Instructor Resources – Cultural and Ethical Impacts: Translingual and Cultural Studies Approaches to Thinking about Writing

Students will be expected to demonstrate the ability to consider the implications of diverse cultural and linguistic influences on the activities of textual production and use, and to produce texts that are responsive to these issues within particular contexts.


Learning About

PDF Guide – Translanguaging: A CUNY-NYSIEB Guide for Educators

Description: This is a guide for teachers in multilingual settings that was developed by CUNY-NYSIEB from a collaborative project of the Research Institute for the Study of Language in Urban Society (RISLUS) and the Ph.D. Program in Urban Education at the Graduate Center, The City University of New York.

What’s it good for?: This guide could help instructors understand what translanguaging means in theory and how it is implemented in specific classroom settings. Although the context in which the study was carried out is significantly different from our classrooms, there is practical advice as to how to build classroom practices from a socially just and realistic understanding of language practices. It basically informs instructors on a conceptualization of language for all students, particularly those considered linguistically-diverse.

Student Readability Rating: 5

Keywords: translanguaging, language, multilingual and bilingual students.

Author: Chrsitina Celic and Kate Seltzer


Video: Why I keep Speaking up, Even when People Mock my Language

Description:  This is a TED talk by Safwat Saleem, and is a talk about the importance of “voice” for writers and creators of any kind, and how a sense of voice can be impacted (negatively) by the ways other people “take up” one’s communicative identity.

What’s it good for?:  This could be included as a “reading” for a unit that was going to focus on “inclusive research” into a range of language practices.  The idea would be that hearing Saleem’s story would make them more likely to be “see” different practices and understand how these differences can be attended to in more inclusive ways.

Student Readability Rating: 8

Keywords:  Linguistic Accent, stuttering, language disabilities

Author: Safwat Saleem


Video: No such thing as correct English

Description: This is a TED talk in which the speaker, Kellam Barta, challenges language ideologies as to what constitutes “correct language” or not by referring to a number of social traits.

What is it good for?: This could help students think about the language idiosyncrasies across different genres, think about their own language ideologies and question sociocultural assumptions on non-standard language practices.

Student Readability Rating: 9

Keywords: standard and non-standard language, correctness.

Author: Kellam Barta


Video: The Danger of a Single Story

Description: This is a TED talk in which Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gives account of how her responses to canonical literature shaped her own writing of novels, with which she attempted to challenge dominant cultural representations.

What is it good for? This video could help students think about the cultural implications of the genres they participate in.

Student Readability Rating: 9

Keywords: culture, voice.

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


NPR article: Six Moments of code-switching in popular culture

Description: This is an NPR article that includes six videos in which we see code-switching in action.

What’s it Good For?: The videos in this resource are great ways to start classroom conversations on linguistic variation and to make students think about the ways in which they use language, as well as the implications of making certain choices. The videos are also different genres, so they can also prompt larger conversations on genre conventions, the affordances and  limitations in regards to linguistic diversity across genres (what genres seem to be more representative of  linguistic diversity and why?) as well as language and access.

The examples showcase linguistic diversity in domestic contexts (rather than outside the U.S.) and multimodality (like the Obama gif), so students can think about all the linguistic and multimodal means they use in their literate activities.

Student Readability Rating: 10

Keywords: code-switching, multimodality.

Author: Kat Chow, NPR, Code-switch (podcasts on issues related to race and  ethnicity)


Digital Archive: IDEA International Dialects of English Archive

Description: The archive contains primary source recordings of numerous accents of English across the world.

What’s it Good For?: The recordings can be played in class to expose students to English domestic and international accents they might have never encounter.

Student Readability Rating: 8

Keywords: accents, dialects, World Englishes.

Author: Paul Meier


Teacher Background Knowledge

Website: Article

Description:  There are two resources related to this idea, which talks about thinking about linguistic and cultural diversity through food writing.  The website actually has information about the class and shows student projects.  The article in the online Journal Composition Forum talks in a more theoretical way about the course and it purposes.

What’s it good for?:   Instructors might want to read the article, but it’s probably not something you’d want to assign for students, unless you were using it as a fundamental piece of knowledge for the whole class.  However, the samples on the website would be a great way to get students to look at writing that moves from something that seems more simple — food — to much more complex issues.

Student Readability Rating: the activities are ready to be completed by students (9), but the article is for teachers’ to expand on their knowledge of translingual and cultural practices (3).

Keyword:  Food writing,  language and cultural practices, student samples

Author: Steven Alvarez


Digital Book: Transnational Literate Lives in Digital Times  

Description: This is a book-length project (scholarly, but accessible) that instructors could use to learn more (in detail) about the experiences of translingual writers. In several chapters there are videos in which writers across transnational spaces share their literacy experiences.

