Modern and Classical Languages
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

FRLN 385: Multilingualism, Identity, and Power

FRLN 385-001: Multilingualsm, Identity/Power
(Spring 2018)

03:00 PM to 04:15 PM TR

Aquia Building 347

Section Information for Spring 2018

Short description:

This interdisciplinary course examines individual and societal aspects of multilingualism, paying special attention to the social and political aspects of language, as well as its relationship to cultural, ethnoracial, and national identities. Topics covered include language choice, linguistic maintenance and shift, code-switching and translanguaging, language planning, educational policy, and representations of multilingualism. Fulfills the Synthesis requirement and also counts toward the Spanish minor and major.

Required text:

Horner, J. & Weber, J. J. (2018) Introducing Multilingualism: A Social Approach, 2nd Edition. Routledge.

Full description:

There are far more languages spoken in the world than there are nation states, and essentially all nations consist of speakers of a variety of languages. In addition, the majority of the worlds’ peoples speak more than just one language. Thus, regardless of whether we focus on individuals or political entities, multilingualism is the norm around the world. Even in the US, which many people imagine to be a monolingual English-speaking nation, approximately 20% of the population over 5 years old speaks speak a non-English at home, and the majority of these individuals are also fluent in English. In recent years globalization and increased international migrations have brought greater attention to multilingualism).

Some questions raised by the new awareness of multilingualism include: How do multilinguals choose among the languages they speak? How do multilingual people use different languages, and the combination of languages, to convey different social messages or to perform different aspects of their cultural identity? What is the relationship among language, ethnicity, race, and nationality? What languages are spoken in the US and who speaks them? Does current multilingualism differ from the multilingualism that has always been a part of US history? What are the histories, demographics and experiences of the speakers of the most commonly spoken non-English languages?

In this class, we will attempt to answer these questions utilizing a variety of approaches, methods, and data types. Our interdisciplinary sociocultural linguistic approach will draw from anthropology, demography, political science and sociology as well as linguistics. We begin with a consideration of some key issues in multilingualism as well as the policies and politics of multilingualism in a variety of settings around the world. Next, we examine the history, politics and policies of multilingualism in the US and Canada in greater depth, highlighting similarities and differences as well as the ways that ideologies have evolved in the two countries. Topics covered include code-switching, the relationship of language to cultural, ethnoracial, and national identities and categories, standard language ideologies, and contemporary representations of different languages and speakers of those languages in public discourse, mass media and the built environment. We will also discuss language planning and policy, including language revitalization programs, multilingual education, language rights, and language access. We will conclude the semester with group presentations on the demographics, history and sociolinguistics of various languages, and the speakers of those languages spoken in the US (sources will be provided).

We will read from and discuss a wide range of scholarly and popular publications. Class activities will include lectures, discussion of the readings, hands-on analysis of linguistic data (normally carried out in collaboration with other students), and critical examination of artifacts such as advertisements, letters to the editor, video clips, cartoons, and public space (often as a small-group activity). Students will have short daily writing assignments.

This course is designed to help students build upon competencies and knowledges developed in General Education foundation and core requirements by integrating methods and approaches from a variety of disciplines. Key components of the course are the consideration of contemporary debates surrounding multilingualism, and the ideological basis and implications of language policies. Students will demonstrate written and oral communication skills via daily writing assignments, exams, in-class discussion and formal presentations.

Satisfies the general education requirement in systhesis.


Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Study of individual and societal aspects of multilingualism including language choice, linguistic maintenance and shift, code-switching, language planning, educational policy, and representations of multilingualism. Interdisciplinary approach emphasizes the social and political aspects of multilingualism, as well as the relationship of language to cultural, ethnoracial, and national identities and categories. May not be repeated for credit.
Mason Core: Synthesis
Recommended Prerequisite: Completion or concurrent enrollment in all other required Mason Core courses.
Schedule Type: Lecture

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes.

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