The Enactment of Translingual Negotiation Strategiest Deployed During an Intensive English Course in Gorontalo, Indonesia

In challenging what he calls as ‘monolingual approach’ (Jenkins, 2006) that gives privilege to native speakers and labels non-native speakers as deficient users, Canagarajah (2013) proposes Translingual Practice (TP) that serves as an umbrella term for his theory. Furthermore, Canagarajah (2013) coins the notion of ‘performative competence’, which he claims to be “similar to strategic competence” (p. 174) as the key of communication success. Studies of communication strategies have strengthen the significant role of communicative strategies for communication success and language learning which mainly focus on the enrichment of Oral Communication Strategy Inventory (Nakatani, 2006). In the context of South East Asian countries, including Indonesia, Kirkpatrick (2007) has identified the product of communication strategies among the speakers in this region in light of English as Lingua Franca (ELF) paradigm. The present study has been constructed: to fill the research gap in communication strategies that lack process-oriented research. This study follows the framework proposed by Canagarajah (2013) in which negotiation strategies occur in four areas (personal, social, textual and contextual). In each area, translinguals deploy different macro strategies: envoicing strategies for the personal domain, interactional strategies for the social domain, recontextualization strategies for the contextual domain and entextualization for the textual domain

In order to meet the purposes of the research which focus on translingual negotiation strategies and translingual identities, I employed qualitative methodology with multiple data collection methods to maintain the quality of the result. A qualitative methodology intends to inquire “(1) how people interpret their experiences, (2) how they construct their world and (3) what meaning they attribute to their experiences” (Merriam, 2002, p.38).Qualitative research has an important feature of focusing on meaning in which research subjects try to construct their world and experiences or in other words, it emphasize the emic perspective of the research subjects, rather than the ethic perspective of the researchers.
The main setting was an intensive English program taught by two American volunteer teachers conducted by a public university in Gorontalo, Indonesia. As a new province, Gorontalo is relatively still under developed compared to major metropolitan areas in Indonesia where English native speakers are much more present in professional as well as educational settings. This study was conducted with multiple data collection method: demographic information form, class observation, stimulated recall sessions,interviewing participants and journal writing.
In the data analysis, we explored from global perspective how the participants and the native speaker trainers deployed their translingual negotiation strategies in order to meet the communication success. Regarding the micro-strategies, we grouped the speech acts that contained the deployment of the each microstrategy under the four categories that Canagarajah (2013)develops. In each speech act, we illustrated the context of the interaction and interpreted the speech act based on the micro-strategies congruent. We included the data from stimulated recall protocol to make sure that our interpretation also sounded the participants perspective on the speech act.

Kirkpatrick (2007) argues that there are three aspects of language: communication (language as a means to communicate to one another), identity (language as a means of identification) and culture (language as a means to share cultural values). Employing envoicing strategies is a way of exposing the aspect of identity. The structuralist approach was keen in finding the mistakes that learners make and attempted to show that the mistakes would lead to misunderstanding among the interlocutors. Post struturalist approaches such as Translingual Practice has completely different perspective on the “mistakes”. Moreover, TP sees the ‘mistakes’ as a symptom of development that does not necessarily lead to ‘fossilization’, a mistake that cannot be eradicated as it becomes a systemic pattern. This idea of ‘fossilization’ has been influenced by monolingual paradigm that argues that language norms are fixed so that learners have to accept the norms as they are. Any violations of the norms are regarded as unacceptable.

