Translanguaging: A Summary  

Translanguaging is baloney. There’s almost nothing in all the dross published that you should pay attention to. It’s a passing fad, a blip, a mistake, a soon to be forgotten episode in the history of ELT and applied linguistics.

Translanguaging, as presented by Garcia, Flores, Rosa, Li Wei and others is an incoherent, political dogma, i.e., ‘a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true’. There’s no way you can challenge translanguaging: you either accept it or get branded as a racist, or a reactionary, or, what it really comes to, an unbeliever. When you read the works of its “top scholars”, you’re bombarded with jargon and obscurantist prose that disguises a disgraceful lack of command of the matters dealt with. These people demonstrate an abysmal lack of understanding of Marx, or Friere, or Foucault, for example, or of Halliday even. They demonstrate an ignorance of philosophy, of political thought, of the philosophy of science, and even of linguistics, for God’s sake. They’re imposters! They talk of colonialism, capitalism and neoliberalism as if the very use of the words is evidence enough that they know what the words mean. They nowhere – I repeat nowhere – give any coherent account of their political stance. I bet they don’t know Gramsci from granola.

Furthermore, they give few signs of any understanding of how people learn languages, or of how ELT is currently organised and structured. Perhaps worst of all, they show a general ignorance of what’s actually going on in ELT classrooms; they contribute little of practical use to progressive teaching practice; and they are mostly silent when it comes to support for grassroot actions by teachers to challenge their bosses. They’re theorists, seemingly unconnected to the “praxis” they claim to champion. What, one has a right to ask, has translanguaging ever done to promote real change in the lives of those who work in the ELT industry?   

And that’s the top echelons – that’s the established academics! Go down a few hundred steps in the pecking order and take a look at what the academic wanabees like Ramjattan, Stillar, Gerald and Vas Bauler are doing. They don’t publish much in academic journals, but they’re busy on Twitter and other social media channels. I invite you to go to Twitter and see what they have to say. They delight their thousands of followers with a nausiating flow of “us-versus-them, we’re-right-they’re-wrong” tweets, plus blatently self-promtional bits of junk about how their eagerly-awaited book is coming along, and polite requests for money to help them keep writing. This is where you’ll see translanguaging at its rawest: thousands of people, all in a bubble, all convinced of their righteousness, all “liking” the baloney churned out by their scribes – a motley crew of puffed-up imposters.  

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