Despite the increasing number of studies on translanguaging practices in diverse multilingual communities, little is known as to why or how Korean heritage language (KHL) learners use translanguaging. Thus, this case study aims to investigate the role of translanguaging in KHL learner use of linguistic and cultural resources in identity construction and social belonging. Using translanguaging as the primary theoretical framework, our research examines a female KHL learner’s language usage beyond the instructional setting.
The findings revealed that the participant’s translanguaging practices (re)constructed her idea of “Koreanness,” enabled her to access the local Korean communities, and further developed her social belonging. The KHL learner also created multilingual repertoires using shared discourses, experiences, and interactional histories. This practice further enabled her to adopt and negotiate culturally embedded language use regarding audiences and their level of Korean proficiency. Social interactions with other heritage language speakers created translanguaging spaces where the participant collaboratively constructed her linguistic repertoires. The study urges an in-depth understanding of the complex interplay of heritage language usage, identity, and social interaction. Additionally, it calls for pedagogical support for heritage language learners’ translanguaging as a linguistic and cultural investment.