The research found out that the translingual speakers deployed their envoicing strategies to show their language, social and personal identities. The multilingual speakers did not feel discouraged to use their idiosyncrasies in grammar and diction while still wanting to improve their English through using it. They also used code mixing, code switching and even code messing as a way to express their voice despite their limited access to resources in the target language. In term of social identity, both the native speaker teacher and multilingual learners share their opinions based on their national, ethnic, gender and religious affiliations to voice their interests of the intriguing issues of classroom discussion. In term of personal identity, the participants deploy pragmatic strategies to show their personality traits whether they are more introvert or extrovert during meaning negotiations.
Some micro strategies are very important in this interaction. The first micro strategy that they used was codeswitching. Codeswitching is basically an interlocutor’s effort to use two codes, in this case: two languages, English and Indonesian, in a complete thought to maintain the flow of the communication. A structuralist approach rejects this strategy by applying “English only” approach in classroom interaction. Furthermore, some teachers become very extreme by punishing students who use other code, that is other language, by arguing that the strategy would only make students lax and do not make any progress in using the target language. Besides, learners’ first language was regarded as intrusion to the learners’ thinking. The norms of the first language that is still used would only give negative effect to the learners’ formation of the target language’s grammar. TP, on the other hand, accepts the codeswitching strategy deployed as natural and even positive for learners’ development. By employing codeswitching, learners can express their thought without any hesitation that they have made any mistakes so that it would increase their self-confidence in using both codes. In the context of the classroom interactions in the study, it is true that Mary could not speak Indonesian at all so that a student who expressed his or her ideas in Indonesian would not be understood by the teacher. However, in that specific context, there were also other students who were engaged in the interaction and some of them had relatively fluent English. Realizing this situation, Fitri had encouraged herself that using Indonesian sentences, even in a complete utterance, was completely OK. She knew that her friends would help him by providing English words or even complete expression in English that he could imitate. By having the models from his friends, she has made abruptly two goals to meet. First, she could involve in the conversation so that she could voice her ideas. Secondly, she could get the English expression that she wanted to say as a model that ahe could use that in the future.The second microstrategy is codemixing. This strategy is similar to the first strategy of codeswitching unless it does not include the whole utterance, but only a part of it. When a learner wants to express an idea, it happens that he or she is stuck because of not knowing one or more than one word. The situation becomes worse when the word(s) are the main idea of the utterances that he or she wants to say. Again, the structuralist approach who applies ‘English only’ principle would only discourage the learners from voicing his/her ideas during classroom interaction. TP, on the other hand, encourages this strategy to be deployed. Andy who has better competence than Fitri, often used this micro strategy, in expressing her ideas. While his sentence was not perfect, she dared to express it to the class assuming that her friends would help him by providing the word(s) that she did not know. His strategy turned out to be successful as his friends were willing to provide the words that he could use them also for future interaction. On the hand, by employing the strategy he did not feel neglected in the conversation but engaged fully as a part of the discourse community. The third micro strategy is codemeshing. Different from the first two strategies in which the interlocutors use code from other language, this strategy enables the interlocutors to make an ‘experiment’ of making expressions in the target language without being discouraged from making mistakes or violating norms. The post-structuralists argue that the deployment of the strategy has increased the confidence of the learners as they are engaged in meaning making by constructing a code despite their awareness that the expression do not always comply with the norms of the standard language. By encouraging the messed code, TP has given the opportunity for any learners that they are not only consumers of the norms but also active participants of the shaping and reshaping of the language. Ali who had relatively better competence and higher confidence than Fitri and Andy was quite often bold in using this strategy to express his ideas. While maintaining his commitment to using English all the time, he was not embarrassed that many of his expressions did not comply with the standards of English grammar.

While supporters of monolingual paradigm is worried that the strategy would also lead to the destruction of the language, TP does not see that it is a destruction but reconstruction. TP shows the fact that what is called as standard do not exist without any reconstruction. When we look at what so called as standard Modern English, for example, it has many substantial differences with Middle English, not to mention Old English, not only in vocabularies but also grammar. While we see that English itself is under reconstruction along its history, there is no point to say that the development has stopped. As the speakers of English from people who are traditionally not native speakers, are tripled than the native speakers, the language itself has adopted millions of new words from her contact with other cultures. Some Indonesian words such as amok or sarong are now parts of the ‘standard English’. Those words are not regarded as a means of destructing the language but enriching the language with particular nuances of expression.

In contact zone such as the class of NNES students taught by NES teacher, the opportunities of misunderstanding among them can be greater, not only because of different knowledge background but also the lack of opportunity for meaning negotiation. In order to cope with the later problem, the research participants deployed interactional strategies where they used reciprocal and collaborative strategies to understand each other. Some important strategies that the teacher and students used are clarification /confirmation check, persuasive strategies (rhetorical questions, info seeking questions and recast) and “let-it-pass” principle. Deploying pragmatic strategies such as confirmation check to allow meaning negotiation among them. Mary would quite often say “do you know what I mean?” or “do you get it?” to make sure that her students understand her explanation. Marry also often rhetorically repeats the main word that her students say, to make sure that she got the main point that her students wanted to say. On the other hand, the students also made pauses in between their statement to make sure that their teacher and friends knew what they said.

In this contact zone where the students become majority, it happened also that students did not realize that their contextualized words would be understood easily by other NNES students but not the teacher who comes from completely different background. Quite often the students use certain acronyms, names of buildings, or names of street in their language that make other students understand easily but not the teacher. However, rather than confronting these detailed information, the teacher used the ‘pass-it-on’ principle. Only when the information is very important so that she did not get it, she asked for clarification by mentioning the main words of the utterances that the students made.

