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Talking About Text: Engaging in Critical Metalinguistic Talk

Author(s): Jacqueline D'warte


In this paper discourse analytical methods are applied to data from two middle school classrooms, as a teacher, researcher, and students’ engage in research based curricula (Martínez et al., 2008; Orellana, & Reynolds, 2008) designed to leverage students’ language brokering skills and facilitate discussion about languages. Analysis centers on talk that mediates understandings of voice and register as participants recognize, and explore, the appropriateness and application of their linguistic skills in multiple settings.

Students document their linguistic practices, which include translation, interpretation, codeswitching, register-shifting, and use of dialects. Students examine the linguistic resources they use, for example, while translating, talking to authority figures, and communicating with parents and friends, more generally they explore the choices they make and the ways they use language for different audiences and purposes, and why some ways are valued over others.

This paper argues that engaging in talk about how language meets our social needs is an important first step in building on students’ strengths, while also deepening students’ metalinguistic awareness and enhancing students’ linguistic repertoire. Creating a space for critical talk about language in the classroom curriculum can support students and also teachers in learning language, learning about language, and learning through language (Halliday, 1977).

APA Citation:

D’warte, Jacqueline (submitted). Talking About Text: Engaging in Critical Metalinguistic Talk. Submitted to the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting (AERA 2010), Denver, Colorado.


037TalkingTextP016.pdf — PDF document, 407Kb

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