Reader Response Journal

Pluralizing English? Variation in High-Stakes Academic Texts and Challenges of Copyediting by Joel Heng Hartse and Ryuko Kubota

This article looks at the conflict between the move towards greater acceptance of variety in English (World Englishes, ELF, translanguaging, etc.) and the requirements for error-free standard language in academic publishing. The authors use their collaboration on Demystifying Career Paths after Graduate School, a book edited by Kubota, a non-native speaker, and copyedited by Heng Hartse, a native speaker, to look at the tensions between their commitment to pluralization in theory and their actual editing practice, even though they made retaining non-native speaker authors’ voices a deliberate and explicit goal. To frame their discussion of their own work, they outline four approaches to variation in written texts by non-native speakers, the traditional error-based approach, the World Englishes approach, the translingual approach and the written English as a lingua franca approach. The latter three are more inclusive and accepting of variation, but are difficult to reconcile with publishers’ expectations. (Interestingly, a corpus of Written English as a Lingua Franca in Academic settings (WrELFA) was developed by the University of Helsinki and should provide more data for future explorations on non-native speakers’ high-stakes writing.) They explore the ambiguity of most academic journals’ standards in terms of language, and note TESOL Quarterly and the Journal of English as a Lingua Franca as two exceptions that explicitly welcome writers with different norms. Next, they explore the “text history” of their own editing process, looking at specific changes and the reasons they made them while editing their book. Specifically they address changing individual words (would, getting tenure), resolving sentence-level ambiguity, and changing the book’s title to conform to native speaker norms. They acknowledge the role that native speaker intuition played in these changes, despite their desire to edit as lightly as possible. They end the piece with suggestions for more progress towards the recognition of variation by publishers and recommend that second language writing researchers communicate their findings to those in gate keeping positions at publication. They suggest several potential research questions and call on everyone involved in the publication process to balance intelligibility with non-native speakers’ voices, encouraging copyeditors in particular to ask “why do I want this change to be made?” (p. 81) for every change.

I read this article because, as co-editor of the Social Responsibility Interest Section newsletter for TESOL, I’m editing non-native speakers’ writing for publication for the first time, and many of the questions that Heng Hartse asked himself are ones I’ve been wondering about. Second language writing has never been a major area of exploration for me, and most of the students I’ve taught have been at a much lower proficiency level, so this is my first time really thinking about how to give effective feedback to really high level non native speaker writers, and where the line between errors, variation and style is. One thing I was struck by was how much “native speaker intuition” was referred to, which I’m sure is the case in my own editing as well. I’m definitely going to start being more critical of the way I approach my editing work, and distinguishing between what’s actually impeding communication or making the ideas unclear, versus what’s just my own personal preference in terms of style or language use. It’s definitely true that there is a tension between our ideals as advocates of inclusive approaches and the expectations of readers and publishers, but I think TESOL newsletters are exactly the type of publication best positioned to actually incorporate new approaches.

Heng Hartse, J. & Kubota, R. (2014). Pluralizing English? Variation in high-stakes academic writing and challenges of copyediting. Journal of Second Language Writing, 24, 71-82.

Reader Response Journal

Black Lives Matter in TESOL: De-Silencing Race in a Second Language Academic Literacy Course by Anne Marie Guerrettaz and Tara Zahler

This article outlines a course for international college students in the US that sought to develop academic multiliteracies around issues of race, which are current and relevant in US culture. Two white teachers structured a course around the novel A Lesson Before Dying, about a black man in 1940s Louisiana wrongly sentenced to death (Gaines, 1993) and connected it to current racial tensions, such as the Black Lives Matter movement. They used multiliteracies as a framework for the course, with fours phases: 1) experiencing, connecting new knowledge to what they already know, 2) conceptualizing, generating frameworks based on specific examples, 3) analyzing, critical evaluations of interrelationships between the issues and 4) applying, using what they’ve learned in real-world situations (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009). Beyond the main text, the teacher supplemented with other sources to help students develop background knowledge necessary to understand the novel, make connections to current events and to incorporate voice, multimodality and intertextuality into the course. They also draw on counterstorytelling to challenge dominant narratives and epistemological racism. The teachers describe how they situated the novel historically (after realizing that some of the students thought the characters were slaves), and gave texts that show the persistence of racial issues today. They analyze the texts using critical intertextual analysis, focusing on themes of language (AAVE) and black masculinity, and helping students understand AAVE as a legitimate language variety (not just “bad English”) and develop empathy for the characters and, by extension, other black people experiencing racial injustice. They also describe the final written assignments for the course, where students drew on what they learned to produce their own essays. Guerrettaz and Zahler list the sources used in the course and call on other teachers to de-silence race in their ESL classes.

