Vasiliki Lismani

Using translanguaging to activate schemata in EFL reading classes

Background knowledge is essential in reading comprehension although not often adequately developed. The purpose of this talk is to discuss how translanguaging can be employed as an approach conducive to text understanding allowing L2 students to cognitively scaffold their learning and employ their L1 linguistic as well as cultural and social repertoire in order to inform their L2 reading process.


For years, students' L1 have been exiled from EFL classes and their use has been a highly debatable issue. It is also true that EFL teachers have shown over-reliance on decoding, vocabulary and grammatical structures turning a blind eye to the fact that reading emerges as a sociocognitive process which should be equally examined in relation to individuals’ cultural background, attitudes and values.

The aim of this talk is to present the importance of background content knowledge in every reading lesson and investigate the potentials of using students’ L1 to support this activation. To this end, first, it is attempted to discuss the influence of schema theory in the learning process in order to serve as a solid ground of evidence of the importance of content schemata activation in reading classes. Additionally, examining translanguaging it will be attempted to critically evaluate its efficacy in EFL teaching and learning and particularly investigate its potentials to foster EFL students’ content schemata as an integral part of every reading lesson. Practices proposed from existing research on translanguaging will be discussed in terms of the opportunities offered for the L2 learners to develop as emergent bilinguals making the most of their linguistic background (L1) in order to facilitate the acquisition of the new language (L2) mostly focusing on learners’ communicative competencies rather than the development separate language skills. Finally, the implementation of translanguaging in reading classes will be discussed under the scope of the native speaker’s standards which has dominated ELT for decades and has formulated the role of EFL teacher and students’ ultimate goal of L2 education. This presentation will equally appeal to novice teachers who try to define their educational identity and more experienced ones who constantly reflect on their teaching practices.


Vasiliki Lismani (EFL teacher / teacher trainer) holds a Bachelor from University of Athens, an MA in Special and Inclusive Education from Nottingham Trent University (UK) and she is CELTA certified. She is currently doing her MA in TESOL in Hellenic American University in Athens. She has presented in conferences and her articles have been published in magazines and newsletters.