Translanguaging in online language teaching

A case study of a multilingual English language teacher in New Zealand


  • Apsara Wimalasiri Victoria University of Wellington
  • Corinne A Seals Victoria University of Wellington



translanguaging, critical language scholarship, English language teaching and learning, online teaching and learning, Covid-19


The Covid-19 pandemic has restricted social interactions to online spaces, shifting usual face-to-face classrooms to online platforms. This article investigates how teachers and adult learners in an English as an additional language classroom experience these changes, solve problems that arise and negotiate their teaching and learning methods in an online space. Specifically, we focus on a case involving a teacher practising in an online Zoom English language classroom during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown in Aotearoa New Zealand. The data for this article come from a semi-structured narrative interview, four hours of online classroom observations and a stimulated recall session. Data analysis was conducted using the Interactional Sociolinguistics approach to discourse analysis. Findings from this study show how the teacher shifted to an online space, overcoming initial struggles and negotiating her teaching methodologies, including making use of new technological advancements of the online platforms she used. Additionally, the data highlight the teacher’s efforts to maintain pedagogical translanguaging in her online classes as an effective language teaching strategy. However, there are also restrictions in her awareness of benefits of using spontaneous translanguaging in the language classroom, highlighting that her choices do not always align with translanguaging as a form of social justice.

Author Biographies

Apsara Wimalasiri, Victoria University of Wellington

Apsara Wimalasiri is a PhD candidate in the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. She also holds a BA (UOC, Sri Lanka), MA in TESL (OUSL) and MA in Applied Linguistics (by thesis) from VUW. Her research interests include TESOL, multilingualism and translanguaging, teacher identities, learner identities and heritage language teaching and learning.

Corinne A Seals, Victoria University of Wellington

Corinne A. Seals is a Pūkenga Matua (Senior Lecturer) of Applied Linguistics at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. She is also the Pouakorangi (Director) of the Wellington Translanguaging Project and its resource branch Translanguaging Aotearoa, which she established in 2017, and is currently supported by a Marsden Fund Research Grant. Some of her recent (co)publications include Linguistic landscapes beyond the language classroom (Bloomsbury), ‘Translanguaging in conjunction with language revitalisation’ (System, 2020), Choosing a mother tongue: The politics of language and identity in Ukraine (Multilingual Matters), Embracing multilingualism across educational contexts (VU Press) and Heritage language policies around the world (Routledge).


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How to Cite

Wimalasiri, A., & Seals, C. A. (2022). Translanguaging in online language teaching: A case study of a multilingual English language teacher in New Zealand. Journal of Multilingual Theories and Practices, 3(1), 127–145.