Translanguaging pedagogies have been documented to support language minoritized students in various ways, such as supporting their academic learning, affirming their bi-/multilingual and cultural identities, and disrupting the colonial and monolingual ideologies dominating school curricula. Yet, very few scholars have pointed to the existing barriers in schools and societies hindering educators from fully achieving the transformative potential of translanguaging pedagogy. In this collaborative inquiry, we contribute to this limited scholarship by exploring the potential and challenges of implementing a translanguaging pedagogy in an ethno-linguistically diverse yet monolingual Turkish elementary school “hosting” Syrian refugees in a post-coup Turkey during a state of emergency. Drawing on a series of individual and joint interviews with two bilingual teachers and co-created lesson plans over a semester, we demonstrate how teachers used translanguaging to raise metalinguistic awareness, support academic learning, build rapport, and promote empathy among local and refugee students in their classrooms. We also discuss ecological constraints on a sustainable translanguaging pedagogy, including refugee students’ negative reactions to Arabic at school, impediments to parental involvement, the stigma around Kurdish, and the political climate in Turkey after the 2016 coup attempt.

DOI: 10.1080/19313152.2021.2004768
ISSN: 1931-3152