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Sociolinguistics Lecture Series: Christie Toth (University of Michigan)

MAY 09, 2014 | 2:00 PM TO 4:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




May 09, 2014: 2:00 PM-4:00 PM




Speaker: Christie Toth

Title: Linguistic Diversity in the Tribal College Writing Classroom: Language Shift, Navajo English, and Standard English Ideologies

My research focuses on writing instruction at a tribally-controlled college on the Navajo Nation. Drawing on a semester-long ethnographic case study with tribal college faculty and their students, as well as my own experiences teaching composition in this setting, I will discus how the ongoing process of Navajo language shift is resulting in a complex pattern of linguistic diversity that shapes students' experiences with academic writing. I suggest that the English faculty's diverse disciplinary backgrounds, the language ideologies that pervade many composition textbooks and assessment instruments, and the identity-based discourses of Navajo language maintenance efforts all contribute to the proliferation of largely-unquestioned Standard English ideologies in tribal college writing classrooms. These ideologies result in pedagogical approaches that neither recognize nor validate Navajo English, a distinct English language variety that is now the primary language of the majority of Navajo students under the age of 30.