Bi/multilingual literacies in literacy studies

Angel M.Y. Lin, David C.S. Li

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction As we embarked on writing on the topic of bilingual/multilingual literacies, we were initially stuck with the difficult question of how we could introduce a field of studies that seems to be undergoing rapid re-conceptualization and witnessing mounting tensions between not just old and new terms but also radically different ways of conceptualizing language and literacy practices. Traditional ways of thinking about literacies as manifested in the use of terms such as bilingual literacies, multilingual literacies or even plurilingual literacies have increasingly come under challenge by the rise of recent terms such as translanguaging (García 2009) and translingual practice (Canagarajah 2013a, 2013b). In what follows we shall first outline these new theoretical developments from early to recent work that has sought to break through the monolingual ideologies governing our understanding of literacy. Then we shall discuss how the recent reconceptualization of literacy practices stands to highlight the heteroglossic social relations embedded in literacy practices. We shall illustrate these new conceptualizations of translingual literacies with examples from the case of Hong Kong where Cantonese, English and Chinese literacies have been mixing and matching for over a century. In the concluding section, the theoretical and empirical challenges facing the field now are discussed and future directions for research are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Literacy Studies
EditorsJennifer Rowsell, Kate Pahl
Place of PublicationAbingdon, UK
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781317510611
ISBN (Print)9780415816243
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • bilingual/multilingual literacies
  • translingual practice
  • translanguaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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