ICC 2022: Plenary Presentations
Dr. Uju Anya is Associate Professor of second language acquisition in the Department of Modern Languages at Carnegie Mellon University. She specializes in applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, and language teacher education with particular focus on race, gender, sexual, and social class identities in the language classroom. Dr. Anya’s research is published in journal articles and in her book Racialized identities in second language learning: Speaking blackness in Brazil (Routledge 2017), winner of the 2019 American Association for Applied Linguistics First Book Award recognizing a scholar whose first book represents outstanding work that makes an exceptional contribution to the field. Her other main areas of inquiry include intercultural communication, service-learning and community engagement approaches to language instruction, applied linguistics as a practice of social justice, and strategic translanguaging in world language pedagogy.
Race Matters in Intercultural Communication and Language Learning: The Case of African Americans Speaking Blackness in Brazil
This talk questions the notion that language studies programs and language learning inquiry are safe havens of intercultural communication and exchange free from racism and ethnic bias. It examines how the systemic exclusion of African Americans in second language acquisition (SLA) research and their inequitable access, treatment, and experiences in traditional classrooms, dual immersion, study abroad, and other language learning contexts challenge our color-evasive myths of race neutrality and multiculturalism. The talk includes an overview of the participation of African Americans in SLA and their experience in language education, motivated by concern with the dearth of inquiry on this population and their underrepresentation as linguistic scholars and as students in language, cultural studies, and international travel programs. It features cases of Black students engaged in world language study to illustrate how their race, gender, sexual, and social class identities are enacted and challenged in intercultural communication and language learning. The experience of one group of African Americans learning Portuguese in Brazil is highlighted to illustrate ways Black students learn to speak their material, ideological, and symbolic selves in a new language. Additionally, how linguistic action functions to reproduce or resist power and inequity is described, and lessons we can learn from their experiences in personal transformation through language learning are discussed. Ultimately, this presentation addresses how African Americans can more actively and meaningfully participate in language programs to show that identities and investments in diverse communities within and outside classrooms greatly influence Black students’ success in our field.
Exploring the Impact of Ethnographic Inquiry: Students’ Perceptions of the Foreign Other during Study Abroad
This talk presents findings from a longitudinal qualitative study that investigated the impact of ethnographic inquiry on British modern languages students’ perceptions of the European and Latin American foreign other during the year abroad. It begins from the argument that although ethnography is integrated into many modern languages undergraduate degree programmes in the UK and beyond, very little prior empirical research has assessed its actual intercultural learning outcomes for modern languages sojourners. Drawing on pre-departure and post-return semi-structured active interviews and reflective diaries that students wrote during their sojourns, the thematic and critical discourse analysis of the data directs attention to the cultural stereotypes and negative generalisations most participants produced when talking and writing about the foreign other. It is suggested that although some of these generalisations were more blatantly negative than others, common to all was the use of discursive devices (e.g., disclaimers, presentation and quoting of self and others) that attenuate the potentially face-damaging impact of ethnocentric expressions. Because these expressions remained almost intact throughout the year abroad, this talk problematises the view that ethnography provides significant intercultural benefits to modern languages sojourners against the backdrop of a wounded post-Brexit economy that makes the opportunities, as well as the resources, for going abroad increasingly scarce.
Place-based Intercultural Learning in the Virtual Era: Politics and Possibilities
The coronavirus pandemic has sparked a reimagining of higher education for students and faculty alike worldwide. This uncomfortable moment, while taking much away from us, offers an opportunity to pause and ask: what lessons can the pandemic teach us about future study abroad and intercultural programming? The current “virtual turn” in education – from virtual classrooms to virtual museum exhibits – creates space for us to consider innovative ways in which we can meaningfully engage students with people and places abroad through virtual channels. Innovation may take the form of enhancing existing programming through digital tools or forging fresh online collaborations with faculty from other universities (e.g. bulking up pre-departure curricula for study abroad; engaging students in intercultural sharing through collaborative courses or assignments). Considering that study abroad is inaccessible to many students on account of financial or time constraints, virtual culture contact may be one way to facilitate meaningful dialogue between students from diverse backgrounds.
While the possibilities may be virtually endless, it is critical to acknowledge that intercultural experiences are not inherently educational. Contact with novel places, peoples, and cultures—including virtual contact—is always a mediated encounter. Even before an initial interaction, places and cultures exist in our minds as representations, which are typically socially constructed. This presentation explores the politics and possibilities of virtual intercultural experiences while highlighting the importance of creating programming that is both socially- and culturally-conscious. Drawing from the philosophy of place-based education, pedagogies that are responsive to particular attributes of a place are presented as a way to: increase student self-awareness, promote intercultural sharing, and ultimately deconstruct representations of cultural “others.” The presentation concludes with a reflection on how place-based intercultural learning could function as a tool to increase civic engagement and cultivate student advocates of social change.
This is the eighth iteration of the ICC conference organized by the Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language and Literacy (CERCLL), a Title VI Language Resource Center at the University of Arizona.