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Translanguaging on Facebook: Exploring Australian Aboriginal Multilingual Competence in Technology-Enhanced Environments and Its Pedagogical Implications
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Translanguaging on Facebook: Exploring Australian Aboriginal Multilingual Competence in Technology-Enhanced Environments and Its Pedagogical Implications Rhonda Oliver and Bich Nguyen Abstract: In this study, we explore how Aboriginal multilingual speakers use technology-enhanced environments, specifically Facebook, for their translanguaging practices. Using data collected from Facebook posts written by seven Aboriginal youth over a period of 18 months, we investigate how the participants move between Aboriginal English (AE) and Standard Australian English (SAE) creatively and strategically to express humour and group membership , and to identify as an Aboriginal person. We also observe how these practices have the potential to enhance rather than detract from their development of SAE. The findings of the study have important implications for teaching bilingual and bidialectal speakers in general and AE speakers in particular, highlighting the importance of creating a translanguaging space to enable them to maximize their knowledge and understanding of different subject matter and develop competencies in their various linguistic codes. Keywords: Australian Aboriginal, Facebook, multilingual competence, translanguaging Résumé : Les auteures étudient la façon dont les locuteurs autochtones multilingues se servent d’environnements technologiques, notamment Facebook, dans leurs pratiques de transfert interlinguistique. Examinant les données tire ́es de messages Facebook rédigés par sept jeunes autochtones sur une période de 18 mois, elles analysent comment les participants passent de l’anglais autochtone à l’anglais australien standard avec créativité et adresse pour exprimer leurs sentiments et leur appartenance au groupe, et pour s’identifier en qualité d’autochtones. Elles observent également en quoi ces pratiques ont le potentiel d’améliorer plutôt que d’altérer chez ces locuteurs la maı̂trise de l’anglais australien standard. Les constatations tirées de cette étude ont d’importantes conse ́quences pour la formation de locuteurs bilingues et bidialectaux en général et de locuteurs de l’anglais australien en particulier, ce qui met en lumière la nécessité de créer un espace interlinguistique leur permettant de maximiser leur connaissance et leur compréhension de différents sujets et d’acquérir des compétences dans les divers codes linguistiques dont ils font usage. This ahead of print version may differ slightly from the final published version.© The Canadian Modern Language Review/La Revue canadienne des langues vivantes, doi:10.3138/cmlr.3890. Mots clés : Australien autochtone, compétence multilinguistique, Facebook, pratique interlinguistique The advancement of Web 2.0 technologies applied to social networking sites such as Facebook has generated new interactive spaces that encourage multimodal interactive practices. In Australia, Aboriginal students have been reported to use Facebook extensively to communicate with family and friends, express their opinions and beliefs, enhance literacy skills, and construct social identities (Lumby, 2010; Kral, 2010, 2011, 2012; Oliver, Grote, & Nguyen, 2014). Facebook – with its various semiotic affordances, for example, digital, audio, pictorial , graphic, and linguistic – has enabled “the production of more fluid language texts” (Garcı́a & Li, 2014, p. 27). Given such potential, this study aims at investigating how Aboriginal youth may exploit ecommunication resources to facilitate interactions through translanguaging practices, which in turn may enhance their development of Standard Australian English. Background Translanguaging is a theoretical and analytical construct that has been adopted in recent years to examine bilinguals’ and multilinguals’ linguistic competence. According to Li (2011) and Garcı́a and Li (2014), translanguaging is a term used to describe the ability of mulitilingual speakers to move easily back and forth between their entire linguistic repertoire to engage in interactive meaning-making processes. In these authors’ view, therefore, translanguaging reflects a perspective that is both psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic in that it describes cognitive processing skills employed by multilingual language users, their linguistic choices, and importantly their interaction and development . Translanguaging thus encompasses a deeper set of practices than simply translation or code-switching because it is not just about finding parallel equivalents but instead involves complex analyses and accommodation of information to maximize both the understanding and the internalizing of the subject matter (Lewis, Jones, & Baker, 2012). In contrast to the concept of code-switching, which represents languages as separate independent codes, translanguaging represents language as a single coherent system from which multilinguals can draw to...