UV9920V2 – Researching Multilingualism and Multilingual Literacies in Education

Course content

Although multilingualism is a centuries-old phenomenon, the value of multilingualism and multilingual literacies in educational settings keeps attracting scholarly interest and engendering public debate. Research during the past decades has provided us with detailed accounts of the non-linear dimensions of the development of multilingual literacies, as well as the complex connections between transnational processes, social practices and the social identities of multilingual learners. At the same time, the field continues to struggle with the pedagogical challenges that arise when attempts are made to support and foster multilingualism in educational policies and classrooms.  

This course is to examine several theoretical and methodological approaches that are commonly used in this domain, and guide candidates in collaborative data analysis. The course will comprise lectures and collaborative data analysis sessions, the latter drawing on data provided by the facilitators and participating PhD candidates. Course credit will be granted on the basis of participation in lectures, group analysis sessions, and individual data presentations.

International expert

The international expert is Suresh Canagarajah, who is the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, Applied Linguistics, and Asian Studies, and Director of the Migration Studies Project at Pennsylvania State University. He teaches courses in World Englishes, Multilingual Writing, Language Socialization, Rhetoric/Composition, and Postcolonial Studies in the departments of English and Applied Linguistics. Suresh comes from the Tamil-speaking northern region of Sri Lanka. He taught earlier at the University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, and the City University of New York. He was formerly the editor of the TESOL Quarterly and President of the American Association of Applied Linguistics.

Suresh has adopted research approaches such as ethnography, discourse analysis, narrative study, and teacher research to study multilingualism in education. His early studies adopted critical ethnography to address the strategies of resistance and appropriation by Sri Lankan students and teachers in the face of western teaching materials and methods, and the global power of English. His book which brings together such studies, Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English Teaching (OUP, 1999) won the Mina Shaughnessy Award from the Modern Language Association of America (MLA), and was short listed by the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL).

Adopting autoethnographic methods, he later analyzed the challenges in academic writing for fellow Sri Lankan scholars and the resulting inequalities in academic publishing in his book Geopolitics of Academic Writing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002). He situates academic writing in the broader economic conditions, communicative traditions, and intellectual culture of local and international settings to develop a decolonial orientation to literacy and writing. This book won the Olson Award from the Teachers of Advanced Composition. The insights from this research orientation inform his book for teachers of writing titled Critical Academic Writing and Multilingual Students (University of Michigan Press, 2002). This book adopts a critical pedagogical orientation to the teaching of English writing for multilingual students, and has been widely used in classrooms.

Suresh later adopted the theoretical orientation of translingualism to study how communicative practices go beyond labelled and autonomous languages. This led to a series of classroom ethnographies and teacher research in the courses he taught in the United States for the teacher development of composition instructors.  This research led to analysing the ways writers bring together diverse semiotic resources in their writing, and pedagogies for making spaces for such creativity in classrooms. This research also led Suresh to argue that translingualism called for a more collaborative literacy where readers and writers constantly negotiated their reading/writing practices for the emergence of meanings. He labelled this negotiated literacy, countering the dominant paradigms of autonomous and social literacies. These studies are brought together in his publication Translingual Practice: Global Englishes and Cosmopolitan Relations (Routledge, 2013), which won best book awards from the professional organizations American Association of Applied Linguistics, British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL), and the Modern Language Association of America (MLA).

Presently, Suresh has expanded his notion of translingualism to accommodate diverse semiotic repertoires and ecological resources in literacy and communication, along a New Materialist theoretical orientation. He has adopted multi-sited ethnographies of international science scholars in the United States to analyse the ways they engage in rhizomatic meaning construction and distributed social practices. His 2018 publications in journals such as the Modern Language Journal and Applied Linguistics demonstrate how the orientation to text can be broadened to situate them in broader communicative ecologies to explain textual emergence. These perspectives influence his latest book Transnational Literacy Autobiographies as Translingual Writing (Routledge, 2020).

Learning outcome

On completion of the course, the PhD candidate shall have achieved the following learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and general competence)

  • Have knowledge about current theoretical and methodological approaches to research on multilingualism and multilingual literacies in education
  • Be able to evaluate and critically analyze theoretical concepts and methodologies employed in research on multilingualism and multilingual literacies in education 
  • Be able to engage in a variety of data analysis techniques 
  • Demonstrate mastery of data analysis techniques in relation to a sample of original data


PhD candidates affiliated with the Faculty of Educational Sciences will be given priority and are to register through Studentweb. Other students at UiO may also apply through Studentweb. All applicants at UiO e-mail the required abstract, data description and recommendation letter to Sandra R. Nielsen no later than February 1st, 2020.

Students from other institutions/countries may apply and upload required documents through the web form no later than February 1st, 2020.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

This course has been developed for PhD candidates affiliated with the Faculty of Educational Sciences (UV), but others may also apply. As a minimum requirement, all participants must hold at least a Master's degree and be enrolled in a PhD programme.



