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Developing Educator Expertise to Work with Adolescent English Learners

Module 4 – Multilingualism in the United States and Around the World: Current Issues and Tensions: A Focus on the Conversation with
Ofelia García

By Haiwen Chu

OVERVIEW    |    INTRODUCTION    |    PART 1    |     PART 2    |    PART 3    |    REFERENCES

Part 3: Translanguaging and Learner Autonomy

Activity 3.1: Reading with a Focus: Yamaira’s Translanguaging Practice

Participants will: read a case study of classroom learning from a secondary student’s perspective.

Duration: Approximately 10 minutes of reading followed by 10 minutes of in-person discussion.

Reading: Translanguaging and Latinx Bilingual Readers (Ofelia García).


  • Read Ofelia’s article from Reading Teacher, which contains the bilingual reading experiences of three students in Spanish and English. Focus on Yamaira’s case (p. 561), which is set in a secondary social studies class. As you read, take notes on the following:

    • What is Yamaira’s translanguaging space?

    • How does Yamaira expand her autonomy as a learner through classroom practices?

    • What is the role of her teacher and peers?

  • With a partner, share your responses and reflect on the key conditions necessary for the kinds of literacy practices demonstrated by Yamaira’s case.

Activity 3.2: Module Reflection and Application

Participants will: engage in reflecting on their learning and applying their understandings to different students.

Duration: Approximately 20 minutes.


  • Write a brief personal reflection about everything you have learned so far in this module. You will briefly share these reflections with your peers before you apply and extend those understandings to a new scenario.

  • Then, break into groups of six. Within those groups, divide into pairs, with each pair reading one of the scenarios from the table below about a student in a class.

  • After reading the scenario, come back together as a group of six and discuss the following question: How do the forms of translanguaging offer students choice as they expand their autonomy?

Scenario 1

Scenario 2

Scenario 3

A humanities teacher, teaching an officially designated English-medium class, used several translanguaging strategies. As students in the 9th-grade class read The Emperor’s New Clothes, the teacher not only provided versions of differing difficulty in English, but also presented versions in Spanish and Mandarin, the two largest language groups in the class. Students were given the chance to read the version they preferred, and then

were given the opportunity to discuss the gist of the story in groups that spoke Spanish or Mandarin, before discussing the themes of the story and answering comprehension questions in English. Even during this answering of questions, students were continuously using their home language groups to support their meaning-making of the text.


(García et al., 2012,
pp. 810–11)

A Global History teacher, teaching an officially designated TBE class, implemented [flexible] strategies for a class of advanced emergent

bilingual Latino students, some feeling stronger negotiating academic texts in English, while others more comfortable negotiating academic texts in Spanish. Students were placed into groups of four in order to complete a jigsaw activity on the culture of Ancient Greece. Textbooks were available in English and Spanish, and the corresponding page numbers for each section were on the board. Each group was able to choose in which language they wanted to read the information. Some groups chose to read in Spanish, while others chose to read in English. This paralleled the choices they made for

writing, with those who had chosen the Spanish textbook, writing their responses in Spanish, while those who had chosen the English textbook, writing their responses in English. However, both languages were used for oral communication within each of the groups. Both languages were also used to debrief their answers with the class.

(García et al., 2012, p. 811)

A final example was observed in an officially designated English-medium Living Environment classroom, which also consisted exclusively of emergent bilingual students. In this classroom, students were observed reading from an English text, translating the questions for their classmates, and answering the questions in Spanish. The teacher encouraged the students to use their Spanish to get to English, pointing out cognates such as “parasite,” in addition to allowing students to make meaning of the dense English text through Spanish. This allowed students to understand the content better, and it made explicit how language skills transfer from one language to the other. This also had the affective consequence of boosting students’ self-esteem

in their emergent bilingualism.

(García et al., 2012, p. 811)

Activity 3.3: Overarching Reflection

Participants will: engage in an individual reflection about all the modules they have completed so far.

Duration: Approximately 15 minutes.


  • Look back at the previous three modules, which have included topics such as: important foundational concepts (Module 1), the power of labels (Module 2), and the role of oracy (Module 3).

  • As you compare these ideas with what you have explored in this module, what are some emerging understandings that are becoming clear to you? What are other areas where you would like to learn more perspectives and/or theoretical or practical approaches?


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