Not Just Language: Linguistic Justice in the Classroom (Roundtable)

Pedagogy & Professional / Rhetoric & Composition

Christian Aguiar (University of the District of Columbia)

April Baker-Bell’s landmark study Linguistic Justice: Black Language, Literacy, Identity and Pedagogy challenges English, writing and literature faculty to re-examine the ways the required use of “Standard” American English (SAE) impacts African-American learners. Baker-Bell’s critique extends and complicates our discipline’s ongoing work to ensure that composition, literature, and language classrooms are equitable spaces for all learners, not just those whose linguistic skills and goals align with SAE. It calls on us to consider how implicit or explicit expectations for language use might silence and disadvantage speakers of Black English while privileging speakers of SAE.

This roundtable invites contributions that explore, apply, extend, engage or reimagine Baker-Bell’s notion of linguistic justice with a focus on teaching and learning. In the spirit of Linguistic Justice, contributions that blend, meld or remix modes are encouraged.

Significance: Baker-Bell’s groundbreaking work will, when we convene, be a full two years old; the time is right to explore how we can apply her framework, practices and/or wisdom in our own classrooms in order to move towards linguistic justice.

April Baker-Bell’s groundbreaking 2020 text Linguistic Justice calls on educators to explore the way Standard American English dominance negatively impacts learners and learning and to build robust, linguistically just teaching and learning approaches to challenge this dominance. This roundtable offers practitioners the opportunity to share, discuss, and build.