has focused on translanguaging of multilingual speakers who make use of their full linguistic repertoires, including features from multiple languages in order to meet communicative and academic needs in their languages (cf. Garcia 2009, Garcia & Li 2014, Hamman 2018). However, the precise processes and motivations to employ translanguaging strategies (codeswitching, code meshing, use of localized discourse markers and translation) in the classroom as ‘the very heart of the formal educational process’ (Jo Arthur 2013: 374) and the consequences for learning effects are yet to be empirically investigated. This study seeks to bridge the gap between the theoretically under-specified relational function of languages and empirical evidence for the effects of multilingual practices in the classroom. The results are expected to blur the dichotomy between the prescribed language of instruction (English) versus the practiced language(s) (ethnic Kenyan language(s) and Kiswahili) in both content and language classrooms. This research is relevant for the ongoing debate on Kenya's language-in-education policy regarding new possibilities and approaches in multilingual education (cf. Ogutu & Kanana 2003) which is highly important for disseminating knowledge. Empirical evidence is crucial here because policies are ‘socially constructed and dynamically negotiated on a moment-by-moment basis’ (Garcia & Menken 2010: 257). The project is situated in the Research Section Learning. It is hoped that it will create synergies with similar research issues on relationality and multiplicity aspects of communication in learning spaces in the Cluster’s ACCs.

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