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Language Arts, Vol. 91, No. 5, May 2014

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Language and Literacy Brokering

  • Calls for Manuscripts [FREE ACCESS]

  • Thoughts from the Editors: Language Brokering and Translanguaging: Lessons on Leveraging Students’ Linguistic Competencies [FREE ACCESS]

    Marjorie Faulstich Orellana, Danny C. Martínez, Ramón A. Martínez

  • “Mama, sign this note”: Young Refugee Children’s Brokering of Literacy Practices

    Kristen Perry

    Abstract: In this article, Perry provides a case study of a Sudanese refugee family and the language and literacy brokering provided by their kindergarten daughter. In addition to helping with letter-sound correspondence and vocabulary in English, she provided valuable knowledge about genres, the purposes they serve in the world, and how they are used. The parents valued their young daughter's brokering and viewed her as an important teacher, particularly with respect to the many texts that came home from school each week. The girl’s experience of brokering in school was different, however. This case study offers important implications for supporting young children's literacy development, family literacy, and parent participation in education.

    Keywords: Bilingual/multilingual, Ethnographic Research, Family Literacy, language brokering

  • Translanguaging Tareas: Emergent Bilingual Youth as Language Brokers for Homework in Immigrant Families

    Steven Alvarez

    Abstract: This article reports from five years of qualitative research into the languages and literacies of language brokers during tutoring sessions between emergent bilingual elementary school students, their mothers, and homework mentors at an after-school program in New York City. Alvarez’s research explores the translanguaging practices (García, 2009; 2012) of participant youth language brokers who simultaneously translated and interpreted homework with adults. He examines translanguaging events during homework tutoring, documenting how practices such as language brokering develop tactical repertoires for youths communicating language arts assignments between their mothers, mentors, and peers. Emergent bilingual youth and their homework mentors at the after-school program involved Spanish-dominant mothers in English language activities, permitting mothers’ increased collaboration in their children's homework assignments. Together, families and mentors worked to pool their bilingual resources in the practices of doing monolingualized homework multilingually and with meaningful involvement.

    Keywords: bilingualism, family, homework, language brokering, mentorship, translanguaging

  • Language and Literacy Brokering: Becoming “Linguisticians” through Parent Interviews [FREE ACCESS]

    Robin Griffith, Cecilia Silva, and Molly S. Weinburgh

    Abstract: Language serves as a key educational tool as well as to identify individuals as members of particular social groups. ELL students entering US schools are required to learn English as the tool for communication and learning. These students often encounter situations in which it is assumed that linguistically and culturally diverse families have few resources on which to draw. This study examines a student-led parent interview assignment in which language and family are integrated into the pervasive theme of “investigation.”  Students interviewed their parents/guardians in order to examine the specific and unique language needed for different jobs/professions. Using the principles of investigation, students posed questions, gathered data, analyzed the results, and shared findings. The authors conclude that teachers can engage ELLs in language investigations to support them in understanding how language works.

    Keywords: Discourse, English Language Learners, Inquiry, language brokering, language capital, language study, parental involvement

  • Linguistic Repertoires: Teachers and Students Explore Their Everyday Language Worlds

    Jacqueline D’warte

    Abstract: Australian English curriculum documents—like many Western English curriculum documents—acknowledge the linguistic and cultural diversity of student populations and ask teachers to recognize and build upon the skills students display in their homes and wider community. A crowded curriculum and a climate of high-stakes testing can make it challenging to find ways to explore students' "repertoires of linguistic practice" (Gumperz, 1972; Gutiérrez & Rogoff, 2003) and build on them in authentic ways. This article shares how five Australian teachers and their students investigated how and in what ways they used language every day. These 10–13-year-old students who spoke 23 languages and dialects in addition to English explored their everyday multilingual, multimodal worlds as resources for thinking and acting in their study of English language arts. This article shares how teachers in three classrooms built knowledge of students (Rymes, 2010) and with students by normalizing multilingualism and creating spaces for students and themselves to reflect on and value everyday practices while enhancing linguistic repertoires.

    Keywords: language brokering, language curriculum, linguistic repertoires, multicultural classrooms, multilingualism

  • Research and Policy: Dignifying Every Day: Policies and Practices That Impact Immigrant Students

    Patricia Sánchez

    Abstract: This column provides an overview of the many policies and practices that immigrant students contend with on a daily basis.  To help readers gain a better sense of the context around migration, Sanchez offers a brief discussion of world migration and displacement and describes the language policies (de jure and de facto) that immigrant students face in the US at the national, state, and local levels.  Readers will also learn about the different households in which immigrant students live:  transnational, refugee, mixed-status, and separated families.  Before ending with an update on the US’s efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform, she shares the rights of public-school immigrants (including the undocumented) and emphasizes that educators can take on a greater role in ensuring that these rights are protected. 

    Keywords: immigrant students, language policies, Student Rights, undocumented

  • Professional Book Reviews: Using Language across Communities [FREE ACCESS]

    Lucy K. Spence, Toni M. Williams, and Julia López-Robertson

    Abstract: In this issue, the authors explore language and cultural brokering through reviews of three books. The first book draws from teachers across the US to show how the arts can be used to facilitate the learning process of emergent bilingual youth. The second book invites critical thinking about the role of race in language. It also offers practical ideas for incorporating language differences into classrooms. The final review provides essential information on preschool and early elementary biliteracy development. The book provides illuminating vignettes and solid research applied to classroom practices.

    Keywords: Bilingual, biliterate, Black English, culturally responsive, emergent bilingual, race

  • Children’s Literature Reviews: A Splash of Books for Reading and Sharing with Students in Grades K–8 [FREE ACCESS]

    Jonda C. McNair, Deanna Day, Karla J. Möller, and Angie Zapata

    Abstract: This column features notable children's books spanning a number of genres and subgenres (e.g., wordless books, graphic novels). There are varied topics addressed including geographical discoveries, Horace Pippin, Elizabeth Blackwell, friendship, and even bubble gum.

  • Conversation Currents: Language Brokering and Translanguaging in School

    Marjorie Faulstich Orellana and Ofelia García

    Abstract: Ofelia García and Marjorie Faulstich Orellana discuss language brokering as a particular form of the more general kinds of translanguaging practices that bilinguals engage in. They consider the implications of a "translanguaging" framework for language education in general, and bilingual education in particular, and offer ways for teachers to build on the skills and experiences that youth have in crossing linguistic borders.

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