From the 1960s to the early 21st century, different terms have arisen in diverse research traditions and educational contexts where teachers and researchers are interested in exploring and researching ways of helping learners to learn both language and content at the same time. These terms include content-based instruction (CBI), immersion, sheltered instruction, language across the curriculum (LAC), writing across the curriculum (WAC), and content and language integrated learning (CLIL). Common to all these traditions, however, is the monoglossic and monolingual assumption about academic language and literacy. The dynamic process turn in applied linguistics has changed our view of the nature of language, languaging, and language learning processes. These new theoretical insights led to a transformation of research on LAC toward research on academic languages and literacies in the disciplines. A paradigm shift from monoglossic to heteroglossic assumptions is also particularly important in English-as-an-additional-language (EAL) contexts.
Academic Languages and Literacies in Content-Based Education in English-as-an-Additional-Language Contexts
Angel M. Y. Lin
Donna E. Alvermann and William Terrell Wright
Naming is a curious practice. It entails rudiments, now mostly taken for granted, that serve to categorize everyday literacy practices across fields as diverse as cultural anthropology and the management of multiple Git profiles. As a term unto itself, adolescent literacies is not immune to the vagaries of naming. In fact, it serves as an excellent example of how commonly named concepts in education embed the field’s histories, debates, pedagogies, and policies writ large. Conceptualizing literacy in its plural form raised eyebrows among academics, researchers, practitioners, publishers, and indexers concerned with the noun–verb agreement in phrases such as “adolescent literacies is a subfield” of adolescence. For some, the very notion of literacy extending beyond reading and writing is still debatable. With each passing day, however, it becomes noticeably more evident that multimodal forms of communication—images, sounds, bodily performances, to name but a few ways of expressing oneself—are competing quite well in the marketplace of ideas that flow globally with or without a linguistic component attached to them. Aside from the naming process and its attendant political overtones, the practice of treating youth between roughly the ages of 12 and 17 as a monolithic group has been common in the United States. Largely traceable to a time in which developmental psychology dominated the field of literacy instruction (in the early to late 20th century), designating youth as adolescents equated to viewing them as some a normative group devoid of racial, class, gender, and any number of other identity markers. Even with the sociocultural turn in early 21st century and its abundance of studies reifying the socially constructed nature of adolescents, the term persists. Its adhesive-like attraction to literacies, however, may be weakening in light of research that points to youth who are agentic and dynamic game changers when it comes to participating in a world grown more attuned to the need for collaboration based not on hierarchical standing but instead on working through commonplace tensions too complex for any one solution.
Applied Linguistics and Education
Margaret Kettle and Susy Macqueen
Language is fundamental to teaching and learning, yet is prone to invisibility in education systems. Drawing on work from applied linguistics that foregrounds language use in education, a “power” heuristic can be used to highlight linguistic privilege and its implications for students and their individual language repertoires. Language can be understood as a tool for performing particular interpersonal and ideational functions; its structure and uses are determined by context. For most students, experiences of language that is education-related reside in three core domains: the home and community, the school, and the nation state. Language expectations in these domains vary and position the linguistic repertoires of students differently. A key consideration is the student’s first language and its relationship to the expectations and privileged varieties of different institutions, for example, the local school and the national education department. By foregrounding linguistic privilege in education, the alignment, or misalignment, between students’ language resources and the prevailing language norms of educational institutions is made visible and open to change. Inherent in the level of alignment are issues of educational inclusion, access to powerful language forms and genres, and academic achievement. The concept of power affordances can be used to refer to the enabling potential of the relationship between language status, language affiliation and a student’s linguistic repertoire. Power affordances can operate as three broad potentials, capabilities or statuses: socioeconomic power, which resides in the language of global and state institutions ranging from government to schools and manifests in instruments such as national standardized tests; sociocognitive power, which enables the capacity to learn and recognizes the language intensity of knowledge; and identity power, which references social belonging and is strongly indexed to language. Conceptualizing language and its power affordances in education provides a useful framework for understanding the relationship between students’ language resources and the often implicit linguistic demands and practices of education systems. It also highlights the rich potential of applied linguistics in understanding education.
