The Misteaching of Academic Discourses: The Politics of Language in the Classroom

By Lilia I. Bartolome | Go to book overview

4
The Misteaching of Academic Discourses: Three Discourse Events

In this chapter, I discuss the academic discourse used by students and by Amy Cortland, their teacher, in one fifth-grade English and Spanish bilingual classroom. Specifically, I examine Cortland's efforts to create participation structures that elicit students' production of linguistically contextualized language. I analyze, in particular, the students' ability to contextualize language mainly using linguistic contextualizing cues rather than less formal extralinguistic cues in the classroom during normally occurring lessons.

In the classroom, I examine student discourse for contextualizing cues used in the classroom during two commonly occurring language lessons. I also analyze the teacher's efforts to elicit linguistically contextualized cues from her students, as well as her responses to students' actual efforts. By examining the contextualizing cues used by bilingual Mexican American students during naturally occurring language events in the classroom, the ways in which the teacher implicitly or explicitly teaches and evaluates students' contextualizing strategies become evident. This dual focus on student and teacher language use required that I also examine teacher demands for and evaluations of students' contextualizing strategies.

The classroom language findings are surprising, given that my research took place in the well-organized bilingual classroom of an exemplary teacher. I describe the findings because, despite the teacher's conscious efforts to create classroom situations that would encourage students to use more formal and academic ways of speaking and writing, other factors tacitly short-circuited her efforts. The subversion was so successful that even the teacher, despite her articulated linguistic and academic goals, collaborated in transforming those situations into less

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