Having done as much research as I have on critical race theory, race in TESOL and multiliteracies, the frameworks used in this article were very familiar to me, so it was mostly interesting to see how they connected them in their course design. While the approach seems straightforward, it’s good to have more examples out there for teachers who might be less comfortable with racial issues, providing an example of how they can integrate them into the classroom. While this piece focused exclusively on the teachers’ perceptions of their course design, I would be interested in hearing about students’ perspectives in classes like this, especially since they mentioned that most of their students were Asian, and often race in America gets constructed as a black/white dichotomy and the experiences of Asians and Asian-Americans tend to be sidelined. While I think anti-black racism is particularly pressing, and the exploration of AAVE is interesting from a language equality perspective, race in America is more complicated than that. While I haven’t read Gaines’ novel, I imagine from this article that it focuses on characters who are either black or white. I’m wondering how to keep the focus on anti-blackness in the US, which is absolutely crucial to understanding US culture and definitely something international students in the US should be exposed to, while also not simplifying America’s racial landscape.

I also wished the piece, given its title, did more to actually engage with Black Lives Matter, and how TESOL can better engage with black students, black teachers and black English. (For a really compelling look at Black Lives Matter and bilingual education, check out Nelson Flores’ excellent blog post Do Black Lives Matter in Bilingual Education? and the follow up by Joseph Wiemelt, Do Black Lives Matter in Dual Language Education in Urbana School District 116?)

This article is currently available for free online here.

Gaines, E. J. (1993). A lesson before dying. New York, NY: Random House.

Guerrettaz, A. M. & Zahler, T. (2017). Black Lives Matter in TESOL: De-silencing race in a second language academic literacy course. TESOL Quarterly, 51(1), 193-207.

Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2009). “Multiliteracies”: New literacies, new learning. Pedagogies: An International Journal, 4, 164–195.

Reader Response Journal

Racism and Linguicism: Engaging Language-Minority Pre-Service Teachers in Counter-Storytelling by Hyesun Cho

This article examines the ways in which two teachers engaged their Asian non-native speaking teacher education students in counter-storytelling to create a space for them to explore their experiences with racial and linguistic marginalization in academia. This class was a part of a program specifically designed for language-minority teacher candidates, which is important given the disparity between US student and teacher demographics, where 40% of students are racial or ethnic minorities, compared to just 16% of teachers (Kohli, 2014). After explaining the basics of critical race theory, linguicism and counter-storytelling, Cho describes the context of her research. Her study took place in Hawaii and included five undergraduate students, all of whom were non-native English speakers (3 Korean, 1 Chinese and 1 Samoan), as well as herself, a Korean non-native English speaker, and a white native English speaking teacher, who also spoke Spanish. She describes how she encouraged students to tell counter-stories, which included they ways their peers and teachers positioned them as deficient because of their non-native speaking status, despite their academic success, which allowed them to challenge the linguicism they faced. This was done to investigate the ways race and language are enacted in dominant school practices. She then examines the differences in the students’ response to herself, an Asian NNEST, compared to her co-teacher, a white NEST. When the white teacher first brought up issues of race, the students initially defended the white teachers they had, which Cho hypothesizes might be because of the power balance and students not wanting to cause conflict with the white teacher. They also asked the white teacher questions about teaching non-native speakers instead of her own language learning experiences, while they asked Cho about her experiences as a NNES student, and felt like she could relate and empathize with what they were going through, because she was one of them. The students found validation in the way Cho elicited and responded to their stories. In contrast, the white teacher was cognizant of being separate from the rest of the group, due to her racial and linguistic identity. Conscious of not wanting to gloss over her white privilege or influence the students’ ideas as a result, she used race-conscious discourse to denormalize white native speakers as the unmarked default and lessen the power of her own white identity. Cho found that the collaboration between herself and the white teacher was productive because they could explore the differences in the students’ responses. Having a white NEST exposed the students to a white anti-racist and reinforced he idea that these issues are important for everyone to engage with, not just minorities. Having an Asian NNEST created a space where the students more actively engaged with issues of racism and linguicism and lead to increased solidarity due to their shared experiences. While Cho didn’t use the terms counter-storytelling with her students, she recommends using the term in the future, so students understand that their stories have a grounding in critical race theory.

