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A Brief History

The first issue of the Working Papers in Educational Linguistics (WPEL) appeared in Spring 1984, published by the Language in Education Division (LED) of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (PennGSE), with a foreword by then-Dean Dell Hymes. Then, as now, WPEL was entirely student-run, although PennGSE Educational Linguistics faculty gave the initial impetus and have continuously served in an advisory capacity from that day to this.

That first issue was edited by Cathy Doughty (now at University of Maryland), with Professor Thom Huebner (now at San Jose State University) serving as primary faculty adviser. After a year's hiatus, the second issue appeared in spring 1986 and since then, WPEL has appeared regularly once or twice a year without interruption. Over the years, constellations of graduate student editorial teams have worked under the leadership of their peer editors-in-chief. The complete roster of editors-in-chief appears below.

The early issues already bore the hallmark characteristic, which continues to the present, of including papers by faculty and graduate students, both Ph.D. and master’s, primarily those associated with Educational Linguistics at PennGSE. Papers by students are very often revised versions of research papers submitted for advanced graduate courses and recommended by the professor for inclusion in WPEL. Papers are also solicited more widely; all potential contributions are read and evaluated by the student editorial board.

Papers by faculty include early versions of talks or papers later published in refereed journals or book collections, as well as talks by invited colloquium speakers and visiting scholars, e.g. Clifford Hill (1987), Rodolfo Cerrón-Palomino (1992), Oleg Tarnopolsky (2000), Jinwei Dong (2006), and Martin Njoroge (2008). After the Nessa Wolfson Colloquium (NWC) series was inaugurated in 1991, NWC colloquium papers have often been published in WPEL, e.g. Hymes (1992), Fishman (1993), Olshtain (1994), Cohen (1995), Chick (2001), and Spolsky (2007). In addition to papers by all of the Educational Linguistics faculty members past and present – Nessa Wolfson, Teresa Pica, Nancy Hornberger, Rebecca Freeman, Anne Pomerantz, Yuko Butler, Kathy Howard, and Betsy Rymes --there have also been papers by GSE colleagues such as Linda Brodkey (1986), Fred Erickson (1988), Brian Street (2008), Stanton Wortham (2001), and others.

The first Language Policy and Planning special issue appeared in 2007 and two more have appeared since then, in 2009 and 2011. These issues represent innovations on WPEL’s usual content and editorial process in two ways: one, that they emerge from a particular course, having been developed and written in Nancy Hornberger’s Research Seminar in Language Planning and Policy in Education, and thus are thematically united; and two, that in addition to WPEL’s usual student peer review process, they undergo external review, thanks to the generosity of our national and international colleagues in the field. 2012 marks the appearance of a variation on the course-based thematic issue (without the external review component), with our special issue on Mass Media and Schooling, originating from Betsy Rymes’ class of the same name.

With Volume 11 in Spring 1995, WPEL inaugurated a new journal-size format, rather than the spiral-bound 8 1/2 x 11 workbook-style format of the earlier years. About the same time, the best known and most widely used abstracting service in the language learning and teaching field, Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA), began to abstract WPEL in their database, providing scholars worldwide with information about the publications to be found within its pages. WPEL had in fact already been disseminated widely from its beginnings, sent out to colleagues and university departments nationally and internationally, often in exchange for their working papers series. As of the early 2000s, WPEL editors designed and developed a website, gradually also adding a PDF archive of all past issues. We look forward to continuing vitality and innovation in WPEL by our ever-resourceful Educational Linguistics student editors in the years to come.

~Nancy H. Hornberger

WPEL Faculty Advisor 1998-2020


WPEL Editors-in-Chief

Jay J. Lee and Karla M. Venegas, 2019-20

Kristina B. Lewis and Gareth Smail, 2018-19

Jennifer Phuong and Katherine I. Kang, 2017-18

David H. Hanks and Aldo Anzures Tapia, 2016-17

Andrea R. Leone-Pizzighella and Mark C. Lewis, 2015-16 

Frances Kvietok Dueñas and Yeting Liu, Spring 2015

Geeta Aneja, Fall 2014

Geeta Aneja, Siwon Lee, and Miranda Weinberg, Spring 2014

Sofía Chaparro, Siwon Lee, and Miranda Weinberg, Fall 2013

Catrice Barrett and Joanna Siegel, 2012-13

Mariam Durrani and Haley De Korne, 2011-12

Holly Link, Hoa Nguyen, Krystal Smalls, 2010-11

Kathy Lee and Jamie Schissel, 2009-10

Sarah Lipinoga and Ming-Hsuan Wu, 2008-09

Chris Allen Thomas and Xiaolin Peng, 2007-08

Julia Deák and Cynthia Groff, 2006-07

Tamara Warhol and Katherine Mortimer, 2005-06

Erin Kearney and Shannon Sauro, 2004-05

David Cassels Johnson and Francis M. Hult, 2003

Kimberly Daniel-White, 2000-02

Diana Schwinge, 2000

Bruce Evans, 1998-99

Nancy Bell, Bruce Evans, Shuhan C. Wang, 1997

Mitchell A. Furumoto, Nancy Bell, Ricardo Díaz, Bruce Evans, Caryn Francis, 1996

Leslie K. Nabors, 1995-96

Ricardo Díaz, Mitchell A. Furumoto, Holly A. Monheimer, Leslie K. Nabors, 1994

Jill Gladstein and Rita Silver, 1993-94

Fred Chen, Cheryl Donelly, Irma Ritter, Rita Silver 1992-93

Stuart DeLorme, Joel Hardman, Thomas Hickey, Irma Ritter, Rita Silver 1991-92

Joel Hardman, Thomas Hickey, Jeanne Newman, Joel Scheier, Stephanie Stanco 1990-91

Kathryn Riley and Alice Lyons, 1988-89

Cheri Micheau and Alice Lyons, 1988

Cheri Micheau and Jess Unger, 1986-87

Catherine Doughty, 1984

Selected WPEL Articles cited above

Brodkey, L. (1986). A context for revision: An ethnographic perspective. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 2(1), 1-24.

Cerrón-Palomino, R. (1992). Standardization in Andean Languages. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 8(1), 31-44.

Chick, J. K. (2001). Constructing a multicultural national identity: South African classrooms as sites of struggle between competing discourses. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 17(1-2), 27-45.

Cohen, A. (1995). The role of language of thought in foreign language learning. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 11(2), 1-24.

Dong, J. (2006). Teachers' perspectives on professional development: A case study of innovation at a Chinese university. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 21(2), 25-44.

Erickson, F. (1988). Discourse coherence, participation structure, and personal display in a family dinner table conversation. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 4(1).

Fishman, J. A. (1993). In praise of my language. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 9(2), 1-11.

Hill, C. (1987). "Leda and the swan": Where description ends and interpretation begins. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 3(1), 1-34.

Hymes, D. H. (1992). Inequality in language: Taking for granted. Penn Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 8(1), 1-30.

Njoroge, M. C. (2008). Variations in spoken English used by teachers in Kenya: Pedagogical implications. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 23(2), 75-103.

Olshtain, E. (1994). From interpersonal to classroom discourse: Developing research methods. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 10(2), 1-8.

Spolsky, B. (2007). Towards a theory of language policy. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 22(1), 1-14.

Street, B. (2009). "Hidden" features of academic paper writing. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 24(1), 1-17.

Tarnopolsky, O. (2000). EFL teaching and EFL teachers in the global expansion of English. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 16(2), 25-42.

Wortham, S. (2001). Ventriloquating Shakespeare: Ethical positioning in classroom literature discussions. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 17(1-2), 47-64.