Current Issue

Volume 33

Editors-in-Chief: Jennifer Phuong and Katherine I. Kang

Editors' Note (PDF)

SLA in Uncertain Times: Disciplinary Constraints, Transdisciplinary Hopes (PDF), Lourdes Ortega

English-Medium Instruction Policies in South Korean Higher Education (PDF), Katherine I. Kang

Debating Arabic: Governmentality and Language Controversy in Algeria (PDF), Gareth Smail

Narratives of Becoming: Social Personae and School Choice in the Italian Education System (PDF), Andrea R. Leone-Pizzighella

Narrating a Novice Language Teacher Identity: What’s at Stake when Telling Stories of Struggle (PDF), Kristina B. Lewis


 

Editors' Note (PDF)

SLA in Uncertain Times: Disciplinary Constraints, Transdisciplinary Hopes (PDF)

Lourdes Ortega

We live in uncertain times in an uncertain world. While large-scale efforts exist to end poverty, promote peace, share wealth, and protect the planet, we are witnessing serious deterioration of solidarity and respect for human diversity, coupled with alarming tides of authoritarian populism in the West. Many multilinguals—even more so multilinguals in marginalized communities—are vulnerable in the present climate. Researching bi/multilingualism is the business of second language acquisition (SLA) researchers. How well equipped is this field to respond to the present challenges? In this article I unpack four constraints that I believe hamper SLA’s capacity to generate useful knowledge about multilingualism. One is a disciplinary identity that is built around the language two of learners and the late timing of learning. The second constraint is the adherence to an essentialist ontology of language that considers it a system separate from the act of communication. A third constraint is a teleological view of linguistic development benchmarked against an ideal monolingual native speaker model. The fourth and final constraint is the disaffection for ethics, values, power, and ideologies, all of which are considered inappropriate disciplinary content. Tempering such a pessimistic view, some hopeful signs suggest SLA’s research habitus is changing and may soon be better suited to investigate gradient, equitable multilingualism in all its forms. In this spirit of hope, I suggest nine strategies that would help SLA researchers better investigate the human capacity for language and support equitable multilingualism in today’s uncertain world.

 

English-Medium Instruction Policies in South Korean Higher Education (PDF)

Katherine I. Kang

With the rise of globalization and the spread of English, English-medium instruction (EMI) has become a common practice among higher education institutions around the world. In the past two decades, many South Korean universities have also established and implemented institution-wide EMI policies. Using Ricento and Hornberger’s (1996) metaphor of the language planning and policy (LPP) onion as a heuristic, this paper looks at the different LPP layers involved in shaping these institutional EMI policies and describes how the global EMI phenomenon has been taken up in the South Korean national and institutional contexts. Furthermore, this paper elucidates the motivations, beliefs, and attitudes of different LPP actors and how they may overlap or conflict with one another across and within layers. Investigating the multilayered nature of EMI policies reveals how the unilateral and mandatory nature of initial planning, which failed to take into account the varying positions of stakeholders, led to many of the problems associated with EMI.

 

Debating Arabic: Governmentality and Language Controversy in Algeria (PDF)

Gareth Smail

In this paper, I examine how discourses of language and citizenship are intertwined in Algeria. While this issue is typically approached with an eye to how different linguistic groups compete for power within the domain of language policy, I use the framework of governmentality (Foucault, 1991) to show a more complicated picture. Specifically, I argue that political ideologies imply different conceptions of what it means to teach Algeria’s official language of education, Standard Arabic (al-fuṣḥā). While nationalist ideologies envision an Arabic education tied to Islam and/or the Middle East, neoliberal ideologies reject that model and argue for an Arabic education that facilitates creativity, individuality, and success on international measures of learning. I use this framework to analyze multiple perspectives of the social media scandal of Sabah Boudras, the Algerian school teacher who posted a video of herself in her classroom and was criticized by the country’s Minister of Education, Nouria Benghabrit. Through a discourse analysis focused on narrative positioning across events (Wortham & Reyes, 2015), I show that people strategically employ these discourses about Arabic teaching to invoke different configurations of belonging to and exclusion from the Algerian national community.

 

Narratives of Becoming: Social Personae and School Choice in the Italian Education System (PDF)

Andrea R. Leone-Pizzighella

Over a ten-month period of linguistic ethnographic research in three secondary schools in central Italy, I conducted interviews with third-year students about how they came to choose the school they currently attend. Students told of chance encounters, moments of madness, institutional pressures, and social expectations, often hinting at tumultuous narratives. Since the three secondary school types in this research—lyceums, technical schools, and vocational schools—are popularly believed to attract specific types of students, interviews and everyday metacommentary (Rymes, 2014) about the schools and the people inside them hold great social importance. In this paper, I consider how the school choice decisions of these students—as told to me in the form of short narratives occurring in interview contexts—intersect with local ideologies and figures of personhood (Agha, 2011) associated with each school.

 

Narrating a Novice Language Teacher Identity: What’s at Stake when Telling Stories of Struggle (PDF)

Kristina B. Lewis

Within language teacher education (LTE), telling stories about their teaching allows novice teachers to make sense of their experiences, explore problems and pedagogical strategies, and develop coherent identities as skilled language teachers. The stakes are high, though, when we ask—or require—novice teachers to talk about moments of challenge, or even failure, in front of their peers and evaluators. In this paper, I examine two stories told by one novice teacher—about the same teaching event, but framing this first as a success and then as a challenge—within an LTE course discussion to demonstrate how she works to position herself as a competent teacher even as her unfolding narrative seems to threaten this identity. By analyzing not only the content of her stories, but also the context and enactment of their telling—and by highlighting the LTE course instructor’s role as a co-narrator—I argue for the importance of understanding and supporting the complex work novice teachers engage in when they narrate their practice, particularly when focusing on moments of struggle.