Bilingualism, Multilingualism, Translingualism — We do it all

Jennifer Peña, Institution
Nicole Larraguibel, Institution
Mario Avalos, Institution
Xuan Jiang, Institution


This position paper exemplifies potential and existing applications of bilingualism, multilingualism, and translingualism in tutoring sessions with support from existing literature and contextual examples from a public state university’s writing center. The authors advocate for the acceptance and incorporation of a diverse range of languages, dialects, and accents in writing and tutoring practices, providing local context to support the development of the writing center as a hub for diversity and a sense of belonging, to the benefit of participating students. Using reviewed literature, this paper examines existing strategies and how they can be applied to a specific writing center environment and describes its broader implications and methods of possible replication in other writing centers. Through a video by a conversation circle facilitator at the aforementioned state university writing center, this paper describes the benefits and means of developing cross-cultural communication skills in the increasingly multicultural and multilingual university context. Further, this paper provides examples of specific strategies used at the writing center, both online and in-person, that spread awareness of a writing center’s multilingual offerings and can be replicated at other writing centers in different regional settings. Combining strategies from literature and the center’s own practices, this paper contributes a unique perspective on the applications and benefits of embracing bilingualism, multilingualism, and translingualism beyond local contexts; other writing center administrators, tutors, and tutoring practitioners alike can incorporate the discussed strategies that are appropriate to the unique linguistic needs of the students at the universities they serve.

Key words: linguistic diversity, inter linguistic, interlinguistic, intra linguistic, advocacy of writing across languages


This position paper will discuss how to promote bilingualism, multilingualism, and translingualism in a writing center of, by, and for multilingual students at Florida International University (FIU) who have been insufficiently represented in the university’s curriculum and instruction.

FIU is one of the largest U.S. Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), with over 60% of its undergraduates being Latino/Hispanic (National Center for Education Statistics, n.d.). The university serves first-generation and low-income students with financial hardships “who otherwise would not have access to higher education” (Lacayo, 2018; U.S. News & World Report, n.d.). It ranked top six in social mobility among national universities in 2018 (EAB Daily Briefing, 2019). In addition to its domestic students from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, FIU is a host institution of more than 3500 international students from over 140 countries (Office of International Student & Scholar Services, n.d.). FIU students are constantly being exposed to different languages and cultures through events by student organizations and cultural awareness initiatives, such as conversation circles by the Center for Excellence in Writing (CEW).