English-Swedish Translanguaging in Multilingual Secondary English Classrooms: A Study of Students' Attitudes

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceeding


A pressing issue in multilingual education is when to draw on students’ entire multilingual repertoires to enhance learning and promote equity (Cummins 2017; Kramsch 2009). Classroom research on the learning of L2 English supports multilingual/translanguaging practices (Lee & Macaro 2013; Zhang 2018), but much of this research involves students who had acquired the same L1 prior to having classroom exposure to English (L2). This study breaks new ground by focusing on multilingual students with different L1s: They are either simultaneous bilinguals of Swedish (the majority language) and a minority language (such as Somali), or L1-speakers of the minority language, learning both Swedish and English in a secondary school in Sweden. We collected triangulated qualitative data in 2018 in two groups of students (age 14-15): ethnographic observation (14 English lessons), student interviews (N=18) and an interview with their teacher. With an analytical framework rooted in bilingualism/multilingualism (Baker & Wright 2017), concepts such as ‘language dominance’, ‘age of onset’, ‘heritage language’, ‘majority language’ and ‘school language’ were applied in qualitative analysis. The classroom observation data revealed that the teacher, being a Swedish-English bilingual, used mainly English when teaching; Swedish was used for metalinguistic explanations, translations of vocabulary, and information pertaining to task requirements and grading criteria. In the interviews, the majority reported that they benefit from their teacher’s English-Swedish translanguaging practices, particularly from task and grading information being verbalized in both English and Swedish. Students with lower proficiency in English expressed a greater need for Swedish. Students dominant in their heritage language expressed a need to draw on the heritage language, mainly when doing their homework rather than in the classroom. An important implication is that the students placed value in receiving information about task requirements and grading criteria in both the target language (English) and in the school language (Swedish).


External organisations
  • Karlstad University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Didactics
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch
EventThe 3rd Swedish Translanguaging Conference - Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden
Duration: 2019 Apr 112019 Apr 12


ConferenceThe 3rd Swedish Translanguaging Conference

Related projects

Marie Källkvist, Henrik Gyllstad, Erica Sandlund & Pia Sundqvist

Swedish Research Council


Project: Research

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