The University of Arizona

Framework for Incorporating Sociolinguistic Diversity

Joseph Kern


This paper proposes a pedagogical framework for incorporating sociolinguistic diversity in the language classroom to counter the promotion of standard varieties. It problematizes the standard language ideology especially as it pertains to the standard variety of Spanish and the prestige of the Real Academia Española. It reviews current critical pedagogical approaches to address linguistic ideologies in the Spanish heritage language classroom and puts them in dialogue with Kramsch’s (2006) concept of symbolic competence and a multiliteracies approach (New London Group, 1996, 2000). Finally, it discusses a pilot study of the implementation of the proposed pedagogical framework in two upper-division Spanish courses at a large public university in the U.S. Southwest with both second and heritage language students. The proposed framework demonstrates how (socio)linguistics can contribute to pedagogy by encouraging an approach guided by sociolinguistic sensitivity. Doing so can counter the promotion of standard varieties, legitimize the elements of sociolinguistic diversity in students’ native languages, and allow students to interpret and create meaning in the target language within today’s multilingual and global context.

Keywords: sociolinguistic diversity, standard language ideology, second language pedagogy, Spanish

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