Previous research suggests that enhanced cognitive and metacognitive skills are achieved when translanguaging techniques are applied in a multilingual classroom. This paper presents findings on the effects of translanguaging techniques on teaching grade 4 learners how to apply relevant background knowledge when drawing inferences during reading. It examines the efficacy of simultaneously using the learners’ home language and second language in reading development among bilingual Xhosa-English readers in a rural school in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The study adopted a quasi-experimental design where the participants attempted pre-tests in the targeted languages and then after an intervention were provided interventions using translanguaging techniques, thereafter they attempted post-tests. The findings indicate improved performance in terms of learners’ use of background knowledge when drawing inferences, instead of heavily relying on the reading text. The researchers argue for a literacy model that integrates skills and practices drawn from all accessible linguistic repertoires of learners when dealing with reading development at elementary grades since this helps learners develop a sense of self, which in return allows them to be active participants in their learning.