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Language Ideologies of Multilingual Learners in an Intensive English Program

Madhur Shende, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Despite some rises and falls in the numbers due to various reasons, including the political climate in the Trump era and the COVID-19 pandemic (Laws & Ammigan, 2020), each year universities in the United States host a large number of multilingual international students from different parts of the world. Based on their TOEFL scores, many are required to enroll in an accelerated course of study in academic English, commonly known as the Intensive English Program (IEP) before they can begin their mainstream academic programs. Where there is language, there are language ideologies. Yet, often in monolingual, English-only classrooms, little is known by the instructors and, at times, by the learners themselves, about their linguistic and cultural repertoire and its potential influence on their language learning. This multilayered qualitative analysis explores the language ideologies and conceptualizations of multilingual learners in an IEP. Focus group interviews were conducted with ten multilingual international students from an IEP classroom in a large Big R1 University. The themes that emerged from the data include ideologies about multilingualism and English, language teaching and learning, raciolinguistic experiences, and also the participants’ practice and ideologies pertaining to translanguaging. A critical metaphor analysis was also conducted to explore the participants’ subconscious conceptualizations about language. This analysis reveals the differences in the participants’ conceptualizations of their mother tongues (predominantly LANGUAGE AS A PERSON or LANGUAGE AS A FOOD) and their conceptualizations of English (predominantly LANGUAGE AS AN OBJECT/SUBSTANCE). The study highlights the ways in which the language ideologies of multilingual learners in the IEP influence their acquisition of English, the importance of celebrating their multilingualism and offers an insight into how they use their multilingual repertoire to learn English. The work concludes with practical implications for supporting multilingual learners in IEPs.

Subject Area

Education|Multicultural Education|Higher education|Linguistics

Recommended Citation

Shende, Madhur, "Language Ideologies of Multilingual Learners in an Intensive English Program" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI30488410.