What’s it Good For?  Instructors could find excerpts here (there are a LOT of personal stories about literacy) that would be appropriate for students, but the instructor would have to read through the chapters and find excerpts.

Student Readability Rating: Videos (9), book (4).

Keyword:  Transnational literacy

Author: Patrick W. Berry, Gail E. Hawisher, and Cynthia L Selfe


Blog post: What’s the Difference Between “Translingual” and “Transnational” Composition?: Clarifying the Relationship between two Terms

Description: This is a blog post that explains the differences between “translingual” and “ transnational” composition and why they should not be conflated. It also discusses the urgency of bringing in a transnational lens to composition studies.

What’s it Good For?: This resource for instructors who struggle to understand the problems with monolingualist perspectives to composition since it offers clear definitions of two of the terms that critique those perspectives (translingual and transnational composition).

Student Readability Rating: 7

Keyword: transnational and translingual composition

Author:  Carrie Kilfoil, University of Indianapolis


Audio podcast: Code-switch

Description: An NPR blog that includes podcasts on issues related to race and ethnicity, stories and conversations about cultural aspects.

What’s it Good For?: This is a good place for instructors to find current conversations on sociocultural and race-related aspects in the U.S. Instructors might find inspiration in some of these stories/podcasts for class activities on the cultural and ethical implications in literate activities.

Student Readability Rating: 9

Keywords: culture, race, ethnicity

Author: NPR


Our Favorite Grassroots Articles

Issue 5.1 – Word Choice: Global Challenges in Academic Writing

Description: This article works as an uptake genre in which the author, a multilingual writer, describes her response to academic writing. It also offers and example of what language negotiations look like for herself as well as for other writers.

What’s it Good for?: This article illustrates the types of language practices that multilingual writers go through to respond to academic genres and raises questions on language ideologies (like the deficit mindset towards multilingual writers or the dominance of standard languages).

Student Readability Rating: 7

Keywords: language, word choice, academic writing

Author: Cristina Sanchez-Martin


Issue 6.1 – I Spy with My Little i . . .The Manifestation of Power Dynamics

Description: In this article, Mac Scott discusses how power dynamics and cultural pressures construct rules about “correct” grammar and punctuation usage. Looking specifically at the capitalization (or lack thereof) of the letter I, he explores ways that “good” writing is actually determined not by one standard set of definitive rules, but by whether a writer effectively navigates the conventions of a specific genre.

What’s it Good for?: This article adds to the conversation of how language practices emerge from specific genres to respond to different situations.

Student Readability Rating: 10

Keywords: grammar, English, correctness

Author: Mac Scott


Issue 7.1 – The E-Cat’s Meow: Exploring Activity in Translingual Mobile Gaming

Description: In this article, Jacques sets out to explore the activity systems surrounding a mobile gaming experience, especially those with a transcultural bent. To do so, he considers a variety of his antecedent knowledges and his understanding of cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT). With some reflection on transcultural language, he discovers that his activities, although largely confined to his smartphone, are part of a system that stretches to the other side of the world and throughout a history that may be more complex than he expected.

What’s it Good for?: This article showcases how our own language practices are shaped by translingual and transcultural antecedent knowledge and extend beyond national boundaries.

Student Readability Rating: 8

Keywords: translingual, transcultural, CHAT, gaming

Author: Wesley Jacques


Issue 7.1 – Everything You Need to Know About Transferring Metaphorical Ducks

Description: In this article, Agathe Lancrenon tests some of her friends’ abilities to deduce the meaning of five French phrases translated into English. She examines how they go about guessing the meaning of the phrases by drawing on their prior knowledge and transferring their linguistic skills. The readers are also invited to play along and study their own cognitive processes, so… Allons-y! ( Let’s go!)

What’s it Good for?: Thinking about our language and composing practices are shaped by culture and previous antecedent knowledge and to understand the language practices of multilingual writers.

Student Readability Rating: 10

Keywords:  language, transfer, antecedent knowledge

Author: Agathe Lancrenon


Issue 7.1 – Language Variation Across Genres: Translingualism Here and There

Description: In this article, Sánchez-Martín explains how cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) allows writers to explicate linguistic variation in different genres. The article provides a model for how the expansion of understanding in a language allows a writer to notice the diverse resources that are available for them to make meaning in creative and non-adaptive ways.

What’s it Good for?: this article could be used to raise questions on our understanding of language and it could lead to conversations on the relationship between language and multimodality.

