Language and cultural identity


I teach ESL to immigrants who work very hard to lose their accent. They feel they need to eradicate their foreign accent in order to be taken seriously at work. Although it is my job to help them do this, I really think that it is sad that this variance is regarded as a negative attribute.

The first language that I learned was English, and because I lived with my Grandmother, she was my first model for my native tongue. My Granny was an immigrant; she came from Russia when she was 4 years old and spoke in broken English. She had a very basic vocabulary and syntax and would stick to two or three word sentences: “Come eat!”, “ Don’t walk barefoot!”. I thought about this when I had trained myself to use simpler sentences for ESL class.

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Here we go!

It’s the start of September, start of a new term, and I’m really excited about this one.

I’m Alison Crump, the instructor for the graduate course, Educational Sociolinguistics, in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University. Welcome to our course blog.

IMG_0917One of the assignments I created for my (very large!) group of graduate students is something I call “sociolinguistic noticing.” This asks students to pay attention to, reflect on, and write about how sociolinguistic issues (e.g., identity, social status, place, race, gender, language variation, language ideologies, multilingualism, language policy, etc.) play out in every day life, with a particular focus on formal and non-formal educational contexts. Over the course of the term, each student will write to this blog several times, as well as respond to their peers’ posts. I will also make occasional appearances. My hope is that we might find an audience beyond our group as well. Please feel free to join in the conversations. 

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