Disrupting Linguistic Inequalities in US Urban Classrooms: The Role of Translanguaging

  • Ofelia García
  • Kate Seltzer
  • Daria Witt


This chapter argues that doing bilingualism in schools from the bottom-up has the potential to open up multilingual spaces in what are officially monolingual classrooms. Focusing on two U.S. classroom case studies––one a primary classroom where students are Karen speakers; the other, a secondary classroom where all students are recently arrived immigrants speaking 15 different home languages––the chapter describes how the teachers’ leveraging of students’ translanguaging disrupts the English-only hegemony of the classroom. Translanguaging pedagogical practice is thus described as adhering to four principles: a school-wide multilingual ecology, the educators’ stance as caring and co-learners, an instructional design of relationships, and a commitment to students’ deep engagement with learning.



We thank the leadership of PS 45 and the IHS@LAGCC for giving us permission to profile practices in their school. We especially thank Nicole Nichter and Amy Burrous for sharing their translanguaging pedagogy with us.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ofelia García
    • 1
  • Kate Seltzer
    • 2
  • Daria Witt
    • 3
  1. 1.The Graduate Center, City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.CUNY-New York State Initiative on Emergent Bilinguals Project, The Graduate Center, City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Internationals Network for Public SchoolsNew YorkUSA

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