Talk at Leiden University Centre for Linguistics

Today I give a talk for the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics. The talk, ‘Moving across languages and learning traditions’, will be in 16:00 – 17:00 in Eyckhof 3/005. I will present my research on the social and cultural patterning of language learning in three multilingual African communities. In the late 1990s I was a visiting scholar in African Languages and Linguistics at Leiden University, and I am excited to see old friends and hear about the exciting work they are doing now.

NIAS Workshop

NIAS workshop smallI spent the past few days in a workshop, Children seen and heard around the world: A multidisciplinary cross-cultural approach to video data of family life and child development. Professor Judi Mesman (Centre for Child and Family Studies, Leiden University) organized this international workshop with 17 researchers from the fields of child and family studies, anthropology, and linguistics to present their available video data sets and their perspectives on the data sets. We are working toward the creation of an international multidisciplinary network that will facilitate sharing video data, and integrating our perspectives, forming collaborative alliances for future projects, and producing multidisciplinary scientific output.

NSF AISL Pathways Grant

My COSI partner Jen Cassidy and I have been awarded an NSF Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) Pathways Grant for our project ‘Expanding Repertoires of Practice: Improving Informal Science Learning Experiences for Dual Language Learners‘. In this project, we will collaborate with 8 other science centers and children’s museums and their community partners to begin the systematic study of informal science education programs and practices for reaching and serving preschool dual language learners. The project includes three interconnected activities: (1) a national needs assessment of children’s museums and science museums, (2) a two-day, in-person convening and quarterly virtual meet-ups of museum-community teams, and (3) an exploratory study of informal science programs and experiences at COSI and in early learning centers in Central Ohio. The overarching goal is to advance the knowledge and awareness of needs and practices related to informal science programming for preschool children who are learning English as an additional language.

Talk for VU’s Anthropology of Children & Youth Network

On Friday, November 14th I will give a talk, ‘Moving across languages and learning traditions’ in the monthly seminar of the Anthropology of Children and Youth Network at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. I present an overview of my research on the social and cultural patterning of children’s language learning in communities whose members use multiple languages and participate in multiple learning traditions. The seminar is in room Z-007, the Metropolitan Gebouw.

AAA Panel on Language and the Immigrant Experience of Children and Youth

I just participated in a double panel, ‘Language and the Immigrant Experience of Children and Youth’ at the 2013 Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Organized by Inmaculada M. García-Sánchez (Temple University) and sponsored by the Society for Linguistic Anthropology, the panel brought together language ethnographers to examine the experiences of immigrant children and youth (Somali, North African, Vietnamese, indigenous Mayans, Romanians, Turkish, Iranian, Mexican) in an integrated fashion and in a number of cross-cultural settings. My paper “Making African storybooks culturally relevant and culturally marked in a Kindergarten classroom in a Somali-centric school” examines the use in read alouds of storybooks that depict Africa and Africans in Kindergarten in a charter school that serves primarily the children of Somali refugees who have resettled in a large US midwestern city.

Language socialization and the future of Anthropology of Education

Teachers College Columbia is hosting a conference On the Future of Anthropology in Schools of Education this coming weekend, October 18 and 19. With Patricia Baquedano-López (UC Berkeley), Inmaculada García Sanchez (Temple), Kathryn Howard (California State University, San Bernardino), and Laura Sterponi (UC Berkeley), I have co-authored a paper, “Exploring the intersection of language socialization research and the anthropology of education”. Our paper is part of the session ‘Open Roads: Renewed Possibilities‘ (beginning at 0:36:40).

Video for speech language therapists on working with Somali families

Sirad Shirdon, one of my doctoral students, recently produced a narrated slideshow video for the 2012 American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) conference on cultural considerations in working with Somali families. Check it out at and spread the word to any speech and language therapist you know.

Shirley Brice Heath at OSU

Ethnographer of family life Shirley Brice Heath will be at OSU to give a talk, ‘Special-Interest Learning: The new best friend for education leaders?’, as well as to participate in other, smaller events with faculty and students of the School of Educational Policy and Leadership and the School of Teaching and Learning. The talk and panel discussion, part of the Karlsberger/Charters Lecture Series, take place 11-12 am on Tuesday, May 8 in the College Commons, Ramseyer Hall 260. Professor Heath is the author of Words at work and play: Three decades in families and communities (Cambridge, 2012) and the classic Ways with Words: Language, life, and work in communities and classrooms (Cambridge, 1983/1996).

Symposium: Reference in Interaction from a Cross-Cultural Perspective

OSU is hosting a symposium on reference to objects, space, time, and location, as well as the role that prosody and gesture play in referential work in oral discourse. Invited speakers will present research on aspects of reference in conversation in various languages. The main goal of this symposium is to provide a forum for the contributors to share their recent findings and to discuss interdisciplinary questions of language use and cultural variability of human sociality. I will present on reference in Fulfulde in Qur’anic schooling and folktale telling/teaching/learning. The event is organized by Carmen Taleghani-Nikazm (OSU) and Andrea Golato (U of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) and is sponsored by a College of Arts and Sciences Research Enhancement Award. For more information, go to the symposium website.

Blackwell Handbook of Language Socialization is here!

The Handbook of Language Socialization is out. Edited by Sandro Duranti, Elinor Ochs, and Bambi Schieffelin, this volume is the 37thin the prestigious Blackwell Handbooks in Linguistics series. In chapter 9, ‘Language socialization and repetition’, I discuss patterns in and insights from language socialization research that has taken repetition as an analytic focus. I examine 4 practices of repetition – revoicing, prompting, guided repetition, and language play. I then discuss repetition-related findings from studies conducted in contexts of second language socialization and religious socialization. I conclude with a discussion of how attention to repetition in socializing interactions expands and enriches our understanding of the nature of communicative competence, its development over time and across texts and contexts, and the active and sometimes transformative role of the novice in socialization processes.