Language and Sociocultural Theory, Vol 6, No 2 (2019)

SCT and Translanguaging-to-learn: Proposed Conceptual Integration

Heather Jane Smith, Leena Helavaara Robertson
Issued Date: 31 Mar 2020


This paper arose as a result of dialogue between researchers involved in a research project undertaken across England, Finland, France, and Romania. The research aimed to improve the educational experience for Roma children in school, who face sustained racism, discrimination and poverty, alongside reduced levels of access to and inequitable outcomes in education, by focusing on translanguaging as a transformative pedagogy. A close reading of the translanguaging literature revealed an oft assumed sociocultural understanding of learning. This paper is an exploration of the synergies and tensions between sociocultural theory as a learning theory and translanguaging as a theory of language in use and as a pedagogical approach in order to suggest a conceptual integration useful to both. In particular, we focus on the formation and form of Vygostkian inner speech, given its central role in higher mental activity such as learning. We examine movement between external speech in collaborative activity (and to oneself) to condensed inner speech in reimagining Guerrero's (2005) schema, by fusing translanguaging theory with Vygotskian notions of sense and meaning, and everyday and scientific concepts. We also consider translanguaging in joint activity in terms of neo-Vygotskian notions of cumulative and exploratory talk, arguing the usefulness of microgenetic analysis to reveal learning in action within joint activity. The paper therefore provides both a renewal of sociocultural understandings of language and learning, and conceptual tools for a more refined and robust articulation and analysis of the operation of translanguaging-to-learn.

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DOI: 10.1558/lst.36955


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