My name is Nelson Flores and I am an assistant professor in educational linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. You can find more information about my research here: https://upenn.academia.edu/NelsonFlores.
So what exactly is educational linguistics? Educational linguistics is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the role of language in teaching and learning. It does not begin with any normative assumptions as to how people should be using language. Instead, the focus is on how people actually use language, the ways that schools expect them to use language, and the ways that the actual and the expected can be bridged through the development of culturally and linguistically responsive curricula, programs and policies.
One basic assumption at the core of educational linguistics is simple: there is a mismatch between the complex and fluid language practices of actual language users and the bounded and static conception of language that informs current approaches to educational reform. For educational reform to truly leave no child behind it must begin to engage with and address this mismatch and work to build on the complex language practices students already possess rather than see these language practices as barriers that need to be overcome.
A second basic assumption at the core of educational linguistics is that the language used to describe education shape how those issues are understood. Language is not an objective descriptor of educational issues but rather an active agent in defining these issues. Words matter and the way that words frame the education reform debate allow for the possibility of certain understandings of education to emerge while marginalizing other possible understandings.
This blog is my attempt at beginning the conversation on how to explore both of these basic assumptions in ways that can inform current educational reform initiatives.