The juxtaposition of the experiences of the white NEST and Asian NNEST experiences were really interesting to me. One of the things I was struck by was the way Cho’s students noticed and felt valued by her reactions to their stories, such as note taking, responding in depth and showing non-verbal support, which are concrete actions that teachers of any race or language background could use. It was also interesting the way Cho foregrounded the white teacher’s bilingualism and language learning experiences, which the students didn’t really engage with. It makes me wonder how much the dominant narrative of white native speakers as being monolingual affected the students relationship to her. Perhaps, solidarity and empathy could have been built up here along language learning lines, with a recognition of the fact that white and non-white language learners are not treated the same in societal discourse. It was also useful for me to see an example of how simple counter-storytelling can be, which makes them seem more accessible, since it’s basically just creating a space for students to discuss their experiences together and encouraging them to engage with racial and linguistic issues as they do. I think mentally framing conversations about personal experiences as counter-stories gives them more weight. It makes me wonder if the students would have perceived them differently if they had been given the label, or if it would have felt heavier somehow and made it more difficult to discuss. Especially, since I have the distance of being a white native speaker already. I wonder when in the process Cho would give students the term counter-storytelling and explain the CRT framework behind it.

Cho, H. (2016). Racism and linguicism: Engaging language minority pre-service teachers in counter-storytelling. Race, Ethnicity and Education. Advance online publication. 

Kohli, R. (2014). Unpacking internalized racism: Teachers of color and their challenge to racial hierarchies in the classroom. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 17(3), 367–387.

Reader Response Journal

Climate Change and TESOL: Language, Literacies, and the Creation of Eco-Ethical Consciousness by Jason Goulah

This is a fascinating article from the most recent TESOL Quarterly, in which Goulah calls on the TESOL field to engage with issues of climate change in order to help students develop value-creative eco-ethical consciousness. He briefly outlines some of the major ecological-based ways of conceptualizing language, which encompass more holistic approaches than traditional environmental education. Since TESOL is interested in both language and content standards, which include climate change, he argues the field needs deeper engagement with environmental issues. Since climate change is a particularly divisive issue, with people’s responses determined more by their cultural, religious and political values than by facts, the discussion is “no longer really about science—it’s about culture.” (Shepard, 2014). He argues that the religious aspect is particularly important to focus on, and his study examines the experiences of religious refugees from the former Soviet Union during a unit on climate change in a US public high school. He situates his study within a value-creation framework, which encompasses “individual gain, social-moral good, and aesthetic beauty” (p. 94). He also draws on kyosei, or creative coexistence, an active and engaged form of interdependence. Together, value-creation and creative coexistence move students towards their greater selves, “rooted in deep respect for the dignity of all life—including one’s own—and the wisdom to perceive the inextricable interdependence of that life.” (p.95). In his study he focuses on two learners, one a 17 year old Belarussian Baptist girl, the other a 17 year old Ukrainian Pentecostal boy. Before the unit, both said that they didn’t believe in climate change, but over the course of the study they developed a religiously grounded eco-ethical consciousness. Goulagh describes the way their teacher integrated language, literacy and content standards for the unit, using a sociodialogical approach for content-base discussions. The first example shows the techniques he used to facilitate vocabulary acquisition while discussing An Inconvenient Truth, including highlighting key terms, asking open questions and scaffolding students’ meaning-making. In the second example, he developed students’ critical literacies by having them examine two advertisements that referenced climate change, engaging the students in sociodialogical meaning making as a class and in small groups. The final example describes a digital video project, where the students worked in groups to create advertisements for being green (although they were also given the option to be against being green). While creating their videos, the students referred back to an earlier reading about evangelical environmentalism, which lead the two focal students to see climate change as akin to Noah’s flood in the Bible. Creating a space for the students’ religion to be incorporated into the discussion helped the two focal students bring their in-class answers in line with their personal views, since both were grounded in their religious understandings.

