Making music, making language

Minoritized bilingual children performing literacies


  • Ofelia Garcia City University of New York
  • Angélica Ortega City University of New York



Bilingualism, Latinx, literacy education, music education, translanguaging


This article reframes how the making of music by minoritized bilingual Latinx
children is interrelated to their languaging and their literacies’ performances.
Taking a translanguaging approach, musicking/languaging/performing literacies are described here as holistic critical meaning-making processes. Focusing on the process by which students make meaning of texts, and not simply on the output or product of such meaning-making, this article shows how a music education programme based on El Sistema and designed for social change transforms minoritized children’s critical sense of their positions and subjectivities as producers of language and literacies. Through music education, long considered only an enrichment activity from which language minoritized students are often excluded, bilingual Latinx children are able to crack open a vision for themselves and others as competent, dignified, and valid meaning-makers—as performers of complex acts of language and literacies.

Author Biographies

Ofelia Garcia, City University of New York

Ofelia García is Professor Emerita in the PhD programs in Urban Education and Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. García has published widely in the areas of bilingualism/multilingualism and bilingual education, language education, language policy, and sociology of language. The American Educational Research Association has awarded her three Lifetime Research Achievement Awards: Distinguished Contributions to Social Contexts in Education (2019), Bilingual Education (2017), and Second Language Acquisition Leadership through Research (2019). She is a member of the US National Academy of Education. For more, visit

Angélica Ortega, City University of New York

Angélica Ortega is an adjunct professor in the Bilingual Education Program at Hunter College, CUNY. She is also a music educator with the New York City Department of Education. Previously, she worked as an elementary school classroom teacher, where most of her students were bilingual and multilingual students. Angelica received her PhD in Urban Education from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and holds a Master in Literacy from Teachers College, Columbia University. Ortega’s work is grounded on centering the cultural and linguistic practices of bilingual and multilingual families, translanguaging pedagogy, and community advocacy.


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How to Cite

Garcia, O., & Ortega, A. (2020). Making music, making language: Minoritized bilingual children performing literacies. Journal of Multilingual Theories and Practices, 1(1), 44–65.