Reader Response Journal

Toward Identity-Oriented Teacher Education: Critical Autoethnographic Narrative by Bedrettin Yazan

In this article, Yazan outlines an approach to integrating critical autoethnographic narrative writing into teacher education programs. Situated against a backdrop of increased awareness of teacher education as a process of identity formation, he argues that critical autoethnographic narrative (CAN), is a tool that can help teacher candidates develop their identities and document their journey throughout the program. He proposes CAN as a living document, that teacher candidates work on over the course of their entire program, using a critical perspective to situated their experiences in the social context, and allowing them a chance to integrate their past experiences with their current learning through storying and re-storying. This narrative process solidifies the link between theory and practice and helps teacher candidates talk their way into understanding the meaningfulness of their experiences. Autoethnography, “stories of/about the self told through the lens of culture” (Adams, Holman Jones, & Ellis, 2015, p. 2), is emerging as a valid genre of research in TESOL, and Yazan mentions one doctoral dissertation, two masters theses and three published articles in the field that use the method. Next, he outlines his vision for how CAN would be integrated into a teacher education program, with teacher candidates completing their first reflection prior to entering the program and revising their narrative continuously throughout the entire length of the program. He sees CAN as being shared on an online platform, allowing multiple people to comment on the work in progress, while also being a graded assignment in every course of the entire program. He suggests that there could also be a one credit class for students to discuss their writing experiences each semester. He sees it as being a central organizing feature of the entire program. He notes that teacher candidates will have to be guided towards the critical component and provides a list of questions that can help them unpack master narratives that uphold dominant ideologies. He also points out that teachers are valid knowledge producers in TESOL, but are underrepresented at conferences and in publications, and that CAN provides a possible path to including teachers’ voices within our field. He lists possible challenges with implementing this proposal, from programatic concerns, such as prioritizing the time and getting the whole faculty on board, to teacher candidate’s own attitudes, level of criticality, and comfort sharing their experiences and feelings. However, he thinks this approach can be adjusted or borrowed from to fit different contexts and hopes this idea contributes to the thinking on how TESOL teacher education can more explicitly include issues of teacher identity.

I read this article because I’m working on an autoethnography for a course I’m in and wanted to consider how autoethnographies are positioned within TESOL. His overview of the autoethnographies others have published in our field was quite useful, and I will probably read some of those as well. I definitely see the value in having teacher candidates reflect critically on their experiences and contexts, and I can see autoethnography as a slightly more formal tool that allows pre-service teachers to do that in a systematic, condoned way. I’m also intrigued by the possibility of integrating it program-wide, especially given that there is such a range to types of TESOL teacher preparation programs out there. I can see something like this being integrated relatively easily into a teacher education program that uses a tight cohort model, like the one I graduated from at SIT, because the teachers were very collaborative and cognizant of the connections between courses. In a program where teacher candidates have more leeway and freedom in their choice of courses, I can see there being more challenges integrating a proposal like this. It’s opened my mind up, though, because it’s outside the standard practices in a way I hadn’t considered before. What would it look like if entire programs did foster critical identity development in this way? It’s a pretty exciting idea, once I get over my initial logistical objections (which he acknowledges in the piece). How could these ideas be implemented, even if not exactly in this form? There’s a lot of food for thought here.

Adams, T. E., Holman Jones, S., & Ellis, C. (2015). Autoethnography: Understanding qualitative research. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Yazan, B. (2019). Toward identity‐oriented teacher education: Critical autoethnographic narrative. TESOL Journal, 10(1), 1-15.

