National Writing Project

Expanding Students' Repertoires of Linguistic Practice and Cultivating Transcultural Dispositions

Date: November 2010

Summary: Taken from her keynote at the 2009 With Different Eyes conference, scholar Marjorie Faulstich Orellana explains the benefits of translation in the classroom and transcultural dispositions with student writing.


Transcultural Dispositions

At the UCLA Writing Project's conference "With Different Eyes 2009: What's Language Got to Do With It?", Marjorie Faulstich Orellana, UCLA professor in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, discussed how educators no longer understand childrens' linguistic potential as an empty vessel because the "toolbox model"—where there are varying tools available to address different problems—can depict children's complex linguistic abilities more accurately.

Orellana argued that students' transcultural dispositions are part of that toolbox and can be cultivated in the classroom.

She used examples from children and youth to show the benefits of language brokering and how it fosters transcultural dispositions. Orellana also explained applications to the school setting. For more, watch the video below.


Nuances of Written Translation

Present language acquisition models (such as BICS and CALP , formal and informal) do not accurately describe the nuances involved in written translation, according to Orellana. A more responsive model is the concept of transcultural dispositions.

In this portion of the keynote presentation, Orellana illustrates the model for elementary and middle school teachers and principals with two fifth grade examples of persuasive writing. In them, Spanish-speaking students take slightly different stances, tailoring their registers to two distinct audiences.

Orellana introduced multimodal communication and breadth and flexibility as new, updated goals in language instruction. For more, watch the video below.

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