This article felt really new to me, since I haven’t read much about either religion or climate change in TESOL, and this article combines both. Goulah makes a really strong case for environmental issues to be integrated into English classes from an ethical perspective, that encourages students to really engage and develop their own personal consciousness, rather than just treating environmental issues as another topic for content based instruction. Neither of these are things I’ve done yet, and I think they would be really interesting to explore with my students, although I think there is a certain level of advanced language skills that are necessary to engage in ideas this complex, which my students here just don’t have. I feel like I’ll need to spend some more time thinking about and internalizing these ideas before I know how to adapt them for my context,. Especially since the naturalist intelligence has been the one that’s been hardest to integrate into my teaching for my MI project, this seems important for me to put some more thought into. It’s one of the most original and exciting things I’ve read about TESOL in a while, in part because it challenges me to think about my teaching through a new lens.

Also, at least for the time being, this article is free to download or read online and I highly, highly recommend checking it out.

Goulah, J. (2017). Climate change and TESOL: Language, literacies, and the development of eco-ethical consciousness. TESOL Quarterly, 51(1), 90-114.

Sheppard, K. (2014, May 21). Climate change is the single most divisive political issue, says poll. Huffington Post.

Reader Response Journal

Addressing Gender in the ESL/EFL Classroom by Bonny Norton and Aneta Pavlenko

This forum piece provides an overview of feminist teaching practices in English classrooms int the US, Canada and Japan. Norton and Pavlenko see gender as socially constructed and contextually situated, and therefore an ideal topic for exploration in the intercultural environment of an English class. First, they explore curricular innovations that make English classes more accessible for female students, looking at two programs in the US that incorporate student needs in terms of scheduling, transportation and relevance to their cultures and concerns, as well as two courses for college students and adults in Japan that integrate feminist ideas into linguistic analyses. They also mention two programs that examine male students’ needs, a module for both male and female students to explore gender issues at a university in Japan and the adoption of an English for Occupational Purposes class designed to meet the needs of male Malaysian university students who were disengaged from traditional language classes because they didn’t focus enough on business. These course all reorganized curricula to incorporate the students’ experiences. Feminist classroom practices also involve the choice of materials and topics. Examples include a writing class centered around soap operas in Canada, and two classes in Japan, one designed to create dialogues around feminist textbooks and one that used life writing to get students to explore their own experiences. The third approach they consider is the incorporation of difficult topics into language classes, as a way to explore the societal and cultural construction of gender. They mention a class that used a picture of two lesbian women holding hands to teach modal auxiliaries and a class that explored Chinese family dynamics as an entry point to practicing intonation. They also describe a case study that examined the ways international teaching assistants perceived sexual harassment scenarios, which varied across both gender and culture. The final area that Pavlenko and Norton address is classroom power dynamics. The mention a study that researched how unequal power relations led Japanese girls to be silent in class and an examination of the ways that college writing centers can be sites for feminist composition pedagogy.

Collectively, these examples, while only mentioned briefly, provide an overview of the variety of ways gender and feminist issues can be incorporated into ESL and EFL classes and programs. One thing I was struck by was the fact that virtually all of the examples focused on adults, either in adult education programs or university settings. I think that, as a teacher of children and teenagers, usually in public school settings, it can seem like there are more barriers to incorporating social issues into the classroom, but that its incredibly powerful when these ideas are normalized at a young age. Feminist approaches, such as power sharing and examining texts with feminist themes, can be implemented even with young students, although in these contexts they are more likely to be integrated into preexisting courses (like the modal and intonation examples), rather than serving as the basis for an entire course. While my education was entirely in English, rather than a second language, I remember the ways my elementary school teachers encouraged us to reconsider what we thought of as just and fair and taken for granted, and having that as part of my childhood education was really important. I want to make sure my students get similar exposure to social issues in my classes. I’m also curious what has changed in the years since Norton and Pavlenko wrote this, especially in terms of the way teachers in developing countries are engaging with gender issues, since “gender balance” was such a buzzword when I was in Tanzania.

Norton, B. & Pavlenko, A. (2004). Addressing gender in the ESL/EFL classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 38(3), 504-513.