Reader Response Journal

Ubuntu Translanguaging: An Alternative Framework for Complex Multilingual Encounters by Leketi Makalela

In this article, Makalela outlines his framework for ubuntu translanguaging, an approach to translanguaging informed by African history, cultural values and linguistic realities. He begins by contrasting Euro-colonial notions of the nation state and linguistic purity with an African approach to multilingualism that blurs the boundaries between languages and reflects the linguistic continuum of many African languages, which he believes have been inappropriately separated into distinct languages according to imported norms. He presents the example of Mapungubwe, a pre-colonial multilingual city state located in the Limpopo valley, as a site of linguistic and cultural confluence, as shown by archaeological artifacts. He argues that it is the European practice of dividing Africa into colonies with boundaries based on colonial language borders that led to Africa’s language struggles, including using poorly-understood colonial languages in education and excluding indigenous African languages from positions of esteem. He argues that translanguaging is the proper framework for thinking about the complex multilingual encounters typical in African settings, and presents his own idea of fuzzy languaging to describe situations involving more than two languages in communicative encounters (in his research he has documented up to six being used in a classroom in the course of a day). In contrast with both additive and subtractive bilingualism, he suggests that translanguaging fits better with the African experience of learning multiple languages before entering school, a situation where numbering the L1, L2, etc. doesn’t make sense. He puts forward the idea of ubuntu translanguaging, which combines the South African idea of Ubuntu (I am because we are; we are because I am, which he abbreviates as “I x we”) with translanguaging in a four part model, based on incompletion (languages are incomplete without other languages), interdependence (interdependent multilingualism means that speakers cannot make full sense of their surroundings without using multiple languages), and both vertical and horizontal flows of information (teacher to student would be vertical, while student to student would be horizontal). In his model, these four pillars are constantly disrupting and recreating language boundaries. He then includes some suggestions for an ubuntu translanguaging pedagogy, meant to normalize the systematic inclusion of multiple languages in creative ways in the classroom. He notes that translanguaging strategies reflect the internal reality of multilingual learners, for whom their languages co-exist, and that they can improve literacy outcomes as well as home-school connections. He ends with a call for us to shift our perspective from the “monolingual multilingualism” perspective inherent in additive/subtractive bilingualism towards ubuntu translanguaging, with its fluid approach to multilingualism, grounded in African cultural competence.

I first read this article last year when I was preparing my keynote on African translanguaging and I revisited it after reading an article on codeswitching in a South African classroom in my class on multilingualism and plurilingualism. Makalela is drawing on the work of Ofelia Garcia, who he references several times throughout the article, but adapting her ideas within a distinctly African worldview. I find the emphasis on named languages as a European invention quite intriguing and am wondering whether other scholars who argue against the validity of named languages have examined the concept within contexts with language continuums, where the boundaries between languages are already much more porous. For example, the languages that my students in Tanzania say they speak don’t reflect the same distinctions that Ethnologue makes for Tanzanian languages. My students see Chagga as one languages (with different varieties) and Ethnologue sees it as several, but the reverse is true for Hacha. It’s therefore much less of a conceptual leap to think of translanguaging as natural, when there’s less of a consensus of what constitutes a language or not in your context. I also want to think more deeply about the ideas of incompletion and interdependence, since those are the aspects that seem most directly tied to ubuntu, and therefore least reflected in the wider literature.

Makalela, L. (2016) Ubuntu translanguaging: An alternative framework for complex multilingual encounters, Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, 34(3), 187-196.

Reader Response Journal

Teaching and Learning in a Multilingual School: Choices, Risks and Dilemmas by Tara Goldstein

Tara Goldstein’s Teaching and Learning in a Multilingual School is the outcome of a four year ethnographic study she conducted in the late 90s at a Toronto high school with a large population of immigrant students from Hong Kong. (At the school just 38% of the the students were L1 English speakers and 35% spoke Cantonese as their L1). Each chapter includes large quotations from the participants themselves, as well as Goldstein’s analysis and suggestions for the pedagogical implications of the themes discussed in the chapter. The first section of the books contains chapters which introduce Northside, the school and the context of the study, explore the ways teachers at Northside chose to enact multilingual or monolingual practices in their classes and their reasons for their decisions, and examine different understandings of the role of student silence in the classroom, particularly in regards to the tensions of working in small groups for multilingual students. The second section focuses on linguistic discrimination, with chapters on resisting linguicism and anti-immigrant discourse, the challenges of giving oral presentations in class, with a focus on the shared burden of communication between non-native speakers and native listeners and how non-native speakers can develop the discourse competence needed to present effectively, and a conclusion on the ways school policies, which explicitly valued multilingualism as an asset at the same time they set English as the schools language of instruction, both challenge and support students’ multilingualism. Most interesting for me was the inclusion of the play Hong Kong, Canada, which Goldstein wrote based on the same ethnographic data, which is included in its entirety in an appendix. Also includes in appendices are Goldstein’s discussion of the decisions she made in her approach to ethnography and presenting her participants voices (including her question whether this story is in fact hers to tell) and the text that one of her research assistants used to teach students oral presentation skills.