Date: 13.5, 2020

Place: Helga Engs hus (room to be announced) at Blindern, University of Oslo

Moderator: Associate professor Joke Dewilde (SISCO)

08.30 – 09.15    Coffee

09.15 – 09.30     Welcome, quick round of introductions (Joke Dewilde) 

09.30 – 11.00     New Definitions of Texts and Translingualism (Suresh Canagarajah)

11.15 – 12.00     Exploring meaning-making in the multilingual classroom (Line Møller Daugaard)

12.00 – 13.00     Lunch

13.00 – 14.45     Data workshops in small groups

15.00 – 16.00     Languages as sources of meaning - The analysis of translanguaging practices in a mathematics classroom by a combination of two methods (Åsa Wedin)

Date: 14.5, 2020

08.30 – 09.15     Coffee

09.15 – 12.00     Studying Academic Literacy as Assemblage (Suresh Canagarajah)

12.00 – 13.00     Lunch

13.00 – 14.45     Data workshops in small groups

15.00 – 16.00     Minoritised Languages, Writing Norms and Literacy Education (Haley De Korne)

Date: 15.5, 2020

08.30 – 09.15     Coffee

09.15 – 12.00     Studying Classroom Literacy as Negotiated (Suresh Canagarajah)

12.00 – 13.00     Lunch

13.00 – 13.45     Data workshops in small groups

14.00 – 14.45     Identity and Language Learning in the Literacy Classroom (Irmelin Kjelaas)

15.00 – 15.45     Translation as Translingual Writing Practice in English as an Additional Language (Ingrid Rodrick Beiler & Joke Dewilde)

15.45 – 16.00     Concluding discussion

Required literature

Beiler, I. R., & Dewilde, J. Translation as translingual writing practice in English as an additional language. (12 p.)

Canagarajah, S. (2019). Transnational literacy autobiographies as translingual writing. Oxon: Routledge. (Part 1, pp. 1–153; a selection of 70 p. from part 2)

De Korne, H. (2017). “That’s too much to learn”: Writing, longevity, and urgency in the Isthmus Zapotec speech community. In P. Lane, J. Costa, & H. De Korne (Eds.), Standardizing Minority Languages: Competing Ideologies of Authority and Authenticity in the Global Periphery (pp. 222–241). London, UK: Routledge. (19 p.)

Dewilde, J. (2017). Translation and translingual remixing: A young person developing as a writer. International Journal of Bilingualism. doi:10.1177/1367006917740975 (12 p.)

Hornberger, N. H. (1997). Literacy, language maintenance and linguistic human rights: Three telling cases. international Journal of the Sociology of Language, 127, 87–103. (16 p.)

Laursen, H. P., Daugaard, L. M., Ladegaard, U., Østergaard, W., Orluf, B., & Wulff, L. (2018). Metalanguaging matters: Multilingual children engaging with “the meta”. International Journal of Bias, Identity and Diversities in Education, 3(1), 22-39. doi:10.4018/IJBIDE.2018010103 (21 p.)

Laursen, H. P. (2013). Umbrellas and Angels Standing Straight - a Social Semiotic Perspective on Multilingual Children’s Literacy. Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 16(6), 690-706. (16 p.)

Norton, B. (2013). Identity and language learning: Extending the conversation. Bristol, England: Multilingual Matters. (chapter 1, 39 p.)

Schleppegrell, M. J. (2007). The linguistic challenges of mathematics teaching and learning: A research review. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 23, 139-159. doi:10.1080/10573560601158461 (20 p.)

Wedin, Å. (in process). Languages as sources of meaning in a multilingual mathematics classroom: Pedagogical translanguaging in upper secondary school in Sweden. In P. Juvonen & M. Källkvist (Eds.), Pedagogical Translanguaging: Teachers and Researchers Shaping Plurilingual Practices. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. (24 p.). 

Optional reading

Costa, J., De Korne, H., & Lane, P. (2017). Standardising Minority Languages: Reinventing Peripheral Languages in the 21st Century. In P. Lane, J. Costa, & H. De Korne (Eds.), Standardizing minority languages: Competing ideologies of authority and authenticity in the global periphery (pp. 1–23). London: Routledge. (23 p.)

Gal, S. (2017). Visions and revisions of minority languages: Standardization and its dilemmas. In P. Lane, J. Costa, & H. De Korne (Eds.), Standardizing minority languages: Competing ideologies of authority and authenticity in the global periphery (pp. 222–242). London: Routledge. (21 p.)

Laursen, H. P., & Mogensen, N. D. (2016). Timespacing competence: Multilingual children's linguistic worlds. Social Semiotics, 26(5), 563–581. doi:10.1080/10350330.2015.1137163

Warriner, D. (2012). Multilingual literacies. In M. Martin-Jones, A. Blackledge, & A. Creese (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of multilingualism (pp. 508-520). Oxon: Routledge. (12 p.)


Examination form/ Credits: PhD candidates are required to actively participate in data exercises facilitated by the course lecturers. In addition, the course plans to have 3 workshops in small groups where PhD candidates are required to present an issue they wish to discuss drawing on data from their projects. They must also prepare comments and participate actively when other candidates present from their projects. 80% attendance is required, and the course gives 4 credits with documentation.

Participation in the workshops: By February 1st, 2020, PhD candidates are required to upload 1) A specification of how their work relates to multilingualism and literacy (max. 300 words); 2) A description of the data they are planning to present during the workshop (max. 300 words). If they are in the first year of their PhD and have not collected data yet, they are to describe the issue they would like to discuss; 3) During the workshops, PhD candidates present data from their projects and comment on other PhD candidates’ data and projects. 4) Upload a letter of recommendation from your supervisor no later than February 1st, 2020.

Students at UiO register through Studentweb and e-mail the abstract, data description and recommendation letter to Sandra R. Nielsen no later than February 1st, 2020.

Students from other Norwegian institutions register and upload through the web form no later than February 1st, 2020.

Facts about this course






Spring 2020

Teaching language