Sociolinguistic Perspectives in Education: Episode 25

Positive Pals This episode is all about helping people educate bilingual students. Kayla, Ariana, Darcie, and Dominique will be discussing and reflecting about implications for planning, teaching, and assessing for and with multilingualism, linguistic justice, and multimodality.

Kayla: Hello and welcome back to Positive Pals Podcast, the podcast all about helping people educate bilingual students. I’m your host Kayla and with me are Ariana, Darcie, and Dominique. Today, we will be discussing and reflecting about implications for planning, teaching, and assessing for and with multilingualism, linguistic justice, and multimodality. First let’s talk about how we as teachers can support our multilingual students.

Ariana: All multilingual children are experts in their home language practices and come with a wealth of knowledge that should be respected. Teachers should provide space and time for multilingual children to use all of their languages to think and express themselves.

Darcie: I totally agree. For example, during partner work, teachers should invite children to use their home languages to share what they know. All multilingual learners, whether they’re new to English or completely fluent, will benefit from talking with a partner who speaks the same home language. Thinking and sharing in both of their languages solidifies their learning.

Dominique: In addition, encouraging multilingual learners to make connections between new English terms and words or concepts they already know will support language acquisition. Teachers can invite their students to share their linguistic expertise by sharing how to say a new word in their home language.

Kayla: Incorporating children’s home languages into the classroom is so important in showing support to our multilingual students. Now let’s get into talking about linguistic justice and the different ways in which we can tackle linguistic bias in our classrooms

Ariana: I think asking students about their language backgrounds is the first step in tackling linguistic bias. I think it’s worth asking students questions like “What languages or dialects did you grow up speaking at home? What languages and dialects did you learn in school? Have you ever been mocked or degraded for how you speak or write? Would you like feedback on your grammar?” Teachers should ask all students rather than singling students out.

Darcie: I believe by assessing students based on their knowledge of the subject instead of how they write will help in tackling linguistic bias. Many teachers feel as if they are not doing their jobs if they don’t mark students down for not writing in standard academic English, or they fear that they are misleading students and not preparing them for “the real world.” But when teachers assess standard academic English, they are putting multilingual students at a distinct disadvantage.

Dominique: I think providing students opportunities to write in their own voice will help tackle linguistic bias in the classroom. Teachers should invite students to write in their native language. Students are often made to feel as if their linguistic and dialectical diversity is a disadvantage in an academic space, but speaking multiple languages is a strength.

Kayla: I agree with all of your points. I think it’s time for all teachers to recognize and combat prejudices when it comes to how students speak and write. Let’s now shift our focus to how multimodality can help multilingual students.

Ariana: I think digital multimodalities can support emergent bilingual students’ identity expression. As a bilingual student I completely agree that having access to digital multimodalities such as digital text, film, and e posters rather than just one concrete form of language allows for that child to play around with what they are comfortable with and are able to then express themselves more freel’

Darcie: With expanded opportunities to share ideas through multiple modes, students can use multimodalities to bridge transnational identities, represent themselves, and communicate in empowering ways.

Dominique: The integration of digital multimodal projects can reshape classrooms by challenging language ideologies, transforming the classroom as a locus for social justice, and expanding temporal and spatial boundaries.

Kayla: Multimodal compositions offer emergent bilinguals opportunities to expand their existing linguistic repertoires. Overall, Multilingualism is an asset to be nurtured in our classrooms. By welcoming the whole multilingual child, including their linguistic practices, we send a powerful message that children from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds contribute to the vibrancy of the classroom. This brings us to the end of this episode! Thanks to Ariana, Darcie, and Dominique for discussing and reflecting about implications for planning, teaching, and assessing for and with multilingualism, linguistic justice, and multimodality with me. We hope we were able to bring to light the importance of multilingualism in the classroom. As always, thanks for listening to the Positive Pals Podcast.