A sociolinguistic analysis of the effective translanguaging strategies of some first year bilingual students at University of the Western Cape (UWC)
In South Africa's educational system, many learners' academic literacy is substantially affected by the multi-language background and its inconsiderate language policies. From time to time, South African Education board have formulated, amended and re- implemented language policies to guide the use of language in learning and teaching in schools, in order to enhance the notion of academic bi literacy. However in different areas, some of these language policies had their successes and failures. Amongst the educational language policy for each university in South Africa, the University of the Western Cape (UWC) began its language policy implementation in 2003. Despite the aim and objective of this policy over a decade ago, students are still struggling to effectively learn in the language of instruction. And the fact remains that problem of students' language proficiency leads to poor academic literacy and performance during their undergraduate study period. In this study, I seek to investigate the effective translanguaging strategies of some undergraduate bilingual students at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). It will focus on how the two closely intertwined sociolinguistic aspects: translanguaging and bilingualism impact on students' academic collaboration. The theoretical framework will draw on Weiner's attribution theory of motivation (1974, 1986). The conceptual framework that will be used will cover: language proficiency, additive and subtractive bilingualism, translanguaging and learning strategies. The main aim of this proposed project is to examine how effective translanguaging is as coping learning strategies by some bilingual students at University of the Western Cape (UWC). I propose the following research objectives: (i) to determine the forms of challenge(s) faced by bilingual students learning in a less proficient language at UWC (ii.) to investigate and analyze the translanguaging strategies that might assist bilingual students cope with learning in a less proficient language at UWC (iii.) to examine the patterns of use of translanguaging strategies on academic collaboration of bilingual students’ at UWC (iv.) to find out areas in which the practice of translanguaging strategies differs to the stipulations of the UWC language policy. I plan to use a qualitative method to achieve my research objectives. I adopted interpretive/ constructive approach in my study. The research techniques that I use includes: questionnaires, interviews, observations and document analysis. A semi structured questionnaire is given to thirty (30) first year bilingual undergraduates from three (3) tutorials groups in the Faculty of Education. The interviews were face to face and semi-structured. The interviews conducted with each of the 12 students are intended to know their linguistic background and how it plays a role during their first year of undergraduate study. Two out of the three groups are randomly selected and closely observed. The classroom observation helps me to identify the types of translanguaging strategies used by bilingual students and also see the various patterns in which the translanguaging strategies are used during their academic collaboration. The three documents use for analysis are the UWC language policy (2003) and two different academic tasks of my participants. All ethics for my study was strictly adhere to. I categorize my findings according to the research questions and the four questions serve as main themes during data analysis. The data findings of my study indicate that during the first term, most first year bilingual student had difficulty in the use of English medium of instruction. Some of the language related challenges include English academic writing, inadequate vocabulary in English and accent and pronunciation of other bilingual speakers in English. This shows that there is the need for the struggling bilingual students to adopt learning strategies. Translanguaging strategies were minimally used during in class activities. This suggests that bilingual students did not see the justification to adopt translanguaging in the classroom. However, it was used outside of the tutorial space and other academic collaboration amongst students for various purposes. My research shows that majority of the first year bilingual undergraduate students’ benefit from the use of translanguaging as coping learning strategies. Data findings also reveal that the first year bilingual undergraduate students are more motivated to add to their translanguaging strategies, other metacognitive learning strategies that they consider as helpful and related to their specific language challenges. The conclusion of my thesis is that as much as the adoption of translanguaging strategies is a useful language support for bilingual students, there are contributory factors that can make its use a success or failure in educational context. The most pertinent of these factors are translanguaging space and the complement of translanguaging in schools' language policy. I recommend that translanguaging using speaking skills of bilingual students should be put to use during teaching and learning in a recognized learning space.