Why translingual spaces?

Take a look at the place where you are now. Take a look at the posters, decorations, signs, labels, products, books, magazines, ads, etc. that are in that space. Listen to the people who are around you. Who are they talking to? What do they sound like?

Whether you are in the cafeteria, a store, a restaurant, church, the doctor,  at home or in a classroom, you are surrounded by translingualism. If you are alone, reading this post, listen to your own inner voice. It is also translingual. La oyes?

Translingualism means that we do not speak and use one single separate and fix linguistic code as it is categorized and labeled with just one name, it means that everyone combines multiple codes, varieties of a language and/or languages when they communicate. It means creativity, conscious linguistic and rhetorical choices, audience awareness, flexibility and successful communications. It means that a second language speaker would never say again: “I can´t find the words to express myself”. Because she has the words, they are just in a different language.

Then why don´t most composition courses in higher education consider the benefits of translingualism? How can be promote the idea that translingualism is a resource for everyone, even those who consider themselves users of mainstream varieties of a language (English in this case)? The reflections, the research and teaching practices described in this website give account of some of the challenges, benefits and possibilities that a translingual approach to composition may bring.

When I look at the place where I am writing this translingual post, I see an open door with pictures, a poem, postcards and origami birds. Everything on the doors speaks to me in different codes and languages. Each of the elements on the door combines with the others in order to carry a global message: our past experiences, our homes, the schools we attended as kids, the postcards we received for our birthdays from different countries in the world, the people who wrote them, the pictures we took in those places, the people we asked to take a picture of us, the words we used to say that, the poems we read and made ours, constitute who we are.

Like me, everyone can open that door and believe in the power of combining all those elements. We cannot avoid who we are. We cannot separate ourselves from each of those elements, they travel with us, they speak with us, they write with us.

In this website, I invite you to open the door to enter the translingual spaces that surround you and see what is in them. Understanding where we come from and how we communicate will help us become more effective communicators, verdad?


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