Article Project-based learning and the development of translingual/transcultural subjectivities: Case studies from the Italian classroom

Gaspar, Borbala; Warner, Chantelle
Volume 02 - Issue 1
case study; project-based language learning; literacy; culture; subjectivity
University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center; (co-sponsored by American Association of University of Supervisors and Coordinators; Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition; Center for Educational Reources in Culture, Language, and Literacy; Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning; Open Language Resource Center; Second Language Teaching and Resource Center)
Gaspar, B., & Warner, C. (2021). Project-based learning and the development of translingual/transcultural subjectivities: Case studies from the Italian classroom. Second Language Research & Practice, 2(1), 1–23.
Full Record
Contemporary approaches to second language and culture education often emphasize the importance of meaningful experiences, which in the case of instructed language learning, has prompted interest in pedagogies that allow learners to engage with acts of doing and creating that go beyond language practice. Project-based learning, which gives learners opportunities to solve a problem or develop a product relatively autonomously, remains one of the main models for what this can look like in the classroom. Some recent studies have suggested that project-based pedagogies coupled with literacy-oriented approaches can also foster learners’ awareness of discourse and how language choices index identities within a given community (e.g., Michelson, 2019). This study contributes to these conversations by exploring how project-based learning coupled with ideas from contemporary literacy studies can engage a range of multisensory meaning-making resources, which afford learners rich opportunities to experiment with their own positions vis-a-vis aspects of the language and culture they are studying. Based on three case studies from an intermediate Italian class, the article shows how some students worked within and beyond the parameters of the project—a multi-week research project on a cultural topic of the students’ choosing—to fashion for themselves translingual and transcultural subjectivities (Kramsch, 2009), with personal relationships to the Italian language and culture. The article concludes with implications for project-based pedagogies that approach literacy as lived experience that goes beyond texts, as well as for future research that considers literacy activities as multisensory.