Translanguaging in the Case of Bilingual University Students


  •  Ali Alsaawi    

Abstract

According to Garcia (2009), translanguaging is “… the act performed by bilinguals of accessing different linguistic features or various modes of what are described as autonomous languages, in order to maximize communicative potential” (p. 140). Therefore, it is more about communication than language use. Bilinguals tend to employ their linguistic repertoire as an integrated communication system. In the context of this study, senior university bilingual students majoring in business in Saudi Arabia are usually competent in their mother tongue (Arabic) and in their additional language (English) due to the nature of business. They are keen to maintain their ability in English as far as possible as they consider themselves “long-term English learners”. Today, Saudi Arabia is increasingly building bridges to the outside world and clearly proficiency in English is one such bridge, allowing Saudi Arabia to integrate with English-speaking countries. Stakeholders in Saudi Arabia are now seeking English-proficient applicants for jobs, regardless of their speciality, more so than previously. This has become the norm in both the public and private sectors. However, bilingual university students majoring in business still tend to employ their mother tongue regardless of their proficiency in English. This may indicate their views and feelings with regard to the need to be bilingual in any future work context. This study focuses on senior business students at Majmaah University. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the students (n=14) and their instructor (n=1). This paper reports on the students’ attitudes towards bilingual activities, specifically task-related discussions, and the impact on their communicative repertoire from their perspective.



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