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Hybrid discursive practices in a South African multilingual primary classroom: A case study

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The data discussed in this paper is drawn from research conducted in a multilingual urban primary school in Johannesburg, South Africa, where the official language of instruction is English and the majority of learners are African language speakers, frequently with very limited English proficiency. The paper presents a case study of one child who uses her own multilingual resources in order to draw her peers into the routines and meaning-making processes of classroom life. It explores the extent to which this learner, despite being in year one of formal schooling, uses hybrid discursive practices to cross several boundaries: adult-child; teacher-learner; peer/friend-teacher; English-proficient-multilingual. It considers the opportunities for peer participation in classroom activities created through the case-study learner's hybridising of identity positions and examines the way in which this learner "reads" the classroom environment and positions herself in the classroom space. The paper argues that the case-study learner is using her bi\multilingual resources to induct other learners into ways of doing and being at school, and as such to construct a classroom community.
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... In another study by Makoe and McKinney (2009), an investigation of both multilingualism and bidialectism occurred in a multilingual primary school in Johannesburg, South Africa, where the official language of instruction is English while African languages are used in social activities such as singing, drama activities or scripture reading. Despite the fact that the whole project was based on a single case study of one learner, and data were drawn only from field notes, the findings provided information on how the focus child self-positioned herself as the interpreter and translator of the teacher's instructions in order to draw her peers into the routines and meaning-making processes of classroom life to induct them into ways of doing and being at school. ...
... The differences found in the classroom routines among these three settings and the GAL learners' conformation to these routines indicates their understanding of how things worked in the particular class they were in and the influence of that setting on their behaviour. Previous studies (Kanagy, 1999;Long, 2002;Makoe & McKinney, 2009) seem to be in line with the findings of this study in that using various routines allows language learners to understand what is expected of them and that using them will somehow allow them to be part of the classroom group, while routines also facilitate their getting along process in the classroom. ...
... The use of CS, as its name suggests, involves the use of at least two languages together in the classroom. He follows a number of authors who have drawn attention to the productive use of deliberate or purposive CS even though not officially sanctioned by education authorities in South Africa (e.g. de Klerk 1995, Robb 1995, Versfeld 1995, Plüddemann et al 2004Makoe and McKinney 2009;Nomlomo 2003;Nomlomo and Desai 2014;Probyn 2009). These authors show how teacher and student use of CS so that students are able to gain meaningful opportunities to learn when the official school language differs from their (and often their teachers) home languages. ...
... Systematic CS has long been recognised in Africa, as it has in Hong Kong, to offer students the possibility of developing high levels of bi-/multilingual expertise and learning (e.g. Malherbe, 1946;de Klerk, 1995;Plüddemann et al., 2004;Setati, 2008;Makoe and McKinney, 2009;Nomlomo, 2003;Probyn, 2015;and Lin 2013). ...
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This volume is timely because what multilingualism means has become a pressing educational matter of concern in the first half of the twenty-first century. This concern is currently framed through several different understandings of multilingualism/s and vocabulary associated with the phenomena. While the understandings of multilingualism differ, there is a common purpose, which is how societal multilingualism/s might best be employed to benefit students in education systems of Europe, North America and indeed everywhere in the world. The editors of this volume, van Avermaet, Slembrouck, van Gorp, Sierens and Maryns, make it explicit that they bring together largely European perspectives of multilingualism and the passage of multilingual education because this is where the impact of current mobility of people is most obviously and visibly evident. Its visibility owes much to electronic, digital and printed media that are well-placed in Europe and other North Atlantic countries to reveal the challenges of diversity in administrative systems, including education. The editors expand European perspectives to include contributions of scholars with different experiences of multilingualism/s in education in Canada, the USA, Southern Africa and French Guyana.
... It includes carefully nuanced ethnographic studies of multilingual classroom practices that have revealed the purposeful nature of code-switching and translanguaging (e.g. Makoe and McKinney 2009;Kerfoot and Bello-Nonjengele 2014;Makalela 2015;Probyn 2015). ...
... It includes carefully nuanced ethnographic studies of multilingual classroom practices that have revealed the purposeful nature of code-switching and translanguaging (e.g. Makoe and McKinney 2009;Kerfoot and Bello-Nonjengele 2014;Makalela 2015;Probyn 2015). ...
... Monolingual middle class English speakers who continue to be entrusted with the responsibility of crafting the curriculum and education policies, and with writing textbooks, often with no consultation with teachers and learners "are often unable to see beyond their own limited language experiences" and tend to calibrate the curriculum based on their socio-cultural and linguistic experiences and practices (Reed, 2006;Bua-lit, 2018). The construction of African language speaking children as English monolinguals in language in education policies, in curriculum and assessment policies, in learning materials, and in pedagogy, is largely informed by policy makers' beliefs about what counts as good language use, and what counts as best in terms of languages for teaching and learning (Blackledge, 2000;Makoe & McKinney, 2009;McKinney, 2017). Since policy makers currently belong to the dominant classes in society, and thus to the classes which control the country's economy, their beliefs and ideas about what is good language use tend to be imposed on the rest of society (Nomlomo, 1991). ...
... The facilitator's practice of writing up each response in the language in which it is given affirms the children's language practices. Thus the facilitator uses a deliberate strategy to move children to an empowering space where they can become academic learners and language brokers for emergent bilinguals, especially the younger learners who are in Grades 3 and 4 and who have just begun learning English more formally (Manyak 2008;Makoe & McKinney 2009;Palmer et al. 2014). ...
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