Zhu Hua

Translanguaging space and embodied teaching/learning: Lessons from a multilingual Karate club in London 

Zhu Hua, Birkbeck College, University of London

A translanguaging space is a space created by and for translanguaging practices (Li Wei, 2011). It is not only a space where different repertories, resources, histories, experiences and identities come into contact, but also a space where various semiotic resources, such as gestures, touch, visual cues, sounds, artefacts, and images, in addition to linguistics ones, are coordinated and integrated.  The purpose of this talk is to explore the implications of the notion of translanguaging space for language learning and teaching though a detailed examination of the strategic uses of embodied semiotic resources in the multilingual interactions in a multi-ethnic Karate club in East London. The Karate lessons are taught by a Polish Roma sensei who speaks Polish and Romani with some basic English, and attended by children of a variety of language and ethnic backgrounds, the majority of whom do not speak Polish or Romani.  Using the data collected through a four-month team ethnography as part of a larger project on linguistic transformations in urban centres of Britain, it is found that a range of linguistic and multimodal repertories such as Polish, English, Japanese, gestures, colours, movements are mobilised when the coach instructs, informs, elaborates, disciplines or interacts with his students.  There is a strong emphasis on learning and performing Japanese Karate terms through a combination of embodied actions and repetition.  Such dynamic translanguaging practices serve the purpose of the Karate club envisaged by the coach. They also demonstrate how flexible multilingual practices and embodied actions of teachers and students can facilitate learning. The talk will conclude with reflections on what learning opportunities can be created though embodied teaching. 

Zhu Hua is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Communication and Head of Department at Birkbeck College, University of London.  Her research interests are intercultural and multilingual communication and migration. She is the author of Exploring Intercultural Communication: Language in Action (2014, Routlege) and editor of Research Methods in Intercultural Communication (2016, Blackwell), and Crossing Boundaries and Weaving Intercultural Work, Life, and Scholarship in Globalizing Universities (2016, Routledge, with Adam Komisarof). She is joint Series editor for Routledge Studies in Language and Intercultural Communication (Routledge, with Claire Kramsch). 

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