Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Combating Linguistic Hegemony: Preparing and Sustaining Bilingual Teacher Educators in the United States

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Combating Linguistic Hegemony: Preparing and Sustaining Bilingual Teacher Educators in the United States

Article excerpt


Currently the framing of bilingual education continues to reproduce hegemonic Whiteness that defines English as the White, "standard" variety of English (Flores, 2016) and Spanish as the "standard," conqueror's form of Spanish (Garcia, 2014). Bilingualism in the United States has been interpreted in multiple ways, including having equal, high degrees of bilingualism and biliteracy across languages or being two monolinguals in one (Grosjean, 1989). In contrast, Valdes (2001) argued that the "idealized, perfectly balanced bilingual is for the most part a mythical figure that rarely exists in real life" (p. 40). Bilingualism (Valdes, 2001) and biliteracy (Hornberger & Link, 2012) exist on a dynamic continuum, and proficiencies shift accordingly. Bilinguals speaking nonprestige or stigmatized language varieties are often associated with lower socioeconomic status and education levels such that Valdes, Brookes, and Chavez (2003) wrote, "Bilingual is considered the polite or even politically correct term with which to refer to children who are poor, disadvantaged and newly arrived" (p. 35). More recently, Rosa (2016) showed a school principal's understanding of the term bilingual as meaning not knowing "the language," implying that "the language" is English and thereby devaluing non-English languages.

In the United States, Latinx (1) K-12 students receive explicit and implicit messages that their linguistic practices are not welcome in the classroom, resulting in subtractive bilingual education (Cervantes-Soon, 2014; Flores, 2016). Berry (2009) and Amos (2018) showed that this marginalization also occurs in bilingual teacher preparation with equally damaging effects. Amos's (2018) study reported two bilingual education teachers' experiences of being condemned by a teacher education classmate for speaking Spanish in public and the questioning of their intelligence and accomplishments. Berry (2009) noted that with limited numbers of bilingual people of color in tenure-track positions, bilingual students of color are at risk of being underestimated and misunderstood.

Flores (2016) argued that the marginalization of bilinguals in U.S. schools is a result of the history of bilingual education in the United States having two competing visions during the civil rights movement: race radicalism and liberal multiculturalism. Race radicalism positioned bilingual education as a struggle against oppression, but over time, bilingual education was co-opted by those supporting liberal multiculturalism (Flores, 2016). As a result, much of bilingual education today is subtractive when "the home language of language-minoritized students is used solely to develop Standardized American English" (Flores, 2016, p. 14). Consequently, Latinx students' English and Spanish are viewed as deficits, while White students who acquire Spanish as a second language are lauded (Rosa, 2016).

One consequence of the current, subtractive form of bilingual education is that language is racialized to systematically exclude Others (Rosa, 2016). For instance, the English learner (EL) label and its testing requirements not only stigmatize and result in overtesting of EL students but also identify students as less American than their English-speaking peers, as English is associated with citizenship and Spanish with foreignness (S. J. Hernandez, 2017). Flores (2017) called for a materialist anti-racist approach to language activism, positioning language policy within the broader social, political, and economic contexts. This approach emphasizes the intersectionality of bilingual education with race and class and calls for interdisciplinary approaches to begin to combat the marginalization of communities of color (Flores, 2017).

In this article, we explore the heterogeneity of bilingual teacher educators through our critical collaborative autoethnographies. We problematize the question of who is linguistically qualified to do this work and ask how universities can better prepare bilingual teacher educators for the distinct challenges they face so that they can better prepare future bilingual teachers. …

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