Southern Cross scholar shares innovative bilingual teaching methods at global forum
Southern Cross scholar Dr. Sally Ashton-Hay is passionate about delivering a better education to bilingual students. Today, she shares her knowledge with a global community of colleagues through an innovative language teaching method centered on “translanguaging”.
As part of the Virtual English Language Specialist Program – a partnership with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Estonia – Dr. Ashton-Hay recently presented virtually at a global conference on languages, cultures and ethnicities for teachers of English on translinguage. in the form of virtual teacher training sessions for students in initial training and their teachers.
Translanguaging is a new teaching method used to support bilingual Southern Cross students studying the Southern Cross business program in China.
Dr Ashton-Hay was selected for the Virtual English Language Specialist project following the publication of her and her colleagues’ work on the subject last year in the Journal of International Education in Business.
Dr Ashton-Hay said more than 180 people attended his virtual presentations.
“They were interested in translinguing as a subject, but also in how it could be implemented. What it meant, what it involved, where it was done in the world and how they could apply it in their context,” she said.
Dr Ashton-Hay said an important translingual strategy for work done in China involved bilingual students developing a collaborative glossary.
“We had the English semester, and the students agreed in groups on what would be the best translation for sustainability or sustainable business management. And they used it in a sentence in English and Chinese,” Dr Ashton-Hay said.
“And so, in building this glossary, they got to know the terms and they talked about them, learned them, and they could refer to them as a learning artifact.”
Dr Ashton-Hay said other translingual strategies allow students to choose which language they want to communicate in online activities and problem solving.
She said she received positive feedback for both her virtual presentation and her teacher training sessions, with the US State Department now taking steps to publish her presentation.
“It was professionally exhilarating. It’s a highlight of my career, I have to say,” she said.
The project is one of approximately 200 projects funded each year by the US State Department. The English Language Specialist program aims to bring about significant and lasting change in the way English is taught overseas.
Dr Ashton-Hay said his passion for teaching English to non-English speakers stems from his desire to see students from diverse backgrounds thrive in a classroom.
After earning a teaching degree in English Language Arts, she completed a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and later a PhD in Education.
“It just seemed like there was more and more diversity in the classes. And a lot of people didn’t know how to teach these students,” she said. “I had a heart for it and wanted to see them succeed.”