Arts Education Research
Benjamin Jörissen, Leopold Klepacki, and Ernst Wagner
Research in arts education is characterized by a tension between presupposed theoretical concepts about “arts” and “education,” on the one hand, and the global field of untheorized arts education practices, on the other hand. This complexity is greatly magnified by the various historical and cultural understandings that characterize both the institutionalization of the arts as well as arts education itself. The fact that research traditions are themselves closely connected to a particular field of arts education adds an additional dimension to this complex question: according to our meta-studies relating to arts education-research, it is particularly evident that (1) Western and Eurocentric biases are quite dominant in this research field and that (2) well-established (Western, highbrow) art genres are dominating the research landscape, tying specific research styles, research interests, and objectives toghether. To avoid normative and potentially hegemonial biases resulting from this situation, we analyze various arts education research approaches according to their the ontological, epistemological, and methodological anchorings. Based upon this, we develop a general meta-model of arts education research, combining a typology of perspectives defining arts education research and a set of dispositive dichotomies constitutive for this field.
Asia Literacy in Australian Schools and the Move Toward Broader Intercultural Understanding
Emily S. Rudling
Asia literacy is an Australian education policy goal intended to educate Australian school students about Asian languages, cultures, and economies and, in turn, deepen Australian engagement with the Asian region. First defined in 1988, the concept has since been adapted by a suite of Asia education policies with more than 60 relevant policy documents having been published since the 1950s. However, despite being a cornerstone education policy, political vagaries have prevented the widespread and sustained implementation of Asia literacy education in schools. Tied to the broader goal of engaging with Asia, Asia literacy is in conflict with a sense of an Australian national identity and entangled with Australian economic, education, and foreign policies. A thematic review of the extant policy data and scholarly literature reveals several flaws in Asia literacy policy. Namely, it is underpinned by several assumptions: Asia literacy is learned in formal education; Asia is a knowable entity; proficiency in languages, cultures, and economies equates to Asia literacy; and Asia literacy is assumed to resolve national disengagement from Asia. This approach fails to account for everyday Asia literacy enlivened in the multicultural and multilingual Australian society. Scholars have argued that this “others” Asia from everyday Australian life. The implications of this model of Asia literacy play out in the classroom with few teachers reporting confidence in teaching Asia literacy content, and enrollments in Asia-related subjects being perpetually low. Newer policy imperatives which stipulate the teaching and learning of intercultural competencies may help to dissolve the construct of the Asian other and enliven Asia literacy in the classroom beyond knowledge of languages and cultures. If pursued, this can foster dynamic knowledge of Asia in Australian schools, bringing Asia closer to the everyday and enhancing engagement with the Asian region.
Asian Americans and Education
The communities that constitute the racialized category of Asian Americans consist of approximately 20 million people in the United States, or about 5% of the total population. About 20% or 4 million are of primary or secondary school age, and over 1.1 million are in higher education. Both in popular and academic discourse, “Asian American” generally refers to people who have ethnic backgrounds in South Asia (e.g., Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka), Southeast Asia (e.g., Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam), and East Asia (e.g., China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan). As “Asian American” is an umbrella term used to categorize a very diverse, heterogeneous, and transnational set of populations, Asian Americans as a group present various challenges to education and research in and about the United States. These challenges can concern paradigms of achievement, citizenship, family involvement, access (e.g., higher education, bilingual education), language and culture, race and ethnicity, and school community. In order to address these paradigmatic challenges, a great deal of scholarship has called for a disaggregation of the data on populations that fall under the pan-ethnic “Asian America” umbrella term, to gain a more nuanced and dynamic understanding of the many diverse populations and their historical, cultural, economic, and political experiences. To further address the problematic framing of Asian Americans in education and related fields, scholars have applied critical lenses to key tensions within conceptualization, policy, curriculum, and pedagogy. More recently, the notions of intersectionality and transnationalism have been generative in the study of Asian Americans, within not only educational research but also Asian American studies, which generally falls under the field of ethnic studies in the U.S. context, but has also been categorized under American studies, cultural studies, or Asian studies. While characterizations of Asian Americans as “the Model Minority” or “the Oppressed Minority” persist, the relevance of such static binaries has increasingly been challenged as the Asian American populations and migrations continue to diversify and increase.
