Studying Bilinguals and their Education: A translanguaging-informed critique of research

Our understanding of bi/multilingualism and the education of those students has been often obscured by traditional western research that is structured a priori and proceeds in a linear fashion. This research is conceptually circular. It responds to a western epistemology and theory of bilingualism as the addition of a first and second language and diglossic practices; and then reproduces these understandings as findings. The result of traditional applied linguistic research, whether qualitative or quantitative, has often been the continued misunderstandings of the linguistic/semiotic practices of racialized bilinguals in and out of classrooms.

Researchers with a different locus of enunciation (Mignolo, 2000) than that of white western scholars have started to disrupt the colonial logic that has permeated applied linguistic research, making it difficult to view and uncover the linguistic creativity and criticality (Li Wei, 2011) of racialized bi/multilinguals in society and schools. Taking a translanguaging theory-informed view of research on multilingual practices, we highlight in this presentation another way of looking and researching. We present here translanguaging-informed research practices that reveal and uncover interactional/ teaching/learning contexts in classrooms where racialized multilingual students thrive.  In researching “otherwise,” we uncover alternative views of pedagogical policies and practices that disclose another reality and brings us closer to social and cognitive justice for racialized bilinguals.

Professor Emerita Ofelia GARCÍA

Ofelia García is Professor Emerita in the Ph.D. programs in Urban Education and Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She has also been Professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College and The City College of New York, and Dean of the School of Education at the Brooklyn Campus of Long Island University. García has published widely in the areas of language education, bilingualism and bilingual education, sociology of language, and language policy.  Among her best-known books are Bilingual Education in the 21st Century: A Global Perspective; and Translanguaging; Language, Bilingualism and Education (with Li Wei), which received the 2015 British Association of Applied Linguistics Award. The American Educational Research Association has awarded her the Lifetime Achievement Award, Division G, Distinguished Contributions to Social Contexts in Education Research (2019-2020), the Second Language Acquisition SIG Leadership through Research Award (2020), and the Bilingual Education SIG Lifetime Career Award (2017). In 2017 she received the Charles Ferguson Award in Applied Linguistics. In 2016 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bank Street Graduate School of Education. And in 2022 she was awarded the Award of the Association of Language Departments (ALD) of the Modern Language Association for Distinguished Service to the Profession. She has been appointed to the National Academy of Education. She has also been the General Editor of the International Journal of the Sociology of Language and the co-editor of Language Policy (with H. Kelly-Holmes).  Her curriculum vitae and other information could be found at