Multilingual Writing Support: Fostering Critical Consciousness Through One-to-One Writing Conferencing

Multilingual Writing Support: Fostering Critical Consciousness Through One-to-One Writing Conferencing

Dawn Janke
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8093-6.ch007
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This chapter will provide a research-based protocol for one-to-one writing conferencing that helps tutors and teachers to navigate the tension between standardizing multilingual students' language practices and honoring their rhetorically rich linguistic backgrounds through a series of activities in a ten-week writing center pedagogy course. This series of activities was specifically developed in an effort to respond to writing tutors who are always seeking strategies that effectively apply theoretical principles in practice. While this work focuses specifically on one-to-one writing tutoring, the topic of multilingual writing support is applicable to any English language learning context. By the end of this chapter, readers will have gained a practical strategy centered on using declarative, procedural, and conditional knowledge to help preservice tutors and teachers develop metalinguistic awareness and foster critical consciousness through one-to-one conferencing.
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There exists a critical tension for writing teachers and tutors committed to social justice—empowering multilingual writers to recognize and apply their unique rhetorical fluencies while being mindful of institutional expectations for conformity to standard language practices. A cursory review of TESOL and writing center journal publications over the past decade points to the commitment and challenges within the two fields to deliver equitable and inclusive teaching and tutoring pedagogies that resist the myth that academic literacy is the only foundation for success (Graff, 1991, 2017; Grimm, 1996, 1999) and embrace the ways in which language variety is a personal and professional resource. Indeed, writing centers (and the tutors who work within them) play a particularly important role in helping writers both to reproduce and resist English language norms. This chapter thus considers writing centers as a rich site for examining the theory and practice of multilingual writing support, specifically for those who teach or tutor English as an additional language. Focusing on the non-traditional TESOL context of the writing center provides a distinct analysis of critical praxis in the teaching and advocacy of multilingual students.

Language and literacy have long been means by which dominant groups categorize and classify the Other. In the educational context, multilingual students are othered because they differ in their use of the English language and are thereby impacted by policies and practices designed to remediate a perceived inability to meet a singular English language standard (Byrd & MacDonald, 2005; Colyar & Stich, 2011; Flores & Drake, 2014; Makoni & Pennycook, 2006; Matsuda, 2006). This singular standard is established by White supremacist, heteronormative, ableist, middle class masculine systems (Inoue, 2016), and since standardized language is fixed, there is no room for difference. According to Milroy and Milroy (2012), English language standardization is an ongoing process driven “by various social, political and commercial needs” that intends to “ensure fixed values for the counters in a system” (p. 19). This codification of standardized English is a social construct established through correctness (Lippi-Green, 1994; Milroy & Milroy, 2012). Correct usage of language is an in-group marker, according to Labov (1966), and the in-group in the case of standardized English is the White, educated middle class (Baker-Bell, 2019; Lippi-Green, 2012; Smitherman, 2000). Within the ideology of standardized English, certain linguistic features assume greater value than others, and non-standard practices are “considered careless and ignorant deviations” (Milroy & Milroy, p. 21). As Milroy and Milroy explain, "Language guardians always consider non-standard usage (and sometimes standard colloquialisms) to arise from the perversity of speakers or from cognitive deficiency (an inability to learn what is 'correct')" (p. 21). Hegemony is maintained by these language guardians, who infiltrate lived environments. Lippi-Green (1994) suggests that, primarily, the educational system promotes and protects standard language ideologies, with media, the entertainment industry, and corporate America equally complicit in the indoctrination process. The recent film Sorry to Bother You (2018) illustrates the saturation of standardization among these settings in which an African American telemarketer is instructed to use his White voice and stick to the script if he wants to be successful. This narrative of the minoritized Other who is expected to betray his identity in the service of capital elides the strength of linguistic diversity in U.S. classrooms and boardrooms. It also exemplifies the critical tension for writing teachers and tutors who are committed to justice in serving multilingual students while working within a system that positions them as language guardians in the interest of power and privilege.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Translanguaging: The process by which multilingual writers access and employ features and strategies from their full linguistic repertoire for knowledge- and meaning-making in communicative contexts.

Declarative Knowledge: Explicit knowledge of facts and concepts.

Critical Consciousness: An educational process in which one reflects on one’s own sociopolitical positionality, recognizes the effects of power and privilege on individuals and groups, and develops the self-efficacy needed to challenge systemic injustices.

Conditional Knowledge: The ability to discern when and why to employ declarative and/or procedural knowledge.

Lower-Order Concerns: Minor or local issues at the sentence-level of a text, such as sentence structure, grammar, and mechanics.

Higher-Order Concerns: Major or global issues in a text that affect content as a whole, such as an unclear purpose, lack of audience awareness, insufficient development of ideas, or incoherent organizational presentation.

Metalinguistic Awareness: A cognitive process in which an individual reflects on the use of language as a code or system to better understand how meaning is conveyed and manipulated.

Procedural Knowledge: Implicit knowledge of how to perform knowledge.

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