Working Papers in Educational Linguistics (WPEL)

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Working Papers in Educational Linguistics (WPEL) is a student managed journal that presents work primarily by students and faculty within the University of Pennsylvania community. WPEL's focus is on research specifically related to areas of educational linguistics. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, second language acquisition, sociolinguistics, interlanguage pragmatics, language planning and policy, literacy, TESOL methods and materials, bilingual education, classroom research on language and literacy, discourse analysis, computer assisted language learning, language and gender, language and the professions, and language related curriculum design. WPEL is abstracted in LLBA and ERIC databases. WPEL also maintains an exchange with other working papers. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics Educational Linguistics Division Graduate School of Education 3700 Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19104-6216 Email:

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 310
  • Publication
    What Is Normal in Educational Linguistics?
    (2019-04-01) Phuong, Jennifer
    In this note from the field, I explore what is considered normal in educational linguistics when considering language in special education contexts through a Disability Studies in Education perspective. In highlighting theoretical perspectives that simultaneously complement and complicate one another, I argue that our field should more carefully consider processes of ableism and racism in issues of language and education.
  • Publication
    Jula Ajami in Burkina Faso: A Grassroots Literacy in the Former Kong Empire
    (2013-10-01) Donaldson, Coleman
    Ajami (عجمي) is a term frequently used to refer to the use of the Arabic script to write sub-Saharan African languages. West African lingua francas such as Hausa, Wolof, and Fulani have a rather well-documented record of Ajami artifacts and use. In Eastern Manding varieties such as Bamanan and Jula, however, Ajami practices and texts have been viewed as rather limited in comparison. Recent 2012 fieldwork in Burkina Faso however suggests that Ajami practices in Jula have simply escaped the notice of the Western scholarly community. Drawing on ethnographic fieldnotes about production of Esoteric Islamic medicinal treatment recipes in addition to dialogues, descriptions and songs produced at my request, I explore Jula Ajami as a grassroots literacy existing alongside the Koranic schooling tradition. Turning to the texts themselves, I analyze the graphic system in use as well as the linguistic characteristics that suggest the enregisterment of Kong Jula as appropriate in Jula Ajami texts.
  • Publication
    An Inquiry Approach to Understanding Students’ Learning Goals in an Adult English for Speakers of Other Languages Classroom
    (2019-04-01) Schwab, Emily
    This paper seeks to expand discussions about identifying students’ learning aspirations in adult English for Speakers of Other Languages classes in the United States. By critically examining the process of ascertaining students’ learning goals and dreams for the future in one adult ESOL class, the author explores how an inquiry approach to this process opened space for centering students in class learning design and the implications it has for complicating researchers’ understandings of forming curriculum around the reasons students expressed for coming to class. Utilizing data from a year-long practitioner inquiry project, the teacher–researcher offers a perspective on centering students’ dreams and goals as curriculum and the potential it has to augment discussions of student-generated curricula in an era of increased decentering of students’ perspectives in adult literacy education in the United States.
  • Publication
    Analyzing Co-Teacher Turns as Interactional Resources
    (2019-04-01) Wang, Xiaoyu
    Collaborative teaching is widely adopted in teacher-training programs in the United States for the positive influence it has on teachers’ professionalism and on students’ learning. Though there are a vast number of studies on the Initiation- Response-Feedback (IRF) sequence between teachers and students, studies on the use of IRF in co-teaching contexts are scarce. The current study focuses on interactions between two pre-service teachers in a semester-long adult ESL classroom at a U.S. university. Through a discourse analysis of the leading and non-leading teachers’ interactions within the IRF sequence, the study has found that the nonleading teacher utilized the second turn of IRF as an interactional resource to advance the instructional talk and achieve the immediate instructional objectives.
  • Publication
    Should Quechua Be Used in Puno's Rural Schools?
    (1986-04-01) Hornberger, Nancy H
    This paper speculates on the possibilities for planning for language maintenance in one particular case. It considers the pros and cons of using Quechua in schools serving Quechua-speaking communities in rural highland Puno, Peru, from the point of view of its bearing on Quechua language maintenance. The paper is based on a two-year ethnographic sociolinguistic study in two communities of Puno. The study compared uses Quechua and Spanish in the communities and their schools, one of which participated in a bilingual education project. It also compared attitudes of community members toward the two languages. The paper draws from the findings of the research in discussing two questions: Can language maintenance be planned?; and Can schools be agents for language maintenance?
  • Publication
    Code Switch at an Alternative High School
    (2019-04-01) Schmeltz, Dean
    A two-year, ethnographic study of the use of the term code switch within an alternative high school community reveals that it has taken on a distinct, institutional meaning. Observed primarily as a reprimand, teachers nonetheless downplayed the significance of the disciplinary term in interviews. However, Black students expressed a sense of being asked to switch between two versions of themselves, only one of which is professional enough to belong in school. Students generally accepted that this was what teachers implied by the term, but some rejected the idea that code switching is a fundamental change, or that the change should only go in one direction at school. These findings indicate that what the school may intend to be a socially progressive term has been taken up in a way that reinforces negative self-perception among students. This paper concludes with suggestions for educators seeking to foster discourse that supports students from marginalized communities, without deferring to respectability politics.
  • Publication
    Salsa Remixed: Learning Language, Culture, and Identity in the Classroom
    (2013-10-01) Flippin, Laura L
    In our increasingly globalized world, the notions of language, culture, community, and nation are more and more fluid. Considering the influence of globalization, new media, and current societal flux, sociolinguists have begun to examine how identity, language, and culture are negotiated through popular culture (Pennycook, 2010). Using a descriptive, interactional sociolinguistic approach, this paper explores this phenomenon by examining a small community of approximately 20-30 students who are members of a salsa club at a university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. First, this case study explores student motivation for joining this community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Second, it considers the pedagogical practices within the classroom, which although informal in design, are traditional in style. Students learn how to move their bodies as well as interact on the dance floor. Finally, it will examine how gendered roles are defined and negotiated. The findings from this study suggest conflicting attitudes and ideologies about the agency each partner has (or does not have).
  • Publication
    Education at the Crossroads: Bilingualism In Elementary Classrooms in Nigeria
    (1988-10-01) Dada, Ayorinde; Ogunyemi, Olubunmi