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Translanguaging pedagogy is gaining widespread recognition as an approach that recognizes and builds on multilingual students’ linguistic resources. Research on translanguaging pedagogy has predominantly focused on classroom language practices, while studies on the design and enactment of translanguaged instruction are limited. This pilot study contributes to the knowledge base on translanguaged instruction through the design, implementation, and examination of students’ engagement with the content taught in a set of translanguaged lessons. These lessons were based on a language-based English reading curriculum for Spanish-English bilingual upper elementary students. Our approach to translanguaging pedagogy was characterized by: a) use of bilingual texts; b) flexible language use; and c) bilingual language instruction. This article focuses on the lessons that addressed morphology and syntax instruction. Within an ethnomethodological approach, the discourse and interactions during the morphology and syntax instruction components of the lesson-cycles were examined to understand how students engaged with the language structures taught, and how translanguaging manifested in their talk about language. Our analyses revealed translanguaging as enabling students to perform linguistic analyses in which they: (a) established connections between English and Spanish morphemes; b) compared English and Spanish morphology and syntax; and c) explored alternative syntactic structures. As such, translanguaged instruction supported students’ metalinguistic awareness and cognitive engagement, and enabled them to position themselves as expert linguists. This study provides evidence about the affordances of translanguaged literacy instruction, which is needed to continue stimulating the ideological shift from monolingual to multilingual perspectives in the education of bilingual students.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Ossa Parra, Marcela, and Patrick Proctor. "Translanguaging to Understand Language," TESOL Quarterly, vol. 55, no. 3, 2021, pp. 766-794. which has been published in final form at

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