"Navigating Language Learning as a Non-Binary Student" with Julia Donnelly Spiegelman

Event Information

  • Starts: 5:00 pm on Monday, April 3, 2023
  • Ends: 6:30 pm on Monday, April 3, 2023

Join us for "Navigating Language Learning as a Non-Binary Student: Insights into Diverse Experiences from Participatory Research with Non-Binary Youth," a talk led by Julia Donnelly Spiegelmen. This event is being presented as part of BU Wheelock's Language Education Speaker Series.

Gender identities beyond the biologically assigned categories of “male” and “female” have been documented across time, space, and culture, yet these identities are relegated to the margins by dominant paradigms spread through colonization (Keenan, 2022). Due to transphobia and gender binarism, non-binary individuals are subject to frequent miscategorization and misgendering, language-based forms of identity invalidation that cause psychological and emotional harm (Johnson et al., 2020). Given the stakes of language in the affirmation of trans* identities (Zimman, 2019), language teachers must take deliberate action to avoid inflicting harm in their classrooms.

This talk draws from a participatory action research project with 10 non-binary students in US high schools in which students engaged in surveys, interviews, focus groups, journaling, and group activities in an online community related to learning French and Spanish at school. By exploring the participants’ situated experiences, this study investigates the affordances and constraints in each student’s language classroom, how the student was able to exercise agency, and the factors impacting their investment in language learning. Cross-case analysis points to the central power of the teacher, the personally-felt impact of language ideologies, and the attritional effects of student labor. I will conclude by offering recommendations for teachers on building language classrooms where all can learn and thrive.

Questrom School of Business, 595 Commonwealth Ave(HAR 406)

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