Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Applied Linguistics Review

Editor-in-Chief: Wei, Li

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 1.098
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.871

See all formats and pricing
More options …

Translanguaging instead of standardisation: Writing Romani at school

János Imre Heltai
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Hungarian Linguistics, Institute of Hungarian Linguistic, Literary and Cultural Studies, Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church of Hungary, Institute of Hungarian Linguistic, Literary and Cultural Studies, Budapest, Hungary
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2019-01-23 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2018-0087


In most public education in the western world the existence of a standardized language variety is still regarded as a precondition of teaching writing. This stance generates a problem in situations where no standardized variety matches the children’s home language practices and no traditions of an extended and standardised literacy exist. Roma students in Hungary have to acquire writing skills in the majority language (Hungarian), since the teaching of writing cannot rely on a standardized Romani language. In this way, school writing activities seem unrelated to the local discoursal practices of their own community. This puts Romani-speaking children at a disadvantage in learning to write, and reduces their chances of academic success. This paper reports on an ongoing project in Tiszavasvári, Hungary, designed to offer an alternative to approaches that wish to eliminate the disadvantages of Roma students by creating a standardized language. It explores the possibility of applying a translanguaging approach to the teaching of writing, arguing that if teachers allow students to draw on their local Romani-bounded non-standardised language practices, including the grassroots literacy activities occurring in the community, their general writing skills can be improved. For this to happen, teachers must be trained in translanguaging pedagogy, so that they can transcend the boundaries staked out by monolingual ideologies. The hitherto prevailing view that posits an indissoluble connection between standard, school and writing should be set aside. It should also be realized that general linguistic competences can, and should, be separated from language-specific competences. A key endeavour of the Tiszavasvári project has been to convert teachers to the translanguaging stance, and some promising signs can be reported. The introduction of local translanguaging practices into the teaching of writing fostered new learning practices among the students and began to change the pedagogical stance of teachers participating in the project.

Keywords: Translanguaging; writing skills; Romani


  • Abercrombie, Amelia. 2018. Language purism and social hierarchies: Making a Romani standard in Prizren. Language in Society 47. 741–761.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Agha, Asif. 2007. The object called language and the subject of linguistics. Journal of English Linguistics 35. 217–235.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Baker, Colin. 2001. Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism, 3rd edn. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar

  • Baloghné Birgán, Anita. 2017. DIFER Alapkészségek Vizsgálata. [DIFER Examination of basic skills]. Manuscript. Tiszavasvári: Magiszter Elementary School.Google Scholar

  • Baran, Dominika. 2017. Language in immigrant America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Blommaert, Jan. 2008. Grassroots literacy: Writing, identity and voice in Central Africa. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Blommaert, Jan & Ben Rampton. 2011. Language and superdiversity. In Jan Blommaert, Ben Rampton & Massimiliano Spotti (eds.). Diversities 13(2). 1–22.Google Scholar

  • Brubaker, Rogers. 2002. Ethnicity without groups. European Journal of Sociology 43. 163–189.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Busch, Brigitta. 2012. Romani zwischen Stigmatisierung und Anerkennung: Eine transnationale Sprache im Korsett nationalstaatlicher Bildungssysteme. In Peter Cichon & Konrad Ehlich (eds.), Eine Welt? Sprachen, Schule und Politik in Europa und anderen Kontinenten, 71–92. Wien: Praesens.Google Scholar

  • Choli Daróczi, József & Levente Feyér. 1988. Zhanes romanes? [Do you speak Romani?]. Budapest: Magyarországi Cigányok Kulturális Szövetsége.Google Scholar

  • Creese, Angela & Adrian Blackledge. 2010. Translanguaging in the bilingual classroom: A pedagogy for learning and teaching? The Modern Language Journal 94. 103–115.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • García, Ofelia. 2009. Education, multilingualism and translanguaging in the 21. century. In Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Robert Phillipson, Ajit K. Mohanty & Minati Panda (eds.), Social justice through multilingual education, 140–158. Cromwell: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar

  • García, Ofelia. 2014. Countering the dual: transglossia, dynamic bilingualism and translanguaging in education. In Rani Rubdy & Lubna Alsagoff (eds.), The global-local interface, language choice and hybridity, 100–118. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar

  • García, Ofelia, Susana Ibarra Johnson & Kate Seltzer. 2017. The translanguaging classroom. Leveraging students bilingualism for learning. Philadelphia: Caslon.Google Scholar

  • García, Ofelia & Tatyana Kleyn. 2016. Translanguaging with multilingual students: Learning from classroom moments. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • García, Ofelia & Camila Leiva. 2014. Theorizing and enacting translanguaging for social justice. In Adrian Blackledge & Angela Creese (eds.), Heteroglossia as practice and pedagogy, 199–216. Dortrecht: Springer.Google Scholar

