Educating Adolescent Newcomers in the Superdiverse Midwest: Multilingual Students in English-centric Contexts

Author: Brian David Seilstad

Related Formats:
Paperback, Hardback, Ebook(PDF)
Multilingual Matters
Number of pages:
234mm x 156mm
Price: £20.00
Price: $35.00
Price: €25.00

This book juxtaposes superdiversity with the reality of English-centricity in the United States, set against the long-standing challenges regarding migration and language policy in the US, most recently underlined by Donald Trump's 2016 election win and subsequent aggressive and partially successful attempts to limit migration. The book explores the history, policies, and practices of an adolescent newcomer program in Central Ohio, in the US Midwest, that seeks to provide an equitable and engaging education to its students. It addresses, on the one hand, positive, progressive institutional responses, including an embrace of translanguaging and a willingness to acknowledge and build on students' languacultural backgrounds. On the other hand, the book explores the effects of inconsistent, inefficient and sometimes nonsensical patterns in these responses. The book analyzes student outcomes and argues that, although some students are well-served by the program, tensions in the program lead to uneven, and even troubling, behavior and results, ranging from poor academic performance to dropping out. Finally, the book addresses ongoing evolutions and debates to the program and their potential to realize the program's aspirations.

Noteworthy in this compelling book are Seilstad's practical suggestions for building students' home language skills, applying translanguaging strategies in classrooms, and attending to the socio-emotional needs of immigrant and refugee teens. He thoughtfully challenges us to decenter English and focus more on supporting students' languacultures to enhance equity and effectiveness.

Deborah J. Short, President, TESOL International Association

This book offers an intimate look into the daily realities of language, life, and learning across social differences within a newcomer school today. I recommend it for educators and scholars trying to unpack the complexities of policies and practices for teaching young people from a wide range of linguistic backgrounds in asset-based ways.

Sarah Gallo, Rutgers University, USA

This fascinating and engaging ethnographic study of an educational program for multilingual, newcomer youth in the Midwest demonstrates the indivisibility of language and culture, the persistence of English-centricity, and the ways that assessment practices undermine pedagogical approaches premised on linguistic pluralism.

Lesley Bartlett, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

Brian David Seilstad is Dean of Global Engagement at American Academy of Casablanca, Morocco. His research focuses on the fields of service-learning, language education, and the educational intersections of culture, migration and society.

Tables and Figures


Chapter 1: Tensions Between Superdiversity and Translanguaging, English-Centricity and 'Mainstream' in the Education of Adolescent Newcomers

Chapter 2: An English-centric Program with Multilingual Margins

Chapter 3: Students and Outcomes

Chapter 4: Aspirations for Better Program Futures


Methodological Appendix



Postgraduate, Research / Professional
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