Linguistics Colloquium Series: Dr. Christine Mallinson, UMBC

Promoting Linguistic Awareness and Meeting Educational Challenges through Collaborative Research, Teaching, and Community Engagement

Friday, March 1, 2013 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Robinson Hall A, #447

As linguists and educators have thoroughly documented, students whose language differs from the variety of English they are expected to use at school often face educational challenges for reasons related to both culture and language. It is therefore necessary for linguists and educators to combine knowledge about language, culture, communication, and education in order to effectively promote the educational attainment of culturally and linguistically diverse students. In this colloquium, I report on “Language Variation in the Classroom,” a five-year ongoing research and outreach endeavor that combines sociolinguistic research, professional development, service learning, and community-centered initiatives. During the course of this project, collaborative partnerships were forged among hundreds of K-16 educators, linguists, and undergraduate and graduate students, primarily in Maryland and Virginia. These partnerships have taken various forms, including: workshops with K-12 educators that explore language, culture, communication, and education; internships between graduate students and high school teachers that develop needs-based, interdisciplinary curricular models; and individual tutoring programs in which undergraduate and graduate students work one on one with middle and high school students to address challenges related to writing and assessment. These collaborations reached a wide audience, promoting linguistic and educational awareness among educators and students in high school, college, and graduate school settings. Through these initiatives, K-16 educators and linguists co-developed tools to meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students, while undergraduate and graduate students were provided with the opportunity to connect academic learning and research with the needs of local schools and communities. These examples illustrate the merits of integrating research, teaching, and engagement to address issues of language variation and educational achievement. The final step is sharing these models so that other educators and linguists can develop, adapt, and apply their own models and thereby invest in disseminating critical insights about language, culture, and education.