  • García, Ofelia & Wei Li. 2014. Translanguaging: Language, bilingualism and education. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar

  • Gorter, Durk & Jasone Cenoz. 2016. Language education policy and multilingual assessment. Language and Education 31. 231–248.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Hamman, Laura. 2017. Translanguaging and positioning in two-way dual language classrooms: A case for criticality. Language and Education 32. 21–42.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Heltai, János Imre 2016. Az egységes nyelvi repertoár pedagógiája [Pedagogy of the unitary language repertoire]. Magyar Nyelvőr 140(4). 407–427.Google Scholar

  • Heltai, János Imre 2017. Transzlingváló kiskáté pedagógusoknak. [Translanguaging chatecism for teachers]. Manuscript. Available in Hungarian on the website: http://translangedu.hu/forrasok-2/dokumentumok-tanaroktol-tanaroknak/

  • Jaffe, Alexandra & Shana Walton. 2000. The voices people read: Orthography and the representation of non-standard speech. Journal of Sociolinguistics 4. 561–587.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Jørgensen, J. Normann. 2008. Polylingual languaging around and among children and adolescents. International Journal of Multilingualism 5(3). 161–176.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Lakatos, Szilvia. 2010. A romani nyelv helyzete a magyarországi oktatási rendszerben [The situation of the Romani language in the Hungarian educational system]. In Anna Mária Papp (ed.), Kevésbé használt nyelvek a Visegrádi Négyek Országaiban [The situation of the lesser used languages in the Visegrád four countries], 56–70. Budapest: Országos Idegennyelvű Könyvtár.Google Scholar

  • Leggio, Daniele Victor. 2015. Radio Romani Mahala. Romani identities and languages in a virtual space. In Alfredo Alietti, Martin Olivera & Veronica Riniolo (eds.), Virtual citizenship? Roma communities, inclusion policies, participation and ICT tools, 97–114. Milano: McGraw-Hill Education.Google Scholar

  • Leggio, Daniele Victor & Yaron Matras. 2017. Orthography development on the Internet: Romani on YouTube. In Mari C. Jones & Damien Mooney (eds.), Creating orthographies for endangered languages, 254–275. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Li, Wei. 2011. Moment analysis and translanguaging space: Discoursive construction of identities by multilingual Chinese youth in Britain. Journal of Pragmatics 43(5). 1222–1235.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Li, Wei. 2018. Translanguaging as a practical theory of language. Applied Linguistics 39. 9–30.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Marcus, George. 1995. Ethnography in/of the world system: The emergence of multi-sited ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology 24. 95–117.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Matras, Yaron. 1999. Writing Romani: The pragmatics of codification in a stateless language. Applied Linguistics 20. 481–502.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Matras, Yaron. 2005. The future of Romani: Toward a policy of linguistic pluralism. Roma Rights Quarterly 1. 31–44.Google Scholar

  • Matras, Yaron. 2015. Transnational policy and ‘authenticity’ discourses on Romani language and identity. Language in Society 44. 295–316.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Paulescu, Eraldo et al. 2000. A cultural effect on brain function. Nature Neuroscience 3. 91–96.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Paulsrud, BethAnne, Jenny Rosén, Boglárka Straszer & Asa Wedin (eds.). 2017. New perspectives on translanguaging and education. Bilingual education and bilingualism 108. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar

  • Poza, Luis. 2017. Translanguaging: definitions, implications, and further neeeds in burgeoning inquiry. Berkeley Review of Education 6(2). 101–128.Google Scholar

  • Réger, Zita. 1995. The language of Gypsies in Hungary: An overview of research. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 111. 77–91.Google Scholar

  • Rostás-Farkas, György & Ervin. Karsai. 1991. Cigány–Magyar, magyar–Cigány szótár. [Romani-Hungarian, Hungarian-Romani Vocabulary]. Budapest: Kossuth.Google Scholar

  • Sefotho, Malephole Philomena & Leketi Makalela. 2017. Translanguaging and orthographic harmonisation: A cross-lingual reading literacy in a Johannesburg school. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 35(1). 41–51.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Wee, Lionel. 2016. Are there zombies in language policy? Theoretical interventions and the continued vitality of (apparently) defunct concepts. In Nikolas Coupland (ed.), Sociolinguistics. Theoretical Debates, 331–348. Cambridge –New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Williams, Cen. 1994. Arfarniad o Ddulliau Dysgu ac Addysgu yng Nghyd-destun Addysg Uwchradd Ddwyieithog [An evaluation of teaching and learning methods in the context of bilingual secondary education]. Unpublished doctoral thesis. Bangor: University of Wales.Google Scholar


About the article

Published Online: 2019-01-23

Citation Information: Applied Linguistics Review, ISSN (Online) 1868-6311, ISSN (Print) 1868-6303, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2018-0087.

Export Citation

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in