The L2 Journal is an open access, fully refereed, interdisciplinary journal which aims to promote the research and the practice of language learning and teaching. It publishes articles in English on all aspects of applied linguistics broadly conceived, i.e., second language acquisition, second language pedagogy, bilingualism and multilingualism, language and technology, curriculum development and teacher training, testing and evaluation.
Volume 14, Issue 3, 2022
"You used 'elle,' so now you're a girl": Discursive possibilities for a non-binary teenager in French class
Non-binary individuals comprise one third of the transgender population and may be especially vulnerable to marginalization. The study of languages such as French, grammatically based in a binary gender system, offers unique challenges to non-binary learners for representing themselves in accordance with their identity. Grounded in a poststructuralist understanding of identity (Butler, 1990; Norton Peirce, 1995; Weedon, 1987), this exploratory case study employs discourse analysis (Blommaert, 2005) to delve into the experiences of a non-binary high school student of French. What subject positions are imposed on the student through the discursive systems of English and French, and how is the student able to assert alternative positions? Findings demonstrate the varied and strategic linguistic constitution of the student's identity based on factors including linguistic resources and social positioning, illustrating the student's agency, creativity, and resilience. Implications for teachers are discussed, including the harm caused by misgendering and recommendations for gender-expansive pedagogies.
This paper will share the design and implementation of a Zoom-mediated theatre workshop in an undergraduate advanced Spanish language course and explore how this type of activity can support the development of a range of learners’ competences whilst generating virtual presence through playfulness and engagement. Our aim is twofold: to provide practitioners with a sample of a drama-based activity adapted for the distanced language classroom that can be adopted in any synchronous online environment, and to reflect on how we believe this workshop and its related assessment enabled creative and critical forms of engagement with the original material through students’ performance of their own dramatic transpositions. We will discuss the role of technology, appraising the affordances it provided for creative multimodal interactions and online togetherness despite the pandemic-imposed separation between participants.
Several researchers (e.g., Allen & Paesani, 2010; Maxim, 2009; MLA Report, 2007) argue that the language-literature divide limits language development in many foreign language departments and that the speaking skill is the most affected by this common two-tiered curriculum (Swender, 2003). This study investigates the implementation of the concept of collaborative dialogues in an upper-division Francophone literature and culture course to support the oral proficiency skills of the participants. It addresses research questions pertaining to how they constructed their group conversations in terms of language and content. Both whole-class discussions and weekly group dialogues, which took place outside of class, were video-recorded. The participants took an oral proficiency test at the beginning and at the end of the study and shared their opinions about the dialogues in two questionnaires. The analysis of the data sources shows that the majority of participants focused heavily on content during their conversations. This finding differs from previous research on collaborative dialogues, which fostered many interactions about language and supported language learning. Based on their analytical abilities and proficiency levels, the participants of this study either reviewed previous class discussions or extended them by exploring additional material and adding prior knowledge to their arguments.
For Critical Language Awareness and Against the “Exclusive-use-of-the-target-language” Myth: The Effects of Sociolinguistic Content in English in an Elementary Spanish Classroom
Scholars have advocated for critical approaches to language education (e.g., Del Valle, 2014; Leeman & Serafini, 2016), including those that promote the development of Critical Language Awareness, CLA (e.g., Alim, 2010; Leeman, 2018). The goal is to develop students’ critical knowledge of the cultural, political, and social dimensions of language. To this end, Del Valle (2014) suggests the inclusion of language-related content units taught in the first or shared language from the early stages of language learning. This proposal entails revising strong beliefs such as the use of the non-target language in the new language classroom. The purpose of our research is to investigate whether including language-related content in English (the shared language) in an elementary Spanish language course helped students develop CLA without hindering class performance. Additionally, we explored if providing this content increased learners’ investment in the language. Results revealed that incorporating the CLA units did not influence overall class performance. Qualitative analyses indicated that students connected the content with their own social experience, which led to greater investment in the language. Finally, the content contributed to developing students’ critical awareness of linguistic ideologies and their impact on the construction of inequality as well as in enabling social change.
Task-based language teaching (TBLT) has been at the center of the debates on which approaches are most effective for structuring, planning, and implementing language courses. Several articles have focused on its effectiveness (Bryfonsky & McKay, 2017; Long, 2016; González-Lloret & Nielson, 2015), but few have shared specific implementation experiences in the classroom (Long, 2015; Torres & Seratini, 2016). The limited array of articles that address TBLT course creation focus on language courses for specific purposes, but little is known about the challenges and solutions found when designing and implementing a TBLT course that is part of a large general education language program. This article shares the authors’ experience in developing and teaching such a course. Based on these experiences, realistic and actionable examples are offered of how to surmount the challenges encountered when developing, integrating, and teaching a TBLT course in an otherwise traditional grammar-centric First-Year university language program at a large US university.
Racialized Experiences of Language Identities: Spanish Heritage Learners Studying Spanish in a Non-Heritage Country
The most recent Open Doors report by the Institute of International Education (IIE, 2020) indicates that the number of non-white U.S. study abroad students has been steadily growing over the past 10 years, and now it accounts for 31% of all students pursuing part of their education abroad. This study focuses on four Spanish heritage language learners (SHLLs) of Dominican, Mexican, Peruvian, and Colombian/Venezuelan descent with differing Spanish proficiency who enrolled in a short-term study abroad (SA) program for Spanish in Quito, Ecuador during May-June of 2017, 2018, or 2019. This SA program was sponsored by a four-year college in the southeastern U.S. This study included a closed-ended questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, (classroom) observations, e-portfolios, journals, and e-mails. A poststructuralist lens and Norton’s theory of investment were employed to explore the identities of these four undergraduates, their social networks, language, and culture learning opportunities, and how these experiences shaped their individual development. Considerations will be offered in terms of how a social justice-oriented curriculum can be a powerful approach to support the emergence of heritage language identities abroad in socially situated contexts. Civically oriented SA programs have the potential to help SHLLs construct global identities, increase communication skills, and gain global understanding, compassion, and tolerance for social change.
This article explores the role of theatre clowning with scaffolded reflection in Waldorf (Steiner) teacher learning in enabling L2 teachers to develop important teaching dispositions. Waldorf schools require their L2 teachers to be creative, imaginative, skilled in narrative and presentation as well as being responsive to student needs and teaching situation. Theatre clowning has been previously studied in teacher development and this study affirms the outcomes of that research and adds the contribution of structured reflection to transformative learning both in initial teacher education and in continuing professional development. The study suggests that theatre clowning can be a valuable artistic approach in L2 teacher learning, especially when supported by scaffolded reflection.
This is an action research report about the making of three dialogic learners, Cindy, Yori, and Leo at an arts-oriented university in China. It draws inspiration from Gao’s dialogical communicator (2014), which is constructed on Bakhtin’s dialogic theory (1981). These students, with their struggles and efforts, will hopefully become open-minded dialogical communicators (Gao, 2014) with the possibility of engaging in life-long self-education (Gao, 2001).