Translanguaging in negotiation of meaning in OCF

Translanguaging in negotiation of meaning arose when the participants managed to figure out the exact linguistic form of English with the scaffold of Chinese when they were literally producing L2 writing.

  • Excerpt 1 (Clarifying the meaning at the word level)

  • T: “Sacrifice the quality in order to have less of an impact on their wallets”. Are you suggesting that they do something unethical?

  • S1: I mean 生活品质降低(reduce their quality of life).

  • T: Oh, 生活品质降低(reduce their quality of life), “the quality of” in this place, I didn’t know whether you are talking about his character or his quality of life. “The quality of” here is slightly ambiguous, isn’t it? When I was looking at this “quality”, I didn’t know you were talking about the quality of life, you could say “will reduce the quality of life”.

This transcript shows that when the student is trying to produce a word during writing, his or her mother language repertoire can support him or her in reaching the goal. The tutor used repetition by repeating “生活品质降低”, and she also used explicit correction by indicating incorrect use of words and providing the correct form to the student.

At first, S1 failed to figure out a more proper word to refer to the meaning of life quality. However, with her Chinese language repertoire, she realized that there is a Chinese synonym “生活品质”, and she soon associated the Chinese word with the spelling of its corresponding English word “quality”.

The need for beautifying compositions prompted translanguaging and motivated the student to reach her purpose efficiently. From this excerpt, we can see that the students use their first language to associate with the second language to figure out a target word and cope with difficulties in spelling with the help of her comprehension in the original Chinese word when the need for beautification is stimulated. Sometimes the lack of vocabulary or unfamiliarity with certain words will cause barriers in written production, which affects the fluency and accuracy of students’ writing, but students will turn to translanguaging, which enables them to make a bridge to target words with the aid of the Chinese language repertoire and finally increase the lexical variation or lexical complexity of their compositions.

This process is a close interaction between two languages aiming to construct meaning and understanding toward target languages. What actually exerts an important role in this process is the linguistic repertoire, which refers to translingual communication between languages. The student, on the basis of her understanding of one concept in Chinese, figured out and eventually deepened the understanding of the corresponding word in English.

The use of bilingual resources maximized her chances of communicating through her written texts. She chose from her linguistic repertoires to solve problems in constructing English and Chinese texts. This corroborates Hornberger’s (2005, p. 607) assertions that “bi/multilinguals’ learning is maximized when they are allowed and enabled to draw from across all their existing language skills rather than being constrained and inhibited from doing so by monolingual instructional assumptions and practices”. This choice of languages also indexes a disruption of language hierarchies and monolingual habitus ideologies in multilingual settings.

  • Draft & Revision 1

  • Draft: As a result, fans, especially young adolescents who are not financially independent, will sacrifice the quality in order to have less of an impact on their wallets in supporting their idols, or impolitely demand that their parents should buy the advertising products for them.

  • Revision: As a result, fans, especially young adolescents who are not financially independent, will sacrifice their quality of life to support their idols or impolitely demand that their parents buy the advertising products for them.

From the comparison of S1’s draft and revision, we can see that the translanguaging in tutor’s feedback has a positive effect on students’ argumentative writing. It helps S1 use Chinese to recall English words and improve their clarity in meaning-making.

  • Excerpt 2 (Clarifying the meaning at the sentence level)

  • T: And then, you see, “on the one hand…” and then “on the other hand…”. I think it refers to two aspects of the same problem, one saying the past and the other saying the present, it’s better not to use, it’s not two sides of the same coin, it’s the past and the present, so I think you need to change this conjunction.

  • S2: I don’t know, on the one hand, 就改成firstly……secondly……就可以吧(maybe we can change it to first… secondly… maybe it’s okay).

  • T: I don’t think you should use “Firstly”, “Secondly”, “Recently”, maybe you can use “In the past”, “Currently”, “Recently”.

  • S2: However, that’s the first point. In the first point, I mentioned some differences between the past and the present.

  • T: Well, I feel like you’re using first… secondly… it’s a matter of time, it’s not that kind of split-point thing, in fact, if you just divide it by time, I think it would be pretty clear.

  • S2: However, in terms of time, what about the third point?

  • T: Well, so you might have a problem with your previous classification, so these three points are not juxtaposed, past, present, is this the third point? What’s more…

  • S2: Yeah, 我当初想的分类不是按时间来分的, 我当时想的是, 第一个用它们的历史和现在的对比来定义它, 第二个说它的表现很差, 然后第三点说他们可能会给自身带来不便, 这三点(I did not want to categorize them chronologically, I wanted to define them in terms of their history versus present, the second said they performed poorly, and the third said they might be inconvenient for themselves, these three points).

  • T: 但是这三点其实是不并列的, 你有没有发现, 感觉不太好定义, 有一个同学的好像蛮清晰的, 他在开头和结尾都对这个进行了定义, 他给了两个定义happiness is our positive attitudes toward life, 然后这个又是happiness can be easily attained, 在不同人的眼里, 这个东西它意味着什么, 然后这样并列的话还是可以的(However, these three points are not truly sided by side, have you noticed, it is not easy to define, let me see, there was one other student, it seems to be quite clear, he defines it at the beginning and at the end, he gives two definitions of happiness, one is our positive attitudes toward life, and the other is happiness can be easily attained, in different people’s eyes, what this thing means, and then it can be parallel like this).