Student Readability Rating: 8

Keywords:  translingual, CHAT, multimodality

Author: Cristina Sanchez-Martin


Issue 7.2 – Multilingual Notes as a Tool to Understand Super Dense Readings

Description: Su Yin Khor investigated her dual-language note-taking method that emerged from her struggle to understand class readings. What she discovered was that her notes were more than multilingual scribbles on complicated theories and tricky terminology.

What’s it Good for?: this article can help writers understand their own (trans-)languaging practices in genres like note-taking across different versions of Englishes.

Student Readability Rating: 10

Keywords:  Antecedent Knowledge, Translingual Writing

Author: Su Yin Khor


Issue 7.2 – Translating the Untranslatable: Making Meaning of Idiomatic Expressions Across Languages

Description: Sanam Shahmiri interviewed seven people who spoke languages other than English to learn about how they translated untranslatable expressions. Through her interview findings, she demonstrates how translingualism is closely tied to writing research identity and uses CHAT to look at this activity system’s influence on antecedent knowledge, uptake, and transfer.

What’s it Good for?: this article illustrates how one’s language practices are influenced by culture (and vice versa) and constructed as part of larger systems of activity.

Student Readability Rating: 10

Keywords: untranslatables, culture, language, CHAT

Author: Sanam Shahmiri


Background, In-Depth, and Related Resources

Article – What China’s Talking About Today: Restaurant Menu Chinglish

Description: This article reports on the decision by the Chinese government to fight Chinglish in genres consumed by Anglophone tourists.

What’s it Good for?: It opens up a conversation about what response is more appropriate in situations where several languages are in play and have different socioeconomic and cultural status.

Student Readability Rating: 10

Keywords: Chinglish, Chinese, English, menu, translation, proficiency, correctness

Author: Massoud Hayoun


Podcast – Lost in Translation: the Power of Language to Shape how we view the world


What’s it Good for?: This podcast explains how languages reflect people’s realities. It works to disrupt our understanding of “language correctness” and it is a good resource to develop intercultural and translingual awareness and dispositions. It can be paired with several GWRJ articles likeTranslating the Untranslatable: Making Meaning of Idiomatic Expressions Across Languages” by Sanam Shahmiri and “Everything You Need to Know About Transferring Metaphorical Ducks” by Agathe Lancrenon.

Student Readability Rating: 9

Keywords: translation, languages, thought

Author:  Shankar Vedantam and produced by Maggie Penman.


TED Talk – How the language you speak affects your thoughts

Description: This talk complicates our understanding of the relationship between language and thought.

What’s it Good for?: It could be used together with the previous resource to problematize its content and raise questions around human’s agency in their language practices.

Student Readability Rating: 9

Keywords: languages, thought, translation

Author: Petrina Nomikou


Podcast – Let’s CHAT – Spring 2017 – Episode 16: Transnational Genres Pt. 1 and Pt.2


What’s it Good for?: These two podcasts offer the experiences of writing teachers’ experiences crossing genre boundaries across transnational spaces, languages, expectations, etc.

Student Readability Rating: 10 – perfect for students!

Keywords: transnational, translingual

Author: Su Yin Khor, Karli Rodriguez, Claudia Sanchez, Reda Mohammed, Hannah Kroonblawd, and Cristina Sanchez-Martin.


Podcast – Let’s CHAT – Fall 2016 – Episode 14: Navigating Translingual and Transcultural Writing

Description: In this episode, Wesley Jacques and Bailey Craig engage in a conversation about how they, as users of mainstream varieties of English, navigate translingual and transcultural genres. As an ENG 101 student, Bailey also discusses some of the ideas she has been taking up in her class and asks Wesley questions pertaining his article “The E-Cat’s Meow: Exploring Activity in Translingual Mobile Gaming”.

What’s it Good for?: This podcast could be paired with Wesley Jacque’s article “The E-Cat’s Meow: Exploring Activity in Translingual Mobile Gaming” to have contextual information on it. It also offers information on class activities to address translingual and transnational writing and students’ responses to them.

Student Readability Rating: 10

Keywords: translingual, transnational, gaming

Authors: Wesley Jacques, Bailey Craig, Cristina Sanchez-Martin


ISU Creates

Handout – Layers of Translingual Work

Description: This handout presents class activities for composition classrooms to respond to transnational composition.

What’s it good for?: Think about how to integrate small or larger projects in the composition classroom.

Student Readability Rating: 10 (the activities are student ready)

Keywords: translingual, transnational writers, etymology, Englishes, genre, recipes

Author: Cristina Sanchez-Martin


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