Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Ofelia García

Committee Members

Wendy Luttrell

Ira Shor

Ernest Morrell

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Curriculum and Instruction | Language and Literacy Education | Secondary Education | Secondary Education and Teaching


translanguaging, English education, literacy, curriculum and instruction, teacher preparation


This ethnographic case study of an urban, linguistically diverse English classroom explores what happened when space was made for students both to voice their experiences living amidst ideologies that marginalize their language practices and identities and to resist such ideologies through writing that pushed monoglossic boundaries. Intensive one-on-one work with a high school English teacher led to the creation of a year-long curriculum that emphasized metalinguistic inquiry and discussion, linked language, power, and identity, and modeled the ways that writers and other artists take linguistic risks in order to critique monoglossic language ideologies.

Over the course of the year, students engaged with a number of multimodal texts, including articles, blog posts, speeches, podcasts, video clips, spoken word performances, and fiction, that explored how language shapes who we are and how society works. Students also engaged in author studies where they read the work of writers who challenge monoglossic expectations through their use of translanguaging (García, 2009) and the creative integration of diverse linguistic styles. As students analyzed the linguistic choices writers and artists made, they also explored what it meant for them to make choices in their own writing, namely through college essays that invited them to integrate their different language practices.

Finding from this project indicate that students have sophisticated understandings of the ways language ideologies shape their identities and experiences both in and out of school. Though some students articulated an internalization of ideologies that portray their language practices as deficient, they also expressed sentiments that aligned with what I term a translingual sensibility, a set of dispositions that includes an emphasis on meaning-making, an understanding of languages as fluid and interrelated, an interest in language practices other than their own, and a resistance to and transgression of monoglossic expectations and rules. Students enacted a translingual sensibility in many elements of classroom work, from in-class discussions to student-generated role-play to analysis of literary texts. However, their high levels of awareness of how their language practices are heard and judged also led them to protect those practices and their identities by making choices about how to include them – if at all – in their “academic” writing.

Overall, the year of instruction at the heart of this project aimed to challenge deficit framings of linguistically marginalized students by reframing them as gifted citizen sociolinguists (Flores, 2015; Rymes, 2014) whose awareness of and flexibility with language enable them to challenge the very ideologies that marginalize them. By implementing a curriculum that fostered students’ translingual sensibilities rather than uphold and reify standard language ideologies (Lippi-Green, 1997), this project demonstrates possibilities and challenges to the a critical translingual approach to the English classroom.