Textual cohesion refers to the linguistic features that relate sentences to one another. According to the data, participants have used translanguaging in OCF for improving textual cohesion, which was specifically displayed in the modifications of logical connectors.

Excerpt 2 suggests a mismatch between connective devices in Chinese and English and explains in part why Chinese students have challenges making connections between ideas. The tutor used explicit correction in this excerpt. Tutor and S2, by extracting language resources from linguistic repertoires, which refers here to the usage of logical connectors in the Chinese language, applied this kind of language sense to the OCF.

Expressions of logical connection are often not expressed in words but derived from contextual inferences. The finding above concurs with earlier findings in Uysal’s (2008) study that non-mother tongue students tend to create obscure, unclear sentence logic. In this circumstance, ways of meaning-making are language specific.

  • Draft & Revision 2

  • Draft: On the one hand, though fandom is crazy now, in the past, it is not… On the other hand, their daily actions are crazy.

  • Revision: First, although fandom is now crazy, in the past, it wasn’t… Second, what they usually do is crazy.

According to the excerpt and the draft & revision above, we can see that translanguaging in OCF gives assistance to group members’ logical expression, and the use of Chinese helps to move the discussion forward.

  • Excerpt 3 (Clarifying the meaning at the paragraph level)

  • S3: 因为我看我们书上写的definition范围就是, 定义它写的就是它的历史怎么样, 然后就写了它的行为, 然后作为参照我就这么写了(Because I saw in our book that the definition is, the definition is the history, and then I wrote the behavior, and then I wrote that as a reference).

  • T: 那你就可以说第一段是它的history, 你就不要说过去、现在这样子, 直接说是fandom的history, 然后第二部分就是说它的现象, 也就说这个fandom的phenomenon, 到底是什么样的现象, 你就按这样, 你就按历史、现象这样, 这样的话是可以定义的, 你就在topic sentence里边点明一下, 就说得更清楚一点, 我觉得还好一些(So you can say the first paragraph is its history, you shouldn’t say the past or the present, you can say it’s the history of fandom, and then the second part is its phenomenon, that is, the phenomenon of fandom, what kind of phenomenon it is, you just wrote this way, according to the history, the phenomenon like this, such words can be defined, just say more clearly, I feel it will be better).

  • S3: 但是我不是想围绕crazy来讲吗, 围绕crazy来讲的话, 我觉得第一个论点就没有围绕它了, 直接绕过它来讲, 我主要想表达的是根据以往来对比, 他现在非常的crazy这样(However, I want to talk about crazy, I don’t think the first argument is about crazy, I want to talk about the comparison between past and future).

  • T: 嗯, 其实你就可以把topic sentence改一下, 其他后面不用改就行了, 也就是说你第一段是要讲它的发展经历这样子, 然后你再说它的过去, 你就内容不变, 你就是改一个topic sentence, 然后让它去形成一种并列关系(Well, as a matter of fact, you can change the topic sentence, but you don’t have to change the rest of the sentence, that is, you should first tell us about its development, and then you can tell us about its past, and let it form a paratactic relationship).

Textual coherence refers to the relations of meaning between individual units of a text, which allows a text to be logical and semantically consistent. It arises from the relationship between the underlying ideas of a text, together with the logical organization and development of the text, and is achieved with adequate structuring and organization of the content. The students were inclined to improve their textual coherence in the post-writing process.

In Excerpt 3, the tutor used metalinguistic clues; without providing the correct form, the teacher provided comments and information related to the formation of the student’s writing. Excerpt 3 shows that translanguaging was also used in OCF to improve textual coherence. The improvement of textual coherence was based on the understanding of the whole text and on the sense of language. S3 chose to translate a sentence that might be problematic into Chinese to deepen the understanding of the sentences and to determine the problem. Apparently, the role of the mother tongue is irreplaceable because the sense of the mother tongue usually overwhelms the sense of the second language. In these cases, the students, through linguistic repertoire, further the understanding of the sentence and construct the whole meaning again.

According to the results, translanguaging in OCF plays a main role in improving the cohesion and coherence of L2 writing. To revise the essay, students tended to review their writing text utilizing Chinese, or more specifically, linguistic repertoires from the Chinese language. When they produced a sentence, they did not realize the problem. However, after a second reading and thinking about the improvement by using Chinese, they soon determined the problem and solved it. The results confirm the argument that both languages are used in a dynamic and functionally integrated manner to organize and mediate mental processes in understanding, speaking, literacy, and, not least, learning (Lewis et al., 2012).

  • Draft & Revision 3

  • Draft: Nowadays, a new type of organization——fandom, is gradually rising. So, here is a question. What is Fandom? Fandom is an organization made up of a group of people who share a common interest and the members of it called fangirls. They are willing to do anything they can do for their idols. Now, let’s see the development of fandom.