Reader Response Journal

Plurilingual Pedagogical Practices in a Policy-Constrained Context: A Northern Ugandan Case Study by Doris Maandebo Abiria, Margaret Early and Maureen Kendrick

This article examines the ways a group of teachers at a primary school in Northern Uganda used plurilingual and multimodal techniques in their subject-area classes. In Uganda, schools are allowed to use one local language as the medium of instruction until 3rd grade, but then are expected to switch to English in fourth grade (called P4 for primary 4). While the school in the study was in a Lugbara speaking area, it had students from a number of different countries and language backgrounds, making for a very multilingual student body. Uganda is also an exam-driven context, where the students are expected to take high stakes tests in English, which often have very poor results. The school in question is run by the government and has very few resources (P4 initially had over 100 students per class, until they regrouped them into classes of 77). The six teachers in the study said that when the asked students questions in English, they would get blank stares, so they developed alternative pedagogies to reach them, despite these being in opposition to the stated government policies. The primary strategies that the teachers used were translating into the dominant local language, using students as peer tutors to reach those who spoke other languages and using a wide range of semiotic modes to communicate meaning, including dramas, demonstrations, songs, drawings and role plays. As Abiria, one of the researchers, notes, these strategies were effective because they came from the teachers themselves, rather than being imposed by the Ministry. Despite these innovations, the teachers were conflicted. Challenges they faced included breaking the ministry rules in a context where school inspectors have a lot of power, initial training that was focused on theory rather than practice, lack of on-going professional development opportunities, curriculum restraints, including the need to teach very specialized vocabulary, national examinations conducted exclusively in English, lack of time and resources and large class sizes. Nonetheless, the etchers continued to use a range of linguistic and multimodal resources to communicate content effectively to their students, because according to one teacher “they are so excited…they are free” (p. 587). and the alternative is disengagement and students dropping out. The fact that the head teacher and parents saw the importance of these strategies (and the futility of the monolingual alternative) was also an incentive for the teachers to keep using them.

I am always interested in reading about TESOL practice in Africa, and East Africa in particular. I love comparing the situations in these studies to those at my schools in Tanzania. It’s interesting that Ugandan schools do the same sort of switch of the medium of instruction as in Tanzania, they just do it earlier, and in a country without a single dominant language to serve as a lingua franca between different groups, the way Swahili is in Tanzania, they leave the choice of language of instruction for grades 1-3 up to the local schools. It’s also interesting that Northern Uganda is so multiethnic, multilingual and multinational, because my area of Tanzania was almost exclusively populated by students from the same tribe. However, some of the challenges, including the importance of the national examinations, the lack of resources and the fact that ministry decisions seem out of touch with teacher’s on the ground realities are quite similar. Also, the more I read about plurilingual pedagogies, the more practical they seem to me. Despite the fact that I speak Swahili, in Tanzania I taught almost (but not quite) entirely in English. I wonder how I could have used these teachers’ techniques there. I think the integration of the translanguaging methodologies with other communicative modalities is a particularly important idea, and something I’m trying to use in my classes here in Ecuador, where I use Spanish alongside my MI-based approaches in an attempt to reach the students. Like the Ugandan teachers, I’m a bit conflicted about the approaches I’m using here, but I think they’re better than the alternative of students’ blank stares and lack of comprehension.

Abiria, D. M., Early, M. & Kendrick, M. (2013). Plurilingual pedagogical practices in a policy-constrained context: A northern Ugandan case study. TESOL Quarterly, 47(3), 567-590.

Reader Response Journal

More than a Game: A Critical Discourse Analysis of a Racial Inequality Exercise in Japan by Kay Hammond

