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Do you have to teach English only in English?

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Despite the change in direction towards methodologies that prioritize interaction and communication for the teaching of foreign languages, we remain anchored and constrained in the paradigm of the use of a single language to teach that same language. Today we know that in the nature of the human being there is no room for compartmentalized languages ​​and that the limits that are drawn between them are social inventions.

Emotionally intelligent teachers understand this flow of resources and communication skills with the strategic use of their linguistic repertoire in the teaching of foreign languages, since it serves as a scaffolding and as a tool that transmits security, closeness and flexibility in learning.

In Spain, the level of command of foreign languages ​​in general (and English in particular), although it has improved, is still our pending subject. And, perhaps, this is the handicap, that is, thinking about individualized subjects and not understanding the teaching-learning process, also of a foreign language, from transversality and interdisciplinarity.

Emotional intelligence helps us to understand that in bilingual and multilingual environments creativity is inherent in the flexible use of languages ​​by all participants in the educational process, which fosters solid and meaningful learning.

Translingualism in the educational field

Practically half of the Spaniards live in an autonomous community with more than one language; To this must be added globalization, the trend towards internationalization through learning foreign languages, and the linguistic diversity of people residing in Spanish territory from other countries with different cultural and linguistic contexts.

Why then turn your back on this linguistic reality assuming that it is detrimental to learning the main foreign language in Spain, such as English? In fact, the proliferation of bilingual educational centers is just another indication of the inherent benefits of the use of languages ​​on a cognitive and emotional level.

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Furthermore, it is sometimes the case that there are English students who know what they want to say, but who lose their voice in the classroom due to the influence of an imposed monolingualism that does not allow them to express themselves using their own linguistic and semiotic tools.

Importance of motivation and self-esteem

This is the last thing that university teachers, after-school educators or English teachers in the different stages of compulsory education can afford, being aware of the importance of motivation and self-esteem in learning any area, and of the foreign language. , English, especially.

Translingualism consists in the use of the linguistic repertoire of the individual in its entirety to communicate, without taking into account the social and political limits defined and associated with languages ​​and understanding linguistic communication from an internal perspective of the individual.

Translingualism favors, therefore, the person who learns and what happens in his brain, while the simple exchange of languages ​​or what is called code-switching, prioritizes social evaluation from a perspective external to the learner.

It also offers an epistemologically different alternative that is based on the idiolect of each speaker, and offers the potential to expand and unleash all the linguistic and semiotic resources of the individual learner. The flexible use of languages ​​from an internal perspective of the participants is a practice, although not legitimized, common in educational centers and that occurs spontaneously in the flow of oral interaction.

This use of languages, together with active English teaching methodologies in which communication prevails, can be planned giving rise to a pedagogical translingualism that can be implemented in different educational stages and teaching cycles. Although apparently paradoxical, translingualism can go hand in hand with the protection and promotion of minority languages.

In education, translingualism is the acceptance that languages ​​can complement and be used together in the classroom rather than competing against each other. Teachers can strategically plan the use of two or more languages ​​for instruction.

There are various strategies to integrate translingualism in the classroom, one of which consists of alternating the language used for comprehension and the one that, once the input is processed, is used in the expression or output. The benefits of implementing translingualism are linked to general language development, English development, content learning, and social development.

As a dynamic and scaffolding tool, translingualism provides the opportunity to learn and grow while enjoying the intellectual and emotional benefits that the linguistic resources available to everyone.

Emotional intelligence and English as a foreign language

When we talk about the teaching of English as a foreign language (ILE), the problem of the different levels of mastery of the language in the same class or group comes into play, on the one hand, and the adaptation of tasks, dynamics and projects to the diversity of the students, on the other hand. Inclusion is a fundamental aspect in the educational field, and in ILE it is no less so.

In this sense, the development of emotional intelligence and the teaching of ILE go hand in hand; However, the climate necessary for meaningful group interaction is not always instinctively produced, but must be fostered through trust-building techniques that create a positive classroom environment and foster cooperation.

In oral communication in English, affect helps the student speak and express their own experiences and feelings with confidence using relevant sentences and terms. Aspects such as greater exposure or the creation of immersion bubbles in the target language can be very successful approaches in certain contexts and educational stages.

However, the flexible, critical and creative use of what we call the mother tongue or other languages ​​within this unique repertoire in each subject also contributes to creating the motivation and tranquility necessary in the acquisition of English, since the students have more linguistic tools or resources for making connections between ideas, structures, expressions or certain concepts.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original.

Maite Amondarain Garrido does not receive a salary, nor does she carry out consulting work, nor does she own shares, nor does she receive financing from any company or organization that may benefit from this article, and she has declared that she lacks relevant links beyond the academic position cited.

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