  • Revision: Currently, a new type of organization—fandom—is gradually becoming popular. Therefore, here is a question. What is Fandom? Fandom is an organization consisting of a group of people who share a common interest, and the members of it are called fangirls. They are willing to do anything they can do for their idols. Now, let us see the development of fandom. Sounds crazy? Yes, now they are crazy, what they usually do is crazy, and they are likely to be crazier people.

From graft & revision 3, it can be seen that translanguaging in OCF helps students clarify meta-linguistic discourse and clarify the point of discussion by using Chinese.

Translanguaging in negotiation of form in OCF

The student, by using his or her linguistic knowledge and language sensibility, makes a link between the original English grammatical form and Chinese grammar.

  • Excerpt 4 (Noticing the form about sentence structure)

  • S4: On top of that那一段给我的第二个批注, 然后 others in charge of making doujin work about their idols这句话前面, 我用了一个逗号, 因为我觉得后面这句话不能单独成段, 所以我就没有加一个are, 是不是我应该把逗号改成句号, 然后再单独另起一句(“On top of that”, the second comment, “and then in charge of others of making doujin work about their idols”, I used a comma before this sentence, because I didn’t think it could be a paragraph, so I didn’t add a “are”, should I change the comma to a full stop and start a separate sentence?)

  • T: No, the verb “are” cannot be omitted, you have no be verb here, right?

  • S4: However, if you use a comma, and there are no conjunctions here, 我觉得它是不能单独成句的, 所以做一个独立主格的样子(I don’t think it can be made into a sentence alone, so I make it stand alone).

  • T: Some are in charge of taking, revising and sending photos, Some, the others…

  • S4: 那我还是按照你这样, 就是单独成句, 然后加上be动词吗?(Therefore, I’m going to do what you did, which is make a separate sentence and add the be verb?)

  • T: 不是, 你就这样连, 这个地方也加一个are, 也就是some are in charge of taking……, 然后some are in charge of……, 你这个地方也要加be动词(No, you just add an “are”, “some are in charge of taking…”, then “some are in charge of…”, you add a be verb to this place).

The tutor first used explicit correction, and then she used recast. She pointed out the student’s writing was incorrect (i.e., “The verb “are” cannot be omitted…”). Then, the tutor implicitly reformulated the student’s error and provided the correction in the dialog later by adopting recast, without directly indicating that the student’s writing was incorrect. (i.e., “Some are in charge of taking, revising and sending photos, Some, the others…”).

The grammatical error was made because of a direct transfer from Chinese expression. Apparently, S4 used her knowledge from the linguistic repertoire to provide resources to be written in writing.

As her mother tongue, Chinese exerted significant influence during the process of her writing. The understanding of the Chinese expression of S4 affected her knowledge of the corresponding expression in English. However, she was unconscious of the error for not aware of the distinctions between the two languages. Indeed, a translingual process happened in her mind that S4 extracted resources from linguistic repertoire but only in Chinese repertoire, then according to her own understanding, finally constructed the sentence. However, most L2 writers perform mental translation when they write in a new language: they think in L1 and translate their thoughts into L2. It is easier to work on translation errors or revise a content-rich paper than to help someone believe. Translanguaging in OCF here can be beneficial to enhancing students’ understanding and learning of grammar, encouraging learner participation.

  • Excerpt 5 (Noticing the form about spelling and mechanics)

  • S4: Do I need to change the comma?

  • T: 你觉得我们在英语写作中会这样用吗?(Do you think we can use that in English writing?)

  • S4: 据我所知, 英语不是这样的(With all I know now, it doesn’t seem to work in English.) There can only be a main clause, a verb or something.

  • T: No, this is a coordinate sentence, not a clause, so you can’t leave out the be verb.

  • S4: Oh, so the comma can still be used?

  • T: Yes, you have to add the verb “be in charge…”, then your comma is the Chinese comma, and you have to use the English comma.

  • S4: Does it make a difference?

  • T: Of course,它是全角和半角的(it is full-angle and half-angle).

  • S4: Oh, yeah.

Excerpt 5 is also a conversation between the tutor and S4, and the tutor used the strategy of metalinguistic clues here by asking S4, “Do you think we can use that in English writing?”, which helped S4 develop her background knowledge in her academic learning. Translanguaging in OCF helps S4 know how to use the appropriate comma in English essay writing. Students first have to become familiar with academic writing styles in their first language: read and write enough to develop their academic writing ability, or it doubles cognitive demands when they have to learn to write in an unfamiliar writing style in a newly developing way language. They should become familiar with academic writing styles in their first language through reading and writing academic work in L1.

  • Draft & Revision 4

  • Draft: On top of that, fans support their idols in different ways. Some are in charge of taking, revising and sending photos, some in charge of controlling people’s comments on their idol, others in charge of making doujin work about their idols.

  • Revision: Second, fans support their idols in different ways. Some are in charge of taking, revising and sending photos, others are in charge of controlling people’s comments on their idols’ Weibo, and others are in charge of making derivative works about their idols.

The draft & revision above is S4’s writing before and after the OCF (Excerpts 4 and 5). It shows that translanguaging in OCF gives students better understanding of grammatical or syntactical rules and makes learners pay more attention to spelling and format in L2 writing.

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