Can we hear race? Now you see me, now you hear me: Raciolinguistic identity

  • DATE

    24 April 2024

  • TIME

    6:00 pm to 7:30 pm

  • AGES

    All ages welcome



Can we hear race? Now you see me, now you hear me: Raciolinguistic identity negotiation in the Spanish language classroom as a contact zone, by Paola Guerrero-Rodríguez

Instituto Cervantes Manchester and Leeds presents a new lecture series: “Acquiring a Second Language: Why do we find it so difficult?”, coordinated by Idoia Elola (Texas Tech University) y Ana Oskoz (University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), a forum aimed at teachers, language studentes, parents and the general public, which will consider how we learn a second, or a heritage language. Presenters will discuss various elements and difficulties that come with second-language acquisition including: myths and realities surrounding language acquisition and age, the effect of explicit knowledge and how it can affect learning, the use of language according to the context in which it is spoken, and the effect of education on our ability to learn a second language.

Race as a social construct is a complex one. When one adds language to the equation, the intersection between race and language cuts across individuals’ self- and social identities. In an ideal world, all languages should be equal, but due to social reasons, they are not (Hymes, 1992). Unfortunately, language intertwines with the social systems that are based and/or justify systems of privilege, oppression, and power.

In multilingual areas, the language classroom becomes a contact zone where each individual brings their own background, heritage and life experiences. The raciolinguistic dynamics that have impacted them do not stay outside the classroom walls, they accompany these individuals and shape their learning and socialization experiences. For multi/bilingual speakers these experiences may also be those of racialized individuals (e.g., Rosa, 2019).

Can we say then that race is universally understood in the same way by all of us? In what ways does race impact the classroom experience? Does this experience exclusively impact learners or are there any other parties impacted too? How do the involved parties in the language classroom negotiate their raciolinguistic identities? In this talk, we intend to answer these questions as we discuss i) the implications of race and language in the Spanish language classroom in West Texas, and ii) the strategies that educators can follow to counteract the negative effects of racialization.

Paola Guerrero-Rodríguez is an Assistant Professor of Hispanic Linguistics and Director of the Spanish Heritage Language Program at Texas Tech University. Her research focuses on understanding the dynamics of the heritage language classroom and the mixed classroom in order to implement better pedagogical practices that satisfy the needs of heritage speakers in both learning contexts. She is also interested in the power dynamics that impact language, in how these dynamics use language as a vehicle to perpetuate discrimination, and, most importantly, how the language classroom is a setting that can help stop perpetuating discriminatory discourses.