Last month, undergrad alum Gabrielle Valentic (BA ‘15) and Associate Professor Carmel O'Shannessy presented their paper titled, "The influences of teacher multilingual linguistic response on Spanish-English bilingual student linguistic identity." This presentation was part of the "Children's language and multilingualism: Indigenous language use at home and school" workshop held by the Center for Excellence in the Dynamics of Language at Western Sydney University. The talk was given via an online connection between Valentic in Dallas, O’Shannessy in Ann Arbor and the workshop in Sydney. The paper is the result of Valentic’s Honors thesis research, for which she was awarded highest honors. Valentic graduated from UM with a Linguistics Major (Honors) in 2015, and is currently undertaking an MA in Applied Linguistics at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is working as an Instructional Associate in the English and Academics Foundation Department at Tarrant County College, Texas. Carmel O’Shannesy has been with the University of Michigan since 2007 where she began as an assistant professor in the Linguistics Department, she has been an associate professor since 2014.
Among others, Potowski (2007) called for empirical research on classroom interaction styles in dual immersion programs. In the case study presented here Goffman’s (1967) and Brown and Levinson’s (1987) frameworks of face and politeness are used to frame teacher responses to students, through positive and negative identity work. Five hours of audio recordings were made in a first grade classroom during a lesson conducted in English, in a Spanish-English dual immersion school in Miami. The teacher-student interactional styles were observed and teacher responses to students were coded as scaffolding, code-switching, use of same code as the child, and/or type of English accent (Hispanic or nonHispanic) in specific interactions. The findings are that use of these strategies performs politeness and face work in the classroom. The strategies address the positive face of the children when the children use Spanish and English, through indicating acceptance and approval of the children’s language choices, and they address the negative face of the children by allowing them the freedom to speak in both languages. We argue that these strategies help to affirm the bilingual identities of the children.
Brown, Penelope, & Levinson, Stephen. (1987). Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Goffman, Erving. (1967). Interaction ritual: Essays on face-to-face behavior. New York: Doubleday.
Potowski, Kim. (2007). Language and Identity in a Dual Immersion School. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.