Bilingualism broadly defined is the ability to communicate in two languages, often denoted as L1 and L2. “L1” is generally applied to a person’s native language, which is the language they acquired from birth, and “L2” refers to the target language that is learned and/or acquired in school and society. Communication includes traditional school-based literacy functions like reading, writing, speaking, and comprehension (i.e., biliteracy), as well as broader meaning-making practices including nonverbal and informal literacy practices. Bilingual education is the formal teaching and learning of two languages for academic functions, purposes, and discourses. It generally consists of a primary national and/or global language as well as a secondary language associated with a student’s heritage, national origin, or ethnic minority status within a more dominant linguistic and cultural context. Depending on the program model and a nation’s language ideology vis-à-vis nondominant linguistic and cultural practices, varying amounts of each language are utilized for instructional purposes within formal educational contexts. Bilingual education models vary from weak forms that are transitional and assimilationist to strong forms that are egalitarian and empowering of nondominant languages. Bilingual education around the world is marked by controversies rooted in the dominance of the nation-state and its language and culture vis-à-vis a minority group. Bilingual education across the globe is informed by the pervasive beliefs and attitudes about the nature, function, and purpose of language(s), issues of status and solidarity with nondominant language communities, and perceived benefits and/or potential harms of bilingualism.
Bilingual Effects on Cognition in Children
Since the mid-20th century, there have been dramatic changes in our conception of how bilingualism affects children’s cognitive development, moving from one of certain negativity, to unlimited advantage, and finally resting in a current state defined largely by confusion because of the complexity in how bilingualism is defined. However, the question has great consequences, so it is important to evaluate the evidence to understand the impact. Such information determines how families make decisions about their home language, particularly regarding the maintenance of heritage languages; how schools offer programs based on alternative languages; how clinicians assess children for learning or other special needs; and how communities offer services to diverse members. By defining the concepts more precisely than has typically been the case, the complexity of the relation between bilingualism and cognition becomes clear. The evidence shows that bilingualism impacts cognitive level and brain function across the lifespan, but the nature and extent of those effects are modified by the type and degree of bilingualism and the nature of the task. Understanding the conditions under which various effects emerge is essential for interpreting the effects of bilingualism on children’s cognitive development and their potential role in education.
Bilingualism and Biliteracy
Penelope Collins and Tien Thuy Ho
Internationally, there has been growing commitment to bilingual education among policymakers, educators, and researchers. Bilingualism and biliteracy are not uncommon, as more than half the world’s population speaks and learns to read more than one language. Growing globalization in commerce and immigration have motivated countries across the globe to adopt policies promoting bilingual education. Bilingual education reflects any curriculum that strategically uses two or more languages in instruction. These programs reflect one of two primary goals: supporting language-minority students in the acquisition of language, literacy skills, and academic content in the dominant language of the community; or enabling students to develop language, literacy, and academic skills in an additional language. Although most programs serving language-minority students are subtractive in nature, using the home language to serve language and academic achievement in the majority language, dual-language immersion programs are growing in popularity. Dual-language immersion programs and immersion programs serving language-majority students reflect additive approaches to bilingual education, and their students have been found to perform as well as or better than their monolingual peers. Becoming biliterate requires students to develop skill in engaging with and making sense of texts in two languages that vary both orally and in their writing systems. Developing word-level and text-level skills in two languages involves a common set of cognitive processes that may transfer across languages. Instructional practices promoting language, literacy, and academic achievement in both languages include high-quality literacy instruction, translanguaging within classrooms, content-based instruction, and fostering responsive classroom climates that value linguistically diverse students and their home cultures.
