Current Issue

Note: The following articles are advance online publications. The full issue will be available in print at the end of the academic year. If you would like to be added to or removed from the mailing list, please contact us at wpel@gse.upenn.edu.

Volume 34

Editors-in-Chief: Kristina B. Lewis and Gareth Smail

Embracing Students’ Diverse Communicative Repertoires to Change English as a Second Language Classroom Participation Dynamics (PDF), Patricia Miele

Code Switch at an Alternative High School (PDF), Dean C. Schmeltz


 

Embracing Students’ Diverse Communicative Repertoires to Change English as a Second Language Classroom Participation Dynamics (PDF)

Patricia Miele

Student-initiated interaction is often difficult to achieve in English as a second language classes, despite its value for improving students’ oral communication skills. This problem is exacerbated by English-only rhetoric, common in classrooms around the world, which demands monolingual communication or no communication at all. In contrast, students can be encouraged to draw on their diverse communicative repertoires even in English language classes with mixed first languages (L1s) when those repertoires are seen as assets. In the example analyzed in this article, a Chinese student managed to break her way into a clique of Saudi Arabian students by bringing Chinese humor into the classroom in English. The dramatic shift in participation patterns that followed this interaction demonstrates the powerful effects of encouraging students to draw on all their communicative resources, even without a common L1.

Published online January 10, 2019

 

Code Switch at an Alternative High School (PDF)

Dean C. Schmeltz

A two-year, ethnographic study of the use of the term code switch within an alternative high school community reveals that it has taken on a distinct, institutional meaning. Observed primarily as a reprimand, teachers nonetheless downplayed the significance of the disciplinary term in interviews. However, Black students expressed a sense of being asked to switch between two versions of themselves, only one of which is professional enough to belong in school. Students generally accepted that this was what teachers implied by the term, but some rejected the idea that code switching is a fundamental change, or that the change should only go in one direction at school. These findings indicate that what the school may intend to be a socially progressive term has been taken up in a way that reinforces negative self-perception among students. This paper concludes with suggestions for educators seeking to foster discourse that supports students from marginalized communities, without deferring to respectability politics.

Published online January 10, 2019