Language and Literacies: English as a Second Language (ESL)

English as a Second Language (ESL) is a subfield of language studies.  While it is specific to students learning English in English-medium contexts and communities, and is indeed the name of a school-specific program model, in our research and programs it is situated within broader perspectives on languages and literacies.

In language studies, views of language have moved from structural linguistics underpinnings, through those of “communicative competence,” and most recently toward theory informed by interdisciplinary views of languaging as performances leveraging assemblages of semiotic resources (both linguistic and non-linguistic).  Aspects of named languages are, then, intertwined with each other and with other modes of representation in communication. Further, communications always occur in, and are impacted by, specific sociocultural and sociopolitical contexts. We consider languaging, learning and teaching within this framework, exploring phenomena related to languaging and education in an era of mobility.

The research we undertake seeks to understand languaging as a social, fluid, situated and performative phenomenon, and to explore ecologies of languaging to better understand how and why interconnections between places, things, cultures, histories, people, identities, positionings, mobilities and ideologies matter, and shape lives and societies.  Our research includes, but extends beyond, U.S. (and English language) contexts. Examples of research topics of our faculty and students include:

  • Translanguaging & translingual practices
  • Multimodality and transmodalities
  • Classroom environments and school ecologies for English learners
  • Culturally and linguistically responsive teaching/schooling
  • The impact of language policy, programs and practices on immigrant youth
  • Languages, literacies and identities in and out of schools
  • Raciolinguistics and intersectionality vis-à-vis immigrant youth
  • Families, communities and schools
  • Critical language teacher education
  • Academic languages and literacies