Working Papers in Educational Linguistics (WPEL)




This working paper examines students’ linguistic perceptions and communicative competence in the context of a super-diverse ESL classroom. Through the use of discourse, filmic, and ethnographic analyses, I show the sometimes subtle, sometimes overt sources of multilingual students’ linguistic self-perceptions. I argue for the need to explore students’ ideas and experiences of language through a pedagogy that focuses on knowledge about language and, in particular, knowledge about the ideological dimensions of language: what is known as critical language awareness, or CLA. I make the claim that it is in multilingual students’ everyday interactions in which others, often native speakers of English, react in ways that are internalized by students as evaluations of their own linguistic skills. These evaluations I refer to as metacommentary (Rymes, 2014). Thus, I argue that a pedagogy of critical language awareness is necessary not only to make explicit the ways in which such interactions function, but also to provide emergent multilinguals with powerful learning opportunities where their experiences of transnationalism/immigration and plurilingualism can truly be used as a resource for learning. Not only can this lead to productive pedagogical interventions, but harnessing students’ critical metalinguistic awareness can also be a powerful tool to scaffold language learning and beyond.