Borderland Biliteracy Stance: How Translanguaging Shapes Understandings of Biliteracy

“Ve!” me gritó el viento;
Con las fuerzas de mil Abuelas,
I don’t know
If they meant “ve”-go Or
I intend to do both
By Guadalupe Mercedes Muñoz Moroyoqui

The past five years I have been studying with pre/in-service teacher how translanguaging shapes understandings of biliteracy, and describing the activities done with teachers. In this work, I co-design with teachers and ask them to “vejuntos go and see how they shape their understandings of biliteracy instructional practices from a flexible biliteracy model (García, 2009). Through this lens, teachers transform their concept of biliteracy and design their biliteracy instruction as a site for resistance and transformation of bilingual marginalized students. I will share what Borderland Biliteracy (Johnson & García, 2022; Johnson et al., 2023) stance means to one teacher, Suzette, as she explored and implemented an instructional design impacting her students’ biliterate learning 


Suzette is a transladora which means to negociar these artificial linguistic borderlands and move from separation biliteracy models into Borderland Biliteracy approaches. To foster and support a Borderland Biliteracy stance, a flexible biliteracy approach where two named languages are used to interact with grade-level complex modalities where translanguaging is the norm to assess in a translingual mode and activate a critical multilingual awareness to support emergent bilingual students. To see through Suzette’s transladora lens, I utilized testimonios as a pedagogical tool which lends itself to a form of teaching and learning that brings the mind, body, and political tension to the forefront of their linguistic identity. Suzette was instructed to thoughtfully and creatively describe on her histories and experiences associated with her translanguaging journey. 


Suzette’s testimonio: Open la compuerta de la Acequia Madre 

My translanguaging stance springs from a current that flows in my veins. I compartmentalized my bilingualism as it played out in various contexts: Spanish to pray and speak with my grandparents; formal Spanish and English at school and Spanglish at home. I realize now that my bilingualism is a linguistic movement within that guide my actions, emotions, and responses. This experience allowed me to embrace the Translanguaging Stance with an open heart to see students’ language and culture holistically. Students shouldn’t view their language as belonging to a certain context or relationship but rather a unifying piece of their identity. 


To do Borderland Biliteracy work, Suzette understood that the language separation mode in her dual-language bilingual education classroom needed to change from a compartmentalized bilingualism to a more unifying instruction. She did this by seeing and bringing her students’ language, culture, and community practices holistically to see her students biliteracy in action. Suzette’s emerging transformative stance toward biliteracy where she co-designs a borderland biliteracy unit within her Spanish Language Arts curriculum. (For more on Suzette’s Borderland Biliteracy in action see A Chicana Borderlander Maestra Teaching without Fronteras) 


Ve!” me gritó el viento 

Write a Linguistic Identity Testimoniove “go” and “see” what your translanguaging stance is toward your biliteracy instructional practices by sharing your testimonio.  

  1. What are your language practices?  
  2. Express your linguistic identity testimonio by describing how you and your students use language for biliteracy, language development, or the role of translanguaging for reading comprehension in your classroom. 
  3. Share your linguistic identity testimonio and share with us here. 



García, O. (2009).Bilingual education in the 21st century: A global perspective. John Wiley & Sons. 


Johnson, S.I, & García, O. (2022). Siting biliteracy in New Mexican borderlands.Journal of Latinos and Education, 1-16. 


Johnson, S.I., Jurado, M., Orozco, M., & Trujillo, M. (2023). Transladoras sin fronteras: Merging linguistic borderlands to take up students’ translanguaging corrientes. In Z. Tian & L. Shepard0Carey (Eds), (Re)imagining the future of translanguaging pedagogies in classrooms through researcher-practitioner collaboration. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.  

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