“My language counts!”: Supporting multilingual learners in our online learning spaces.

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Presenters will provide data from research at their college revealing a confidence gap in language abilities between multilingual and monolingual students. Since confidence is an affective challenge in online learning for multilinguals, presenters will share a survey that instructors can use to make one of their courses more linguistically inclusive. 

Extended Abstract

In Collaborations and Innovations: Supporting Multilingual Writers across Campus Units, the authors argue that the way in which “…academic communities deal with resources and create responses to the language issues ... in [college's] increasing multilingual environments [indicate] the level of commitment to the learning goals set for students and the institutional missions” (DeJoy and Quarshie Smith, 2017). In an effort to make a commitment to and raise awareness for linguistic diversity on campus, these researchers shared the results of the study that gained the attention of administrative and student leadership.  Consequently, this laid the foundation of the institution’s commitment to support multilingual students. Now is the time to take the next step DeJoy and Quarshie Smith call for, which is “…to create contexts for and productive responses to the realities around language use in institutions of higher education in the U.S.”  

The purpose of the presentation is “to create context” for attendees by sharing the data conducted at their college, revealing the unique language challenges multilingual students face in the classroom. Results will focus on the gap in confidence between multilingual students and monolingual students in their perceived abilities in speaking, listening, reading and writing.  Confidence is an underlying affective challenge that impacts student success, and online learning can exacerbate those challenges. Presenters will explain two avenues they pursued to create “productive responses” to address multilingual students’ needs in an online learning environment.  Presenters will share one of their “productive responses”: A survey tool to gather data on students’ language, cultural and educational background.  Presenters and attendees will brainstorm how this data from the survey can inform instructors’ decision-making for their online classes to be more culturally and linguistically