Publication |Sophia Linguistica

Applying Translanguaging Concepts in Language Education in Japan: A Discussion on Perspectives behind Recent Case Studies


Mitsuyo Sakamoto and Junko Saruhashi


In recent years, series of pedagogical suggestions and practices in Japan are beginning
to be based on translanguaging. By conducting a meta-analysis on two seminal works
on translanguaging in Japan (i.e., 佐々木 2015; 加納 2016), we argue that any language
teaching policy based on translanguaging should explore, before its implementation, the
extent of its applicability and appropriateness. Specifically, a careful look at the power
dynamism that results from the inception of translanguaging should be investigated.
Analysing from a critical perspective, the two papers, while providing important
insights, do not sufficiently consider the means to create a safe translanguaging space in
class that embraces idiosyncratic and creative language use by students despite the longstanding,
standardized norms that are still entrenched in current education. If the idea
of translanguaging is to replace those of codeswitching and bilingualism – proposing a
new linguistic resource and communicative process – it is argued that the power relations
induced by translanguaging would inherently change for the language users not only in
class but beyond – outside the class, and in the society.