In this contact zone where the students became the majority, students did not realize that their contextualized words would be understood easily by other NNES students but not the teacher who comes from completely different background. Quite often the students use certain acronyms, names of buildings, or names of street in their language that other students understood easily but not the teacher. In order to cope with this problem, research participants used their recontextualization strategies to understand each other. This macrostrategy used Goffman’s (1981) construct “framing” and “footing” in which there are always spaces of meaning negotiation among interlocutors. Rather than a single authoritative voice that tells everything to the audience such as in a political speech, conversation always requires interlocutors to align in a dialogue until the uptake can been received. .

Some important micro strategies of recontextualization that the translinguals deployed during their class interaction are: creating a third space and using “safe talk”. The first strategy of creating a third space happened because of the interaction between NNS and NNES. The NNES students were aware that their teacher is not a local person who really knows the common knowledge about their lives. On the other hand, the teacher was also aware that the textbook contains so much information from the US that her students might not know but might really need to know. In order to create conducive atmosphere so that they knew each other very well, both parties made themselves to be in the third space where their space as an American and an Indonesians blend together where they tried to find common values that both cultures share. However, rather than accepting the common values are the same, both parties sometimes come to agree to disagree. The second strategy of safe talk was also very important in building good rapport between the teachers and their students. By using some time to talk out of the main theme of that day, both teachers create solidarity among them. The safe talk made the students have an environment conducive to learning which is the part of preparing footing for the uptake.
During the English program, some Indonesian students were aware that they had less semiotic resources to construct meaningful sentences. In such a situation, they deployed their entextualization strategies to make their utterances meaningful for other interlocutors. Some important strategies that the teacher and students deployed during classroom interaction are segmentation and regularization. The first strategy of segmentation reflects the strategies of multilingual learners to simplify their utterances by shortening their utterances into phrases rather than sentences. When an interlocutors do not have sufficient semiotic resources to express their meaning, they can do it by simplifying their sentences in the form of words and even in real life, interlocutors may only use suprasegmental units such as gestures or mimic. When you are in alien country and do not know any local languages, you can express your message of “being hungry and I want to eat” by simply touching your tummy and move your hand back and forth to your mouth. The more advance one is saying one main word such as “hungry” and “eat”. While your utterance is not a complete sentence, other interlocutors can understand you and the uptake is gained. Ahmad, for example, used this strategy when he tried to explain his professional history. He used the word “xerox” which is only a brand of copying machines to represent his whole professional career in the stationary business that he was involved in before starting career in education.
The second strategy can be seen by foregrounding information such as putting the main word into the front of the utterances so that other interlocutors can anticipate the detailed information. By instinct, people perceive that the most important information is placed in the beginning so that they will pay attention more intensely to the first sentence or even to the first word. In written form, this strategy is very simple because good writers usually put the main idea in the beginning of a paragraph. In spoken form, this strategy is more subtle. However, when an interlocutors have difficulty in expressing the whole idea, he/she would simply use this strategy to give more accent to his/her whole presentation. Ida used this strategy to explain her major in fisheries. Despite her broken English, Mary could get her specially among other participants, who are mostly from the English department, because of Ida’s strategy of regularizing her presentation by putting more information at the front.

Translingual practice is still a new paradigm so that it still lacks of research under this paradigm. This research is a way of showing these potentials together with other researches (Jain, 2014; Lamsal, 2014). Different from previous research under this paradigm, thisresearch can enrich the literature as it discusses all aspects of translingualnegoatiation strategies. Both American teachers and Indonesian students who participated in the intensive language program deployed their translingual negotiation strategies to reach the uptake. These strategies are actually innate in learners’ repertoire, especially those who are raised in multicultural and multilingual country like Indonesia. This research yieldeda more complete taxonomy of translingual negotiation strategies. Combining from the literature of communicative strategies, negotiation of meaning and pragmatics, this research can identify the microstrategies of those macrostrategies. The taxonomy would make researchers and practitioners follow the theory and replicate the research in different contexts (country, level of education, settings e.g. formal and informal).The class interaction also shows that learning a second or foreign language is a not only a matter of learning other culture, in this case the American culture. It can be the other way around, in which local cultures and languages are promoted through English. This principle can have a great implication when teachers and policy makers are aware that they can promote their own tradition, ways of life, values or even trivial things such as food or costumes. By so doing, English learners in the Outer Circe will “fight back” and challenge the domination of Western/American culture. Rather than being the object of dissemination values from outside, they could also offer their own values. This can even be applied to grammatical or rhetorical norms.

We thank the two American volunteer teachers and all the students of the intensive language program who participated in this study.

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Yohanes Nugroho Widiyanto has got his PhD in Foreign, Second and Multilingual Language Education from The Ohio State University. He is a fulltime lecturer of Widya Mandala Surabaya, Catholic University
Farid Muhamad graduated from masters program in American Studies of Gajah Mada University. He is a fulltime lecturer of State University of Gorontalo