All told, there’s quite a lot in this book that was interesting, and it read incredibly quickly and easily, probably since it’s designed as a teacher education textbook rather than a book targeting other academics. It’s based on a lot of scholarly work I’m pretty familiar with, notably Rosina Lippi-Green’s work on linguicism, accent discrimination and the burden of communication, and Bonny Norton’s theories of identity and investment. I thought the in depth descriptions of the context were compelling and it was great to see so much of what her participants had to say in their own voices. I appreciated the fact that she didn’t just end with the analysis of the ethnography and instead took it a step farther to include the pedagogical discussions, since bridging the divide between research and practice is an incredibly important step that I wish more TESOL researchers incorporated deliberately into their work. But by far the most valuable piece of this is the play itself. Ethnodrama is an area that I’m increasingly interested in learning how to do myself, since it so obviously combines my areas of interest, and it’s great to see how research data can be turned into compelling art, which gives us another lens of looking at the material. I used a scene from the play as part of a workshop I did on drama for social justice in TESOL, and it was clear how much there was in her text for actor/teachers to dive into. For that reason alone, I’d recommend reading this.

Goldstein, T. (2003). Teaching and Learning in a Multilingual School: Choices, Risks and Dilemmas. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Reader Response Journal

Get Up and Sing! Get Up and Move! Using Songs and Movement with Young Learners of English by Joan Kang Shin

This English Teaching Forum article provides an accessible overview of the ways that songs and gestures can be combined to teach English to young learners. This is a topic that I care very much about (my first conference presentation was on combining music and movement, although I included older learners as well), and Shin is quite prominent in the area. She’s known for pioneering the International Children’s Song Approach, which uses English versions of songs from around the world, instead of just traditional American and British children’s songs. In this article, she outlines some of the benefits of using music and movement for young learners (a term she doesn’t actually define in the piece), highlighting the innate connections between the two, and the benefits for both child development and language learning. These include the emotional and social benefits of music, the authenticity and culture embedded in the songs, as well as the ways singing enhances memory and comprehension. She also notes that according to Howard Gardner (1993), musical intelligence is the first of the multiple intelligences to emerge, which I had forgotten. After outlining the reasons to use music and movement, she lays out some guidelines for teachers, using very convenient checklists. She discusses types of songs that can be used, including traditional English songs, jazz chants and her own International Children’s Song Approach, and encourages teachers to consider whether the song they want to use is connected to the language they’re teaching, simple and repetitive both musically and linguistically, and easy to choose movements for or dramatize. She provides a step by step outline of how to present songs to children, starting with the topic and the vocabulary, followed by listening to the song and repeating line by line before singing it (starting with the refrain and then the verses). She provides some guidance on choosing gestures or other activities that students could do while singing, using specific examples paired with traditional English songs, like the Itsy Bisty Spider or Head Shoulders Knees and Toes. She also includes the lyrics to three classroom management songs she’s written for familiar tunes. Overall, it’s a very useful and teacher friendly article about both why music and movement have a place in the classroom, and some very specific ideas about how teachers can implement it.

