BI/Multilingual Literacies in Literacy Studies

Authored by: Angel M. Y. Lin , David C. S. Li

The Routledge Handbook of Literacy Studies

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415816243
eBook ISBN: 9781315717647
Adobe ISBN: 9781317510611


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As we embarked on writing on the topic of bilingual/multilingual literacies, we were initially stuck with the difficult question of how we could introduce a field of studies that seems to be undergoing rapid re-conceptualization and witnessing mounting tensions between not just old and new terms but also radically different ways of conceptualizing language and literacy practices. Traditional ways of thinking about literacies as manifested in the use of terms such as bilingual literacies, multilingual literacies or even plurilingual literacies have increasingly come under challenge by the rise of recent terms such as translanguaging (García 2009) and translingual practice (Canagarajah 2013a, 2013b). In what follows we shall first outline these new theoretical developments from early to recent work that has sought to break through the monolingual ideologies governing our understanding of literacy. Then we shall discuss how the recent re-conceptualization of literacy practices stands to highlight the heteroglossic social relations embedded in literacy practices. We shall illustrate these new conceptualizations of translingual literacies with examples from the case of Hong Kong where Cantonese, English and Chinese literacies have been mixing and matching for over a century. In the concluding section, the theoretical and empirical challenges facing the field now are discussed and future directions for research are suggested.

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