The Charlene J. Sato Center for Pidgin, Creole, and Dialect Studies presents
“Respeta mi idioma”: Promoting Linguistic Diversity and Sociolinguistic Justice through Youth Research and Activism
Dr. Mary Bucholtz
Department of Linguistics, UC Santa Barbara
Thursday, March 20, 12-1:15 pm
Center for Korean Studies
Linguistics and related fields have a longstanding commitment to social justice and particularly to the promotion and protection of linguistic diversity. For researchers who work in educational settings, this research has a special urgency, given the increasing educational needs of young people from diverse linguistic backgrounds and the declining resources available to support their academic success. Moreover, youth who speak sociopolitically subordinated linguistic varieties regularly face the devaluation of their language in the classroom and the wider society. In this talk I demonstrate how a combined research and community partnership program in California addresses these problems by promoting sociolinguistic justice (Bucholtz et al. forthcoming). SKILLS (School Kids Investigating Language in Life and Society) prepares low-income Latina/o high school students for college by guiding them to undertake original research and activist projects on language, identity, and power in their lives. The goal of SKILLS is not to “empower” youth but to recognize their already considerable agency to challenge sociolinguistic injustice. I consider two different student-activist projects within the program that illustrate youth agency in countering linguistic racism. The SKILLS program provides one example of how universities can work with local youth to foster linguistic diversity and educational equity.
Mary Bucholtz is Professor of Linguistics and Director of the Center for California Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of White Kids: Language, Race, and Styles of Youth Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2011) as well as numerous articles about language and identity, with a particular focus on youth, race, and gender. Her current research focuses on language and expertise among youth.