Plurilingualism for U.S. Writing Classrooms

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Contribution to Books

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This chapter argues that students should be allowed (and encouraged) to access all of their language resources to build on their existing strengths, exert rhetorical agency, and develop their writing abilities. But a tacit English-only approach to teaching writing in the U.S. prevents this from happening in many mainstream and ESL classes (Horner & Trimbur, 2002). This happens although it is known that not only do students who use multiple languages or varieties draw on all of their communicative resources as they interact with others, often in multiple modes (Cummins, 2007; García & Sylvan, 2011, Piccardo, 2013), but they can also receive significant support for additional language development when they are invited to bring their full repertoires into the classroom (Fu, 2009). The authors propose plurilingualism—and specifically, plurilingual pedagogies—as alternatives to the English-only focus that currently dominates U.S. composition classrooms. They offer key principles of this perspective, drawing on the work of experts on multilingualism, bilingual education, and second language writing. The chapter concludes with an overview of the subsequent chapters in the book, which offer a variety of plurilingual pedagogies for classrooms and programs.