This article outlines another racial discrimination simulation, this time at a university in Japan. Hammond frames her study with discussions of simulations games, race relations in Japan, critical pedagogies and critical discourse analysis. Hammond carried out her inequality simulation twice, based on procedures similar to the Jane Elliott’s Brown Eyes/Blue Eyes exercise. The first year she divided student based on the color of their clothing, but the second she made the marginalized group wear pink sashes. She enacted a number of discriminatory practices, keeping her distance and refusing to make eye contact with the disfavored group, referring to them collectively rather than by name and invalidating their efforts to imitate the favored group. In contrast, she used the names of the students in the favored group, spoke to them enthusiastically and praised their efforts. The first year she had two groups of equal size, with each student spending half their time as part of each group. Based on student feedback, in the second year, the favored group was twice as large as the non-favored group, which meant each student experienced being in the favored group twice and the non-favored group once. In the first session, the favored students adopted one member of the non-favored group to treat well, decided what to do with the extra chairs provided for them (the non-favored group did not have enough chairs for everyone) and chose a name for the non-favored group. In the second session, Hammond gave the favored group a set of non-verbal instructions, which allowed them to follow along during a gibberish discussion, while the non-favored group was lost. The favored group members were also given pieces of paper to make into balls to throw at the non-favors group, which only received one sheet of paper to share amongst themselves. In the final session students took a fake test with impossible answers, to allow one student from the non-favored group to be promoted to the favored group. One test sheet had the correct answer printed on it in advance, ensuring that that student and only that student would pass. After the simulation, the students wrote written reflections on their experiences, which Hammond compared to written statements by people who has experienced actual racial discrimination. She compared the themes and found the students responses to be similar to the authentic accounts, including themes such as uncomfortable feelings, entitlement and coping mechanisms. This implied that the students’ awareness of racial issues had, in fact, increased. However, then she did a critical discourse analysis to examine the language that the students had used. She found that the students engaged in several forms of diversion, focusing attention on overt rather than subtle forms of racism, and shifting their reflections away from racial issues by making analogies to other forms of discrimination. Hammond reflects on the ways her own identity and the choices she made while designing the simulation might have encouraged these forms of diversion. By framing the exercise as being intended to help students see “what discrimination feels like” (p. 562), she encouraged them to focus on their experiences when they were in the discriminated group, rather than the experience of being part of the privileged group, which was also part of the exercise. By including obviously discriminatory actions in each of the sessions, she may have led them to focus on overt racism and the expense of recognizing more subtle forms. In the second year, when the favored group was larger, she may have discouraged the students from recognizing that racism can be enacted by powerful groups, even when they are numerically smaller. By enacting the most obvious behaviors herself, she also framed racism as being made up of visible individual actions, rather than subtle systemic and intergroup practices. She also reflects that her own identity as a White woman may have influenced the student responses, which were written in English rather than Japanese. She ends the article with a section on the pedagogical implications of her study, encouraging teachers to make sure that their students aren’t allowed to use diversionary tactics such as focusing only on overt racism or making analogies that don’t then return to the racial issues. She gives some specific suggestions on how her simulation could be modified to include more subtle forms of racism, including framing the activity as a chance to experience racism from both sides, including actions that contain more subtle forms of racism (like the benevolent racism of praising the disfavored group for only one characteristic) and sometimes conducting simulations where the favored group is in the minority. She also encourages a more critical awareness of the language students use in their reflections after such exercises.

The biggest takeaway from this article for me was how the content and the language of the students’ reactions could carry such different messages. Recognizing the diversionary tactics that people engage in to avoid in depth consideration of social issues is really important, and this article makes it clear just how much students can be avoiding the core issues while seeming to achieve the goals of an exercise. I was also struck by how thoughtfully Hammond deconstructed the way she might have contributed to these diversionary discourses. Thinking about the impact of the choices we make as teachers is incredibly important, and Hammond clearly demonstrates how this is even more the case when our goal is to raise our students’ social awareness. In the future, if I ever use activities that are similar to this, I will be sure to incorporate the more subtle forms of discrimination as well, which is necessary for a complete picture of how racism plays out in society.

Hammond, K. (2006). More than a game: A critical discourse analysis of a racial inequality exercise in Japan. TESOL Quarterly, 40(3), 545-571.

Reader Response Journal

Promoting Critical Racial Awareness in Teacher Education in Korea: Reflections on a Racial Discrimination Simulation Activity by Shannon Tanghe

This article describes a racial discrimination simulation activity that Tanghe carried out with her Korean teacher education students. Based off of Jane Elliott’s Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes experiment and Kay Hammond’s adaptation, she divided her students into two groups, one of which was treated as privileged and the other as disadvantaged for half of the class period, before the two groups switched roles. Tanghe provides ample background on the “one race” ideology that is so prevalent in South Korea, as well as the nation’s increasing diversity and the ways that non-Korean or multicultural students face discrimination in Korean schools, to provide context for her students’ reactions to the simulation. Based on a pre-simulation survey, most of her students believed that racism exists in South Korea, but isn’t a factor in their classrooms. This is consistent with Korean policies that put the onus of assimilation on multicultural students or non-Korean immigrants, rather than addressing racism with mainstream Korean Koreans (a repetition Tanghe uses deliberately to disaggregate Korean ethnicity and nationality). However, the simulation and subsequent reflections did lead some teachers to reconsider their personal experiences with race and the relevance of race to their school contexts. However, others felt that it was not an appropriate issue to address in language classes. That said, Tanghe points out that the Korean national curriculum does, in fact, expect students to understand other cultures and develop a “cooperative spirit as a cosmopolitan citizen,” which means that addressing racial issues in Korean classrooms can be justified as part of the teacher’s job. Tanghe recommends that Korea implements multicultural education programs targeted at mainstream ethnic Koreans, not just ethnic minorities, and suggests that teacher training programs need to integrate diversity training and raise teachers’ awareness of their own privilege, as well as schools hiring more diverse teachers. By implementing these suggestions, she hopes that Korea can move away from its current practices of ignoring race as unnecessary in homogenous classrooms, and refusing to address it in diverse classrooms to avoid singling out non-Korean students and causing discomfort. Given the changing demographics of the country, race is an important issue for teachers to be able to address in class.

