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Join us at the WATESOL Fall 2017 Conference! 

Keynote:   Reimagining English Competence for the 21st Century: A Multilingual SLA Perspective

Speaker:   Dr. Lourdes Ortega, Georgetown University

Second-language users of English are bi/multilinguals with rich communication repertoires. Yet all too often their English is construed as deficient and their multilingual prowess is erased. In this talk, I reflect on what it means for multilinguals to be communicatively competent and suggest ways in which our pedagogies can respond to it. I will argue that, more and more, developing language for communicating in the 21st century means developing the capacity to use English for transformation and empowerment, so as to be able to claim the right to speak (as Norton Peirce 1995 called it) and to exercise the power to impose meanings (as Bourdieu 1972 called it). How do we achieve these new goals? First, our language pedagogies must open up to the psycholinguistic realities of multilinguals. Translanguaging might be a way to do so (García & Li Wei, 2014). We will also need to help our students cultivate an awareness of both world Englishes and unequal Englishes (Tupas, 2015). We must also include strategies that help them recognize, disrupt, and productively exploit to their advantage the experiences of being positioned by others as a novice, a foreigner, an outside member, or a nonnative speaker. In sum, our pedagogies must show that language is about identity choices and communication is about power struggles. How do we meet this tall order? I believe both big and small pedagogical practices can help the TESOL profession rise to the challenge of meeting these 21st century goals for a reimagined English communicative competence that is transformative and empowering.

To see Dr. Ortega's full bio, click here.

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