Discourse-shifting practices of a teacher and learning facilitator in a bilingual mathematics classroom

  • Robyn Tyler University of Cape Town
Keywords: translanguaging, learning facilitator, bilingualism, classroom discourse, language learning, register


In bilingual classrooms, content is often learned simultaneously with a new language. Recent applied linguistics research has identified shifts in discourse made by teachers and learners as they work towards these two goals. Departing from a sociocultural perspective on teaching and learning, this study assumes learners and teachers bring rich and diverse linguistic repertoires to the classroom. This paper examines selected episodes of discourse shifts which took place in a week-long mathematics enrichment programme run by a non-government organisation in rural South Africa. In this Xhosa-English bilingual context, I undertook a small-scale ethnographically-informed case study in which evidence of and comment on discourse shifting was collected in the form of video and audio recordings of lessons and interviews with participants. The focus of the analysis is on the translanguaging strategies (especially register meshing) of the teacher and a learning facilitator as they work to make the curriculum accessible to the learners. The argument made in the paper is that the unidirectional notion of discourse shifting from more everyday, spoken, home language discourses to more discipline-specific, written, English discourses is not adequate in explaining the complex multidirectional shifting apparent in my data. 

Author Biography

Robyn Tyler, University of Cape Town
Robyn Tyler is currently enrolled as a doctoral student in Language and Literacy Studies in the School of Education at the University of Cape Town. She is also a teacher educator. Her current research interests are: bilingual learning in the Science disciplines and translanguaging and identity in discourse appropriation. Email: robynltyler@gmail.com