This article was interesting, because it describes a race-focused version of the linguicism demonstration that Tanghe presented at this year’s TESOL conference, which I am using as a starting point for my linguicism article for the SRIS newsletter. The background on Korea’s racial identity and changing demographics was interesting and seemed accurate to me, based on my informal perceptions when I lived there, so it was good to see that actual data and studies back up my intuitions about Korea’s racial problems. It was also both plausible and shocking that so many Korean teacher candidates viewed race as something so distant from them and their classes. It makes me wonder how else teachers of racially homogenous classes can productively address race in their classes in a way that makes it real and important for their students, not something that happens somewhere else far away, especially since colonial legacies mean systems of white supremacy and racial hierarchies are in place pretty much all over the world.

Tanghe, S. (2016). Promoting critical racial awareness in teacher education in Korea: Reflections on a racial discrimination simulation activity. Asia Pacific Educational Review, 17(2), 203-215.

Reader Response Journal

Using Local Languages in English Language Classrooms by Ahmar Mahboob and Angel Lin

This chapter examines why local languages are devalued in ELT pedagogy and proposes a model for incorporating local languages into the classroom in a multimodal way. After the Grammar Translation method fell out of fashion, the inner-circle dominated methodological developments, which meant that techniques were being designed with an ESL context, without a dominant language shared by all students, in mind. In this context, focusing on English-only instruction made sense, but the techniques were exported to other countries as the most current and modern approaches, without adapting to local EFL conditions. The result of the global spread of these inner circle approaches has been the perpetuation of the myths that languages are stable, standardized and rule-governed, rather than socially situated and fluid; the language learning is a zero sum game, where using the local language detracts from students’ ability to learn the target language and that language is a commodity that can be bought, sold and internationally marketed, turning teaching into an exchange of goods. In contrast to these harmful approaches, Mahboob and Lin argue for “more inclusive and context dependent models of language” (p. 9). They argue that local languages can be used in class for ideational, textual and interpersonal functions. They analyze an extract from a study Lin did in 1999, where a bilingual teacher in Hong Kong used codeswitching for Intiation-Response-Feedback exchanges. When the exchanges focused on the story (interpersonal function), all three phases were conducted in Cantonese, but when the exchanges were about language (ideational or textual functions), the initiation and response phases were in either language and were repeated until the student response was in English with the feedback in English as well. In this way, she started where the students were comfortable and built them towards the English expressions. They end their chapter by outlining Lin’s Multimodalities/Entextualization Cycle (MEC) as a method for systematically incorporating local languages into the classroom. In the first phase, students’ interest in the topic is raised through multimodalities and the use of familiar language, either LL or TL. In the second phase, students read a target language text and unpack it using everyday language, either LL or TL, along with multimodal representations of the meaning. In the third stage, students entextualize (put the experience in the text) using scaffolded academic target language in the appropriate genres.

The historical context that they give on why English only instruction is so dominant is really useful for thinking about why its ok to challenge the existing paradigm. Essentially, the use of the inner circle strategies in EFL contexts was never consciously chosen as appropriate (and certainly wasn’t based on research showing its effectiveness), but instead was a quirk of the cultural and economic dominance of the inner circle countries, which were uncritically adopted as normative worldwide, rather than being perceived as locally and contextually specific to the countries the techniques were developed in. The balance between local languages in the class is something I’ve been thinking about a lot here in Ecuador, where I use a fair bit of Spanish in my teaching. The MEC approach and the example of the teacher in Hong Kong both seem worthwhile, but they assume the teacher has full (rather than partial) abilities in the local language. I’m interesting in exploring whether there are any resources or studies out there about teachers who are not native speakers of the local language using it as an effective teaching tool in the classroom, and if so, what the best ways to do that are. It’s also interesting to me how strong the discourse of shame around LL in the classroom is too, which is definitely something I feel here at times. It’m thinking back on World Teach’s training, where they didn’t advocate for an English-only classroom, but they did discourage the use of Spanish to teach English content (instead suggesting it only for procedural information, like directions). It’s a step in the right direction, but not far enough yet. In contrast, the Edificar training was super dismissive of any valid role for Spanish inside the English classroom, which is problematic and increasingly out of date. Reading this now has encouraged me to incorporate plutilingual pedagogy into my EcuaTESOL proposal, alongside multiple intelligences and multimodality.

Mahboob, A., & Lin, A. M. Y. (2016). Using local languages in English language classrooms. In Willy A. Renandya and Handoyo P. Widodo (Eds.), English language teaching today: Building a closer link between theory and practice. New York: Springer.

Reader Response Journal

The Mapping of a Framework: Critical Race Theory and TESOL by Tonda Liggett

In this article, Liggett connects critical race theory (CRT) to the experiences of linguistic minority TESOL students. She positions her examination in the current, hostile political climate and uses current events to inform her analysis and as examples of the phenomena she writes about. She notes that linguicism has become accepted as a way of continuing discrimination against racial groups, couched in linguistic rather than racial terms in the public discourse, but that the two systems are mapped onto each other. Applying the core tenants of CRT to TESOL, she argues that linguicism is 1) an ordinary, invisible and pervasive feature of life for ELLs and perpetuated at the institutional and structural levels, just like racism is. One example she gives is the way No Child Left Behind sanctioned removal of resources from ELLs, despite Title VI’s mandate that students have access to fully funded educational programs regardless of race, even though ELLs in the US are predominately students of color. Racialized linguicism is also 2) part of the colonial legacy of white supremacy, and that discrimination against racialized language learners plays out at the policy level even today. Examples include Oregon requiring ELLs to take state standardized tests in English after one year, despite the fact that research shows academic language proficiency takes 5-7 years to develop, and California’s Proposition 227, which eliminated the possibility of funding for bilingual education. 3) Linguicism can be challenged through counterstorytelling, as a way to ‘‘analyze the myths, presuppositions, and received wisdoms that make up the common culture about race and that invariably render blacks and other minorities one-down (Delgado 1995, p. xiv).’’ This actively positions individual experience as worthy of theorization and helps teachers understand their students’ identities, situations and understandings of their own learning. As Liggett writes “Key to this interchange is connecting individual identity construction/ deconstruction to broader contextual factors that work to frame worldviews and ideas about individual possibility” (p. 118). Within TESOL, these three tenets of CRT help decenter White Anglo epistemic privilege and acknowledge students’ intersectional identities. Letting students “name their reality” is important because reality is socially constructed through storytelling, provide a psychic outlet for marginalized groups to heal their pain and challenge ethnocentrism. All of this happens within a postcolonial framework, where marginalized people try to “force its alternative knowledges into the power structures of the west as well as the non-west” (Young 2003, p. 7), which is important because of the ways the global economy structures migration from poor, rural and developing areas to those that are richer, urban and more developed. Using CRT to inform how we look at the intersections between race and linguicism allows us to better understand the perspectives that our students bring to the classroom.

Having researched the intersections between racism and linguicism extensively, and having used counterstorytelling as a core framework in my thesis, I was delighted to read this article. I really agree with her points and the ways she connects the two areas feel accurate to me. I also appreciated the ways she links the ideas she’s talking about to specific current events that illustrate them, because it makes the importance and relevance much more concrete. Overall, I think the 3 aspects she focuses on (the permanence and invisibility of linguicism, the colonial legacy and counterstorytelling) are going to be useful mental touchstones for me as I continue to think about these issues in the future. It also makes me want to read some of her references, especially those about CRT in its original form (ie not applied to TESOL), to make sure I have the proper grounding in the original theory.

Delgado, R. (Ed.). (1995). Critical race theory: The cutting edge. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Liggett, T. (2014). The mapping of a framework: Critical race theory and TESOL. The Urban Review, 46(1), 112-124.

Young, R. (2003). Postcolonialism. New York: Oxford University Press.