Biliteracy Development in a Dynamic and Changing World
In many communities around the world, speakers learn and speak more than one or two languages, so multilingualism and multiliteracy are habits and ways to communicate. In fact, it is well documented now that bilingualism and multilingualism are wider practices than any kind of monolingualism that might exist and that might be predominant in a particular country. Consequently, the world is becoming increasingly aware of the value of multiculturalism as part of a knowledgeable society. Studies in both schools and communities continuously support the theory that bilinguals learning two languages simultaneously have the potential to develop literacy in two languages when this is supported in their environment and when given access to opportunities to read and write within relevant biliteracy experiences. These opportunities are provided when linguistic and cultural resources are part of day-to-day interactions, and emergent bilinguals, who develop two languages from a young age, take part in them.
Children’s Literature in Education
Children’s literature is a dynamic entity in its own right that offers its readers many avenues for pleasure, reflection, and emotional engagement. As this article argues, its place in education was established centuries ago, but this association continues today in ways that are both similar and different from its beginnings. The irony of children’s literature is that, while it is ostensibly for children, it relies on adults for its existence. This reciprocal relationship between adult and child is, however, at the heart of education. Drawing on a range of scholars and children’s texts from Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, this discussion canvasses some of the many ways in which children’s literature, and the research that it inspires, can be a productive and valuable asset to education, in that its imaginative storytelling is the means by which it brings the world into the classroom and takes the classroom out into the world.
Classification Process of Languages in Schools
Advances in different disciplinary traditions suggest that the classification of languages into standard and non-standard, official and popular, and school and home languages has more to do with power relations than factors intrinsic to language as such. Such classifications, in school space and beyond, articulate hierarchical relations constituted through interaction of class, race, and ethnicity in specific historic context. An examination of the process of classification of languages gives us important insights into the interrelation between social and learner identity of students in school and about discourses of power in general. Scholars from a political economic perspective have argued how identification and hierarchical positioning of languages as high and low status in school context contribute to the process of social reproduction of class based inequality through education. In recent years the reproduction framework has been challenged for being too rigidly framed on the grids of class while ignoring the gendered and ethnic identity of students that might influence and constitute the language practice of students. The approaches that view language use in school as an act of identity production have generated a number of interesting insights in this field, but these have also been subjected to criticism because of their tendency to essentialize social identities. Many of these have also been questioned for directly or indirectly employing a cultural deficit theory on the basis of class, race, or ethnicity. Such concerns necessitate a shift of focus toward examination of the process through which the very category of standard languages, considered appropriate for schooling, emerges. In this respect the work of Pierre Bourdieu is significant in highlighting the political economic context of how certain languages come to acquire higher value than the others. Another perspective emerges from critical studies of colonial encounters that relied on classification of languages as one of the techniques of modern governance. Investigations of such colonial pasts explicate how linguistic groups are imagined, identified, and classified in a society. Postcolonial scholars have argued that such colonial classificatory techniques continue to influence much of social science research today. Methods of research, particularly in the field of education, have been affected by these process to such an extent that our attempts at recovery of non-standard, multilingual speech forms are affected by the very process of investigation. Consequently, studying languages in the school context becomes a more complicated exercise as one is trapped in the very categories which one seeks to open up for investigation. The decolonization of school space, therefore, calls for a fresh methodological approach to undertake study of languages in the school context.
