Key terms

Language practices

We consider language as a common social action inseparable from the speakers. Our actions linked to language are called language practices.

Linguistic features

The units for examining language as social practice. Linguistic features are combinations of semiotic signs – forms – and (semiotic and pragmatic) meanings. These can be words, multiword expressions, recurrent constructional patterns or even phonologic realizations. These units are simultaneously specific (concrete speech units, for example words) and schematic (abstract speech patterns, for example syntactic units), and are often the combinations of the two. (Blommaert–Backus 2011: 6).

Linguistic repertoire

On the one hand the linguistic repertoire is connected to the individual: it has a cognitive nature because our brain stores the linguistic features and organizes them into knowledge when they are being used. It is also somatic since it is shaped by the physiological-emotional condition of the person. On the other hand  it has a social nature as well because the semantic and pragmatic meaning of the linguistic features are formed by the social practices of a community, it is influenced by the other person’s emotions, furthermore it is shaped by social-political realtions. (Blommaert–Backus 2011, Busch 2012).


The term heteroglossia was created when Bakhtin’s work was translated to English (Bakhtin 1981). Bakhtin explained the social diversity of speech along three dimensions: multidiscursivity (Busch 2014) is the perspective of the circumstances: speech is determined by social, political and economical effects of the surrounding environment. Multivoicedness is the perspective connected to the speaker. Here the focus is on the speaker’s linguistic resources, e.g. the  variety of certain words’ individual usage. The emphasis is on how speakers take the uttered linguistic resources from each other while speaking and how these utterences are being conventionalized during the communication. Linguistic diversity is the third dimension, which concentrates on the linguistic resource itself. The importance of this perspective is the continuous interrelationship of linguistic resources grouped into languages and dialects in our mind: the particular languages and dialects are not existing entities but are to be understood through the tensity of opposite forces: can be grasped in the persistent synergies of centripetal forces acting in the direction of standardization and centrifugal forces aiming destandardization. The individually conceptualized imprint of these three elements is the apperceptive background which is the accounts created among speakers taking part of the discourse about the existence of the occuring cultural precognitions (Bakhtin 1986).


Translanguaging is a term labelling the language practices of speakers called traditionally bi- or multilingual. It is based on the idea that languages are not from speakers and social reality independent units, but part of the social behaving and are located and embedded in the social reality around and among the speakers (García 2014: 149). Speakers use several language resources in order to maximize their communicative possibilities. The language resources used by speakers constitute the language repertoire, which is one indivisible dynamic complexity (García-Kleyn 2016: 24-26). Instead of mono- or bilingualism, this concept considers the Bakhtinian heteroglossia (Blackledge-Creese 2014) as starting point of the description of language practices. Communication is a social act, language practices are context-bounded and culture-specific. Resources appearing repeatedly in language practices of speakers are always bounded to special social status and situations, which means they become enregistered (Agha 2007) as marker of Identity.

The Pedagogy of Translanguaging

Translanguaging refers not only to ways of speaking, but also to a pedagogical program, which develops the indivisible language repertoire of speakers by taking their translingual language practices into account (García et al 2017). It is a stance paying attention to the language on the lips of the speakers (García-Kleyn 2016: 21) instead of the language appearing in curricula and grammars. It has a dual purpose: on the one hand it is a possibility to encompass students’ language competences and school efficiency, on the other it changes the hierarchy of languages in school and in the country (ibid.). The Pedagogy of translanguaging is culturally relevant and uses multimodal resources. Teachers with a translanguaging stance by keeping the indivisible repertoire in mind provide several opportunities for students to use their home language practices and discursive patterns at school. The translingual instruction involves always voices from outside community of students – these are internal for the students, which strengthen understanding and learning (ibid. 22).


Agha, Asif 2007. Language and Social Relations. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Bahtyin, Mihail Mihajlovics 1986. A beszéd műfajai In: Bahtyin, Mihail Mihajlovics A beszéd és a valóság. Filozófiai és beszédelméleti írások. Gondolat, Budapest. 357-419.

Bakhtin, Mikhail Mikhailovich 1981. Discourse in the novel In: Bakhtin, Mikhail Mikhailovich The Dialogic Imagination – Four Essays. University of Texas. 270-422.

Blackledge, Adrian – Creese, Angela 2014. Heteroglossia as practice and pedagogy. In: Blackledge, Adrian – Creese, Angela (eds.): Heteroglossia as practice and pedagogy. Springer, Dortrecht, 1–20.

Busch, Brigitta, 2014. Building Heteroglossia and Heterogeneity: The Experience of a Multilingual Classroom. In: Blackledge, Adrian – Creese, Angela (szerk.) Heteroglossia as Practice and Pedagogy. New York, Springer, 21-41.

Blommaert, Jan – Backus, Ad 2011. Repertoires revisited: ‘Knowing language’ in superdiversity .Working Papers in Urban Language & Literacies. Paper 67.

Busch, Brigitta 2012. Das sprachliche Repertoire. Drava, Klagenfurt–Wien–Celovec–Dunaj.

García, Ofelia – Johnson, Susana Ibarra – Seltzer, Kate 2017. The translanguaging Classroom. Leveraging Students Bilingualism for Learning. Caslon, Philadelphia.

García, Ofelia – Kleyn, Tatyana 2016. Translanguaging with Multilingual Students: Learning from Classroom Moments. Routledge, New York.

García, Ofelia 2014. Countering the dual: Transglossia, dynamic bilingualism and translanguaging in education. In: R. Rubdy – L. Alsagoff (eds.): The global-local interface, language choice and hybridity. United Kingdom: Multilingual Matters, Bristol, 100–18