I was really pleased to see this article, since I’ve been aware of Shin’s work for a while, but there hadn’t been an easily accessible journal article version of it for me to cite in my own work before this. While I use songs and movements with students of all ages, not just young ones, Shin’s work meshes with my approach, and there are pieces of the way I teach songs that she influenced (gleaned from earlier, less comprehensive sources, like her you tube videos). While her focus is on young learners, I would argue that many of these approaches can be adapted for older students as well, as I’ve done in my classes. Obviously, the attitude you take to singing in the class is different with 18 years, compared to 8 year olds, but many of the benefits she lists, especially the memory benefits, are absolutely transferable. All in all, an article I would recommend, and not just for teachers of young learners.

Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. 2nd ed. New York: Basic Books.

Shin, J. K. (2017). Get up and sing! Get up and move! Using songs and movement with young learners of English. English Teaching Forum, 55(2), 14-25.

Reader Response Journal

Multimodal Pedagogies for Teacher Education in TESOL by Youngjoo Yi and Tuba Angay-Crowder

In this article, Yi and Angay-Crowder outline many of the challenges to integrating multimodal practices into TESOL teacher education classes. While many teachers recognize the benefits of multimodality, they often feel unprepared to make use of these new approaches in their own teaching. Differentiating between multimodality, “an interdisciplinary, social semiotic approach that understands communication and representation as the integration of multiple modes for meaning making” (p. 990) and multiliteracies, pedagogy that integrates “situated practice, overt instruction, critical framing, and transformed practice” (New London Group, 1996, p. 83), they view the former as the foundation for the latter. Next, they describe two multimodal assignments Yi introduced to her teacher education courses. The first involved her preservice and inservice teachers creating multimodal final presentations for an SLA course, based on the principle that teachers need to be able to use these techniques themselves before they will be able to use them productively with their students. The second required her students to create 5 minute digital stories to use as instructional materials alongside lesson plans they had designed for their students. The challenges in using these types of assignments in teacher education classes were threefold. First, multimodal representations are often seen as less legitimate ways of knowing, especially in academic contexts, where unimodal print-based learning dominates. Second, designing rubrics that accounted for both the teachers’ content knowledge and their multimodal project design was an issue. Finally, there was resistance and skepticism from the teachers themselves. Concerns about their own technical and content skills, lack of resources or time, and the need to prepare students for traditional tests are likely to be factors that influence teachers’ perceptions of multimodal learning. To counter these issues, Yi and Angay-Crowder encourage us to reconceptualize multimodal practices as relevant for all students, not just high or low achievers, and as legitimate as more traditional text-based methods. They also recognize the need to create assessments that match the teaching practices and allow students to represent their achievement multimodally. By reflecting on the widespread multimodality of our everyday literacy practices, and experimenting with multimodality within teacher education classes so that we can directly experience the process of designing and creating multimodal texts, they believe we can address the fundamental issues underlying the underuse of multimodality in TESOL teacher education.

One thing that really stood out to me was their suggestion to teach the metalanguage of multimodal texts, and to allow students opportunities to explain their design choices. When I was in graduate school, a friend of mine did a presentation on how we could be better integrate multimodality into our “teaching the four skills” class, which she encouraged us to reconceptualize as “six skills,” including both receptive and productive multimodal skills alongside reading, writing, speaking and listening. One of the things I remember most from her presentation was the way she demonstrated the meaning inherent in visual choices and how students can be taught to process those choices the same way they would another mode of communication. Perhaps if I was to do something like this with teachers I was training, I would ask for a short reflection alongside the final project, where they could highlight some of their choices. I also think the “teacher first” principle will be a useful one for me to keep in mind going forward, to make sure my teachers are able to use these new communicative modes before they expect their students to, especially in the less-digital contexts in which I work. Although, it is worth noting that multimodality is more than just digital, which was a misperception of mine when I first encountered the term. I’d be interested in ways to more explicitly integrate non-digital multimodality into teacher training as well, particularly movement.

Yi, Y. & Angay-Crowder, T. (2016). Multimodal pedagogies for teacher education in TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 50(4), 988-998.

Reader Response Journal

English for Specific Purposes: Negotiating Needs, Possibilities and Promises by Salas, Mercado, Ouedraogo and Musetti

This article draws on the four authors’ varied experiences teaching English for Specific Purposes,  to provide a basic overview of the types of things instructors need to take into consideration when designing and teaching an ESP course. They stress that there are many different types of ESP, which they see as being on a spectrum, with individually tailored courses that are designed to meet the students’ specific communicative needs in line with their professional objectives on one end, and courses that offer basic communication instruction with a bit of specific vocabulary or thematically chosen readings on the other. In designing ESP courses, they encourage instructors to do research into the exact types of communicative tasks their students will be expected to perform in their professional environments, and to tailor the course to those objectives. The suggest the RAFT framework, to analyze the role, audience, format and topic for these interactions. Identifying these, in the context of the students’ needed language tasks and probable interactions, is the first step to ESP course design. Next, they explore methods of instruction, arguing that ESP teachers should mix and match the methods that best fit their contexts and that these methods should be chosen strategically and purposefully to help their students achieve the identified goals. They stress the importance of having concrete goals and deliverables so that students feel they are making progress. They also encourage teachers to adapt materials and utilize the internet, especially for self-study resources and practice. Next, they explore needs analysis in more depth, encouraging teachers to ensure that they have enough time to proper assess students’ needs before undertaking a course, although they acknowledge that there are often logistical limitations on the amount and depth of needs analysis a teacher can realistically do. They encourage teachers to work in teams and stages to collect and analyze the material they need to design a new course, and they encourage teachers to be upfront with their employers about how long this takes to do well. They also focus on the importance of authentic assessments, in line with the students’ actual professional tasks, and encourage backward planning off of the types of final assessments that show students abilities to communicate realistically in their workplaces. They conclude by encouraging student participation in the needs analysis process and by encouraging teachers to be upfront with their students about the level of individual tailoring and specificity they can expect from the course.

I enjoyed this article as a basic refresher/overview of ESP. I’ve taught ESP in the past, in a context where the expectations of the school were, for the most part, more on the English for Basic Communicative Purposes side of things. Next fall, I’ll be teaching ESP again, and I’m hoping in this new context I’ll be in a better position to carry out a full needs analysis, and to focus on more authentic tasks in my classes. This article served as a good reminder of the type of things to think about when starting out in ESP.

Salas, S., Mercado, L. A., Ouedraogo, L. H. & Musetti, B. (2013). English for specific purposes: Negotiating needs, possibilities and promises. English Teaching Forum, 51(4), 12-19.

Reader Response Journal

Approaching the Grammatical Mass/Count Distinction from a Multimodal Perspective by Derek J. Brown

This is a really interesting short article about how Brown used multimodality to help his Japanese students process the varying ways English groups nouns (and by extension the things they represent) as objects (countable) versus substances (mass/uncountable). Working within a framework of grammar as choice, Brown views the process of determining if a noun is mass or count as a representation of socially constructed understandings of the world, which vary across cultures and languages. Using transmediation, the process of representing meaning across different modes of communication, he helped his students understand the ways mass/count distinctions are constructed in English, and the ways they can vary across situations. For example, depending on the context, the same object can be considered a block of metal, a weight, or simply metal. Factors that influence these distinctions include boundedness (whether the edges/shape are important), internal composition (whether it’s homogenous or not), conceptual integrity and arbitrary divisibility (whether adding or removing more of it changes our perception), perceptual conspicuousness (whether we focus on the similarities or differences within a group) and interaction (what it’s used for). Realizing that his students needed to first understand these different elements of constructing meaning, before they could reliably construct their own assessments of an item’s mass/count-ness, he devised a series of multimodal activities, that, through the process of transmediation, allowed his students to recognize and discuss their underlying conceptions. First, he gave students a list of words and had them draw visual representations of them. The countable nouns, like apple and car, most yielded similar drawings, while mass nouns, like water and coffee, had much greater variability in how they were represented visually. Next, he presented his students with 26 objects, spanning both mass and count nouns, that varied in terms of their size, shape and function, and also crossed boundaries (like including sand, gravel, small stones and rocks). The students used a checklist to classify the relative importance of each item’s boundedness, internal composition, conceptual integrity and function, which helped them sort the objects into countable and uncountable categories. They discussed how Brown would classify the objects as a native English speaker, as well as how the same item could be classified in different ways depending on which features were deemed most important. Lastly, he had his students draw visual representations of different pieces of furniture, and used colored lines to code different features. Then they grouped different items together and used the colored lines to determine whether the grouping was covered by a plural (like chairs), or needed a mass noun (like furniture). This led to the students being able to discuss and examine their conceptualizations. In Brown’s words, “Students had opportunities to see language not as a series of grammatical “equations” that must be memorized and calculated, but as something that can be interacted with, altered, and created.” (p. 606).

This was a really interesting article for me, because I had an entire unit devoted to the mass/count distinction (with food as the topic) with my ninth graders this year, and I definitely realized as I was teaching it how blurry some of the boundaries are (watermelon, for example, can be countable when whole, but becomes a mass noun if it’s cut into cubes). I think using both visual and tactile modalities would really help students understand the underlying thought processes that lead to the nouns being used the ways that they are. I’ve also always been a big fan of multimodality and embodied cognition and seeing how these were realized in actual classroom was useful and inspiring for me. I’m definitely likely to use some of his approaches if/when I teach mass/count nouns next.

Brown, D. J. (2015). Approaching the grammatical mass/count distinction from a multimodal perspective. TESOL Quarterly, 49(3), 601-607.

Reader Response Journal

Empowering Teachers Through Professional Development by Alice Murray

This is a pretty basic, straightforward overview of types of professional development that teachers can engage in. The techniques covered include reflective teaching, keeping a teaching journal, keeping a collaborative journal, analyzing critical incidents, peer mentoring and peer coaching, teacher support groups and teacher support networks involving teachers from multiple schools, local and national teachers’ associations, collaboration between associations, international associations, and workshops and conferences. Murray also notes that reading (or writing) articles is perhaps the simplest form of professional development, but doesn’t elaborate. She uses an example of a teacher in Senegal who maintains a vibrant teaching practice in difficult circumstances because of her commitment to ongoing professional development, to illustrate the impact of these types of practices, and she provides examples from her career for many of the techniques she outlines. She also includes an appendix of advice from the Association of Teachers of English in Senegal on things to consider when starting a teachers’ association.

This is not an article I probably would have read on my own, but as part of the fellowship I’m in here in Ecuador, we have professional learning communities where we meet once a month to discuss teaching. As part of each meeting, we all read an article and use it as a starting point for discussion. As we near the end of our fellowship, one of the other teachers suggested that we read this article and reflect on our professional development throughout our time in Ecuador. The formal professional development components of the fellowship have been the monthly PLC meetings, maintaining a “teacher action plan,” which is an ongoing list of strengths, challenges and goals, and monthly-ish webinars, most of which have been focused on globalization, intercultural communication and international development, rather than teaching and education. We also each complete a fellowship project, which is pretty much whatever we want it to be, to present at our end of service conference. (Mine was a classroom research project on the effect of using multiple intelligence-aligned activities in a unit with my seventh graders.) Reflecting on the PD components of the fellowship has given me a much clearer sense of what works for me and what doesn’t. For example, I’ve been part of two different PLCs during my time here. The first worked much better for me than the second, because it was smaller and much more tightly focused on the month’s theme. We also gave ourselves a time limit for the meeting and separated social time from working time. In contrast, the second group is larger, more social and less focused on the theme, which makes it less effective for me. In addition, I’ve realized that I don’t like the monthly goals of the teacher action plan, so I have also been setting my own goals, using the same format I did during the internship component of my internship. (Murray doesn’t list goal setting as one of her professional development activities in and of itself, but several times throughout the article she mentions the importance of goals in relation to the other strategies.) I’ve been setting longer term goals in the six competency areas of my master’s program and working on them simultaneously, rather than setting one goal per month and not having them overlap. (In case you’re curious, the competency areas I set goals for myself in are 1) language, 2) culture, 3) learners and learning, 4) teachers and teaching, 5) self and others and 6) educational institutions, communities and professional life.) I’ve also found the webinars to not meet my needs, since they are not focused on teaching or education. Instead, I’ve been reading articles independently (and, starting in April, documenting them on this blog), which allows me to target my areas of interest. I’ve also been doing some of Murray’s other suggestions, such as being involved in the TESOL international organization and presenting at conferences. All in all, between this blog, setting and reviewing my six personal goals, conducting my fellowship research project and my writing/editing/presenting work within the field of TESOL, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good ongoing professional development routine worked out for myself.

Murray, A. (2010). Empowering teachers through professional development. English Teaching Forum, 48(1), 2-11.

Reader Response Journal

“I May Be a Native Speaker, But I’m Not Monolingual”: Reimagining All Teachers’ Linguistic Identities in TESOL by Elizabeth M. Ellis

In this article, Ellis explores teachers’ linguistic identities, beyond the NEST/NNEST dichotomy, which she argues simplifies teachers’ experiences of language, since it focuses exclusively on English. In the NEST v. NNEST mindset, NESTs are presumed to be monolingual and NNESTs are presumed to be bilingual, deficient in English and often speakers of the same language of their students and the dominant model of teaching English in English hides teachers’ other language skills. Ellis elicited personal linguistic narratives from 29 English teachers in 7 countries that contradict these constructs. She found that many of the so-called NESTs were in fact multilingual, with varied language learning experiences that sometimes included being able to speak the same language as their students to a high degree of proficiency. In addition, teachers who were perceived as NNESTS not only had broad linguistic repertoires and varied language learning experiences, they also often considered themselves to be native speakers (sometimes with a caveat about their accents). Ellis draws on traditions such as bilingual life-writing (memoirs such as Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation), plurilingualism (a European approach that takes a broader view of linguistic repertoires than multilingualism, by acknowledging various levels of competence, attrition and relearning across the languages an individual knows), and the move towards recognizing the learner’s L1 as both a learning tool and an important aspect of their identity, to establish a place for teacher’s multilingual learning experiences as an important aspect of their teaching and teacher identity. She envisions a world where teachers will regularly be asked “how rich is your linguistic repertoire and how can this be deployed as a pedagogical resource?” instead of whether they are a native or nonnative speaker or which variety of English they speak (606).

For me, this article was particularly relevant, because I am a multilingual native English speaker, and I often feel like the rest of my linguistic repertoire gets erased or is invisible to my students. I’ve been using much more of a plurilingual approach to teaching here in Ecuador, where my classes are of necessity a hybrid of Spanish and English. But it was only last week that one group of my students thought to ask me if I speak anything else (which I do, to varying levels of competence). I really think that for students to see their teachers as language learning role models is really powerful, and I wish more teachers would include their language histories when they introduce themselves to new classes. For example, I don’t know how any of my previous language teachers learned their languages and I don’t know if any of them spoke languages beyond English and what we were learning. I think that standardizing the “what is your linguistic repertoire” question as part of the hiring process would be really beneficial. I remember when I first arrived here how frustrating it was that my principal just saw me as a deficient Spanish speaker, rather than a multicompetent user of many languages. As a native English speaker, my L1 is valued, but this experience gave me a sense of the frustrations that I hear my NNEST friends talk about, where they are defined by what they aren’t, rather than recognized for the skills and abilities they do have. I really hope Ellis’ ways of conceptualizing language repertoires catch on within the field, and that differentiating childhood home languages from current dominant languages and accounting for both circumstantial and elective language learning experience becomes more common. I know that they languages I speak benefit me hugely as a teacher, and I think that these experiences should be valued throughout the field. By doing this, we can move away from valuing nativeness as the most important factor in a teacher’s linguistic identity, and start creating more accurate and less biased ways of talking about teachers’ language backgrounds. This would also open the way for more plurilingual classroom pedagogy and structured reflection on past language learning experiences as part of teacher training programs, which would better serve our students.

Ellis, E. M. (2016.) “I may be a native speaker, but I’m not monolingual”: Reimagining all teachers’ linguistic identities in TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 50(3), 597-630.

Reader Response Journal

English with an Accent: Language, Ideology and Discrimination in the United States by Rosina Lippi-Green

This book is an excellent overview of language discrimination in the United States, with a particular focus on the racial aspects of that discrimination. Lippi-Green begins the book by laying out some linguistic basics, which non-linguists often don’t know about language, namely that 1) all spoken languages change, 2) all spoken languages have equal potential, 3) grammar and communicative effectiveness are separate issues, 4) written and spoken language are fundamentally different and 5) variation is intrinsic to all spoken languages (Kindle locations 771-776). She then examines the ways language changes over time, the fact that everyone has an accent of some sort and how standard language ideology (SLI) is established. She explains that Standard American English (which she refers to as *SAE) is a myth which doesn’t exist in reality, but which nonetheless strongly influences the ways we think about language and leads to the subordination of other languages and varieties and the types of discriminatory practices she outlines in the rest of the book. She presents a model of subordination, where “language is mystified, authority is claimed, misinformation is generated, targeted languages are trivialized, conformers are held up as positive examples, non-conformers are vilified or marginalized, explicit promises are made and threats are made” (Kindle locations 2591-2593). These messages of SLI and subordination are transmitted through the educational system, children’s movies (particularly those by Disney), and the mass media, all of which she describes in detail. She then examines the consequences by providing overviews of court cases focused on language discrimination in employment, which prove how little the courts are invested in preventing or punishing the perpetuation of linguicism. Lippi-Green then explores the specifics of a number of non-standard varieties of English, including Black English, Southern English, Hawaiian Creole, as well as the language of immigrant groups and their descendants, particularly Latinos and Asians. She also includes two case studies, focused on the moral panic surrounding the Oakland Ebonics controversy and linguistic profiling as an aspect of housing discrimination. She ends by reaffirming that “to speak freely in the mother tongue without intimidation, without standing in the shadow of other languages and peoples” is a basic human right, which language subordination tries to deprive people of (Kindle locations 10429-10430), and reasserts that language discrimination in the US is a cover for racial and ethnic discrimination.

This book was mostly useful for providing lots of examples that prove linguicism is real, along with definitions and context for how standard language ideology benefits powerful groups in the US. The chapter on court cases was depressing, but not surprising, because language is not a protected class in US civil rights/anti-discrimination law, so language discrimination cases fall under the national origin umbrella, and are almost never successful. I also really enjoyed the chapter on Hawaiian Creole, which is a topic I briefly encountered during grad school, for a classmate’s language and power presentation on Pidgin English in Hawaii. It’s definitely interesting and something that I’d be curious in learning more about. I’m also curious about the Northern Cities vowel shift, which as a Wisconsinite, I probably have plenty of exposure to. Lippi-Green’s research on Disney and the way they use foreign accents for primarily bad or evil characters was interesting, and is definitely the most famous part of the book, but didn’t seem that compelling to me. Admittedly, I’ve read a bit about Disney’s racially problematic characterizations, which is an area of research that developed extensively after the publication of the first version of the book, so I’m glad that Lippi-Green was one of the first people to delve into the problematic aspects of Disney movies, but I wish the chapter was stronger. Knowing the basic idea is pretty much enough from me, and the details in the chapter didn’t really illuminate it more for me. I felt similarly about the chapter on the Oakland Ebonics controversy, another area I’ve read several different analyses of. She does a good job laying out how it followed the typical path of a moral panic, but I don’t feel like I understand it any better after reading her take. That said, I was definitely glad I read this book, because linguicism matters and this is one of the foundational books in the area.

Lippi-Green, R. (2012). English with an accent: Language, ideology and discrimination in the United States (Second Edition). New York, NY: Routledge.