P. Karen Murphy, Carla M. Firetto, Gwendolyn M. Lloyd, Liwei Wei, and Sara E. Baszczewski
Classroom discussions are a common pedagogical approach that involve verbal exchanges of information between teachers and students. Given their importance to teaching and learning, classroom discussions have been the focus of extensive curricular mandates and, to a lesser extent, research over the last several decades. In traditional classroom discussions, the teacher tends to be situated at the center of the discussion. This type of discussion model is commonly referred to as a transmissionary model, where the teacher transmits knowledge and understandings and often leads the discussion by posing factual questions and responding to students’ answers by giving evaluative feedback. However, productive classroom discussions are better characterized by a dialogic model with students at the center of the discussion. When students are encouraged to ask thoughtful questions, give reflective responses, and challenge each other using reasoned arguments within classroom discussions, they are more likely to become builders and owners of their knowledge. Indeed, productive classroom discussions tend to ignite students’ engagement, thinking, and understanding of knowledge across academic content areas. When adopting a dialogic model, classroom discussions can advance students’ learning by promoting their basic and high-level comprehension of literary text, reasoning, and argumentation during mathematical sense-making, scientific reasoning, and model building and even second-language proficiency and communicative competence. While the overarching aim of classroom discussions is to enhance student learning across content areas (e.g., language arts, mathematics, science, or second-language learning), the various roles that teachers assume in each of the content areas may have different emphases that align with various content learning expectations. Optimizing classroom discussions requires specific considerations of the content-focused goal, teacher knowledge of content and discourse orchestration, student instruction on classroom talk, and context of content learning. Importantly, the potential and promise of productive classroom discussions can be realized by supporting teachers’ content-specific discussion practices through sustained professional development and by supporting students through explicit instruction about discussion.
Creative Writers as Arts Educators
Teresa Cremin and Debra Myhill
In the field of writing in education two strong, even common-sense, views exist, drawing largely on everyday logic rather than evidenced justification: first, that to teach writing effectively teachers must be writers themselves and second, that professional writers, those who are writers themselves, have a valuable role to play in supporting young writers. But rarely have these views been brought together to explore what teachers can learn about being a writer from those who are writers. Nor are these perspectives unquestioned. The positioning of teachers as writers within and beyond the classroom has been the subject of intense academic and practitioner debate for decades. For years professional writers have visited schools to talk about their work and have run workshops and led residencies. However relatively few peer-reviewed studies exist into the value of their engagement in education, and those that do, in a manner similar to the studies examining teachers as writers, tend to rely upon self-reports without observational evidence to triangulate the perspectives offered. Furthermore, the evidence base with regard to the impact on student outcomes of teachers’ positioning themselves as writers in the classroom is scant. Nor is there a body of evidence documenting the impact of professional writers on student outcomes.Historically, these two foci - teachers as writers and professional writers in education - have been researched separately; in this article we draw them together. Predominantly professional writers in education work directly with students as visiting artists, and have been positioned and positioned themselves as offering enrichment opportunities to students. They have not therefore been able to make a sustained impact on the teaching of writing. Moreover, while writers’ published texts are read, studied, and analyzed in school (as examples for young people to emulate), their compositional processes receive little attention, and the craft knowledge on which writers draw is rarely foregrounded. In addition, writing is often viewed as the most marginalized creative art, in part due to its inclusion within English, which itself has been sidelined in the arts debate. Notwithstanding these challenges, research and development studies have begun to create new opportunities for collaboration, with teachers and professional writers sharing their expertise as pedagogues and as writers in order to support students’ development as creative writers. In such work the challenges, constraints, and consequences of students and teachers identifying themselves as writers in school has been evidenced. In addition, research has sought to document the practices of professional writers, analyzing for example their reading histories, composing practices, and craft knowledge in order to feedforward new insights into classroom practice. It is thus gradually becoming recognized that professional writers’ knowledge and understanding of the art and craft of writing deserves increased practitioner attention for their educative possibilities; they have the potential to support teachers’ understanding of being a writer and of how they teach writing. This in turn may impact upon students’ own identities as writers, their understanding of what it means to be a writer, and their attitudes to and outcomes in writing.
Critical Discourse Analysis and Information and Communication Technology in Education
Critical discourse analysis (CDA) is a cross-disciplinary methodological and theoretical approach. At its core CDA explores the intersections between discourse, critique, power, and ideology which hold particular values for those teaching in developing contexts. CDA has emerged as a valuable methodological approach in cultural and media studies and has increased in prominence since the 2010s in education research where it is drawn on to explore educational policy, literacy education, and identity. This research has intersected with the field of information systems which has explored the dominant discourses and discursive practice of how information and communication technologies (ICTs) are viewed in policy and the contradictions between rhetoric and reality. It has also been drawn on in research in developing contexts to critique the role of ICTs in education. A brief historical background to CDA and overview of the key components of the approach will be provided. How CDA has been drawn on in educational studies will be examined and research on CDA will be highlighted to explore discursive practices of students and the influence of students’ digital identities on their engagement with and experience of online learning. By focusing on four key constructs of CDA—namely meaning, context, identity, and power—the potential of CDA to critically investigate how students’ are constructing their technological identity in an increasingly digital world will be demonstrated, particularly as examples of research emanating from developing contexts will be drawn.
Critical ESL Education in Canada
Sunny Man Chu Lau
Critical approaches to English as a second language (ESL) education in Canada broadly fall under two intersecting orientations—inclusivity-focused and issue-focused. Inclusivity-focused education refers to critical approaches to ESL that valorize minoritized and/or Indigenous students’ voices, languages, and other semiotic resources in learning (in) English. This inclusive orientation aims to challenge systemic marginalization of multicultural voices and identities, destabilize static notions of languages and other modes of communication, and importantly, decolonize inequitable power structures inherent in academic and broader social setting. An issue-focused approach adopts an explicit critical agenda, using eco-social issues as the foci of curricular content to engage students in critical interrogation of social assumptions and participation in related class-based action research to simultaneously learn the language and enact change in broader communities. Recent trends in critical issue-focused inquiries also draw on posthumanist, socio-materialist, and Indigenous perspectives to offer more complex, interconnected, and distributed views of language learning and social change. These perspectives not only urge for alternative ways (cognitive, bodily, multi-sensory, affective, and spatial) of critical engagement but also a more human decentering perspective to understand the ethical interdependence of the human/non-human world.
Critical Literacy: A Case from Argentina and Its Implications
Melina Porto and Graham V. Crookes
Second-language critical literacy refers to the application of the concepts and practices of critical literacy in contexts where individuals are using a language that is not the one they grew up with or were initially socialized into. “Second” means a language acquired either naturalistically or in instructed contexts that is somewhat distinct, at least conceptually, from a primary or so-called native language—learned in some sense earlier or better than a primary one (although these terms are at best simplifications of complex matters). Critical literacy is generally recognized as having evolved out of a line of work in the broad and comparatively long tradition of radical education associated with Paulo Freire. However, as different strands of critical literacy have become more developed, more established, and more visible, it is harder to determine lines of influence. It was not until the beginning of the 21st century that critical language pedagogy and critical literacy began to appear in reports from a range of countries. In Latin America, critical perspectives and pedagogies have a history of 200 years, existed before the Spanish conquest, and are not tied to Freire in particular, but result from a combination of social, cultural, political, and educational influences emerging in the region in the 19th century. These perspectives and pedagogies are multifaceted, polysemic, locally situated, and tied to each specific territory. This means that it is important to consider broad historical perspectives and to recognize the powerful macro-level factors that can eventually culminate in somewhat favorable conditions for critical literacy in specific contexts at the present time. Those conditions may not last, incidentally. Finally, to answer the question “How can practical instructional programs in the area of second language critical literacy be designed, developed, and implemented?” it seems that critical re-design can be a useful approach in the classroom. Critical re-design refers to the process, somewhat analogous to Freire’s emphasis on gaining distance from a problem, by which students analyze an issue so as to be able to act on it “to make a positive difference” in their social milieu. It is through detailed analysis of the issue and its connection to students’ lives, and the use of imagination, that the possibility of making a difference becomes actual.
Critical Literacy for English Language Learners
As more linguistically diverse students populate classrooms around the world including the United States, providing them with equitable and rigorous learning experiences through critical literacy has become a pressing issue in the field of education. By focusing on basic language and literacy skills, English language learners (ELLs) have rarely been exposed to critical literacy, a force to empower them as active learners. One of the major reasons is based on the misconception that ELLs, who are learning English, might not have the ability to critique and analyze texts, issues, and realities. More recent empirical studies challenge this misconception by showing the possibilities of ELLs’ engagement in critical literacy practices. The specific frameworks developed by language and literacy scholars have contributed to making critical literacy theory a more applicable and approachable practice. Despite the possibilities shown from recent research in classroom contexts, challenges also exist from both micro- and macrolevels. Challenges include the absence of fundamental critical literacy tenets from the school curriculum and policy, the absence of required critical literacy coursework from many pre- and in-service teacher education programs, and educator discomfort, rooted in misconceptions and false assumptions, with the implementation of critical literacy strategies in their classrooms. Both challenges and possibilities provide directions to the field of critical language and literacy education for future research and practice as ways to address affording equitable access for increasingly diverse ELLs.
Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in School Reform
Martin Scanlan, Francesca López, Maria Baez-Cruz, and Tsuru Bailey-Jones
The United States has a rich history of migration, from involuntary immigration resulting from the slave trade to the waves of immigrants who sought a new life on its shores. Partly due to the legislative changes in immigration policy in the last quarter of the 20th century, the cultural and linguistic diversity of the immigrant population has made the country more diverse. These demographic shifts affect schools across sectors in the United States—public and private, secular and religious—and across all geographical settings from urban to suburban to rural. Different immigrant groups have faced prejudice and marginalization, which have cemented cycles of socioeconomic disadvantage and persistent barriers to integration. Immigrant students tend to be disproportionately distributed across schools and are highly concentrated in schools with large numbers of students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. In tandem, educational policy prioritizes social efficiency (moving immigrant students into the workforce) instead of social mobility (advancing to higher education). The growing knowledge base that is centered on effective approaches to providing equitable opportunities to learn has identified three axes for action: (a) promoting students’ sociocultural integration, (b) cultivating their language proficiency, and (c) supporting their academic achievement. School reforms supporting these axes include the promotion of bilingual education, integration of immigrant students into schools, and advancement of authentic partnerships with families and communities.
Dell Hymes and Language Education
The work of Dell Hymes has been highly influential in language education and the field of linguistics more generally. Questions about the appropriateness of engaging with his work have been raised following allegations of sexual harassment during his tenure at the University of Pennsylvania. However, the radical nature of his work and its role in demonstrating that language was co-constitutive of the social, historical, and political contexts of its speakers requires engagement, particularly given the challenges facing language education in the early 21st century. Hymes’ identification of the communicative event as fundamental to an understanding of language has been instrumental in the development of an influential collection of approaches now collectively referred to as communicative language teaching (CLT). Hymes’ sociologically informed concept of communicative competence, developed in reaction to Chomsky’s notions of linguistic competence and performance, has also been highly influential in language education research and practice. Subsequently, concerns have been raised about the recontextualization of Hymes’ work and the disconnect between idealized notions of communicative competence as they appear in contexts of language education and the actual language use in speech communities. From a conceptual standpoint, re-engagement with Hymes’ work is needed to reorient CLT and corresponding notions of communicative competence to their sociological bases. Hymes understood the speech community as the context par excellence for describing language, and therefore it should also inform the orientation of language education to communication. This can be achieved by allowing ethnographic work to play a larger role in contexts of language education. Advances in digital communications technology offer many such opportunities, removing proximal requirements for observing and interacting with target speech communities and providing access to digital artifacts produced by the community. As language education faces challenges driven by rapidly changing political, sociological, and technological circumstances, Hymes’ insights about the inherent inequality of language and its relationship with the political and social dimensions of speech communities remain highly relevant. Re-engaging with a Hymesian understanding of communicative competence means recognizing the contextually dependent bases for judgments about language and the variation that exists between individuals even within the same speech community. Hymes saw that the path to a more aware, more just society ran through this understanding of communicative competence, and so language education must look to this understanding if it seeks to transform the role that language plays in our social and political lives.