Translanguaging for Equal Opportunities: Speaking Romani at School

In Hungary and in Slovakia, several hundreds of thousands of people consider themselves to be Roma. A significant part of this population uses language resources and practices linked to Romani. In both countries, Romani appears at schools merely as a school subject (Romani as a second language, home language, or foreign language) and even in this way it is seldom included in the curriculum at all.
Translanguaging (García 2009) is not only a notion of contemporary sociolinguistics which describes bi- and multilingual ways of speaking, but also a pedagogical approach. By offering a holistic approach to communication (Gorter-Cenoz 2017), translanguaging pedagogy emphasizes the development of the entire and unique linguistic repertoire instead of the development of competences in several languages or varieties.
Our project is to build on approaches laid down in translanguaging research in order to study Romani-speaking children’s linguistic practices in primary school settings and to introduce new pedagogical stance and principles in their education (cf. Wei 2014, 2017; García-Kleyn 2016, García et al 2017, García-Wei 2014, Paulsrud et al 2017, Heltai 2019). The project is carried out in cooperation with University College London, University of Jyväskylä as word-leading centres in translanguaging and research on multilingual education, with the Károli Gáspár University in Budapest, Hungary and the Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra, Slovakia as regional and local centres of research in the fields of translanguaging and issues of multilingual education, and from two elementary school institutions from highly disadvantaged schooling areas in Hungary and Slovakia. The aim of our project is to explore the possibilities of integrating the children’s Romani language resources in monolingual primary school settings and curricula. Our approach challenges the tradition which associates school with monolingual and standardized ways of speaking, which dominates discourses of education in Hungary and Slovakia to this day. Instead of developing Hungarian or Romani language skills, our approach supports social equality and competitiveness through the development of the whole repertoire.