Translanguaging and embodied teaching and learning: lessons from a multilingual karate club in London

Hua Zhu*, Wei Li, Daria Jankowicz-Pytel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
173 Downloads (Pure)


The purpose of this article is to explore the role of embodied repertories in teaching and learning in a multi-ethnic karate club in East London and its implications for language teaching and learning. We do so through the lens of translanguaging and apply the concept of translanguaging space where diverse semiotic systems are integrated and orchestrated. Through a close examination of how teaching and learning takes place in the karate club, we argue that embodied repertories are central to interactions and pedagogy. The coach manages and instructs the class through orchestration of embodied repertories and verbal instructions. Learning Japanese karate terms becomes part of embodied performance, repeated, copied and polished along with drilling of physical moves, whilst the other available linguistic repertories, Polish and English, become languages of discipline, explanation, elaboration or reinforcement. Such translanguaging practices serve the purpose of the karate club envisaged by the coach and become an effective way of communication amongst the participants from diverse linguistic backgrounds. The notion of translanguaging, in particular, the idea of orchestration, helps to highlight the multiplexity of resources in embodied teaching and learning and overcomes the monolingual and the lingual biases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-80
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
Issue number1
Early online date26 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • embodied repertoires
  • karate
  • linguistic ethnography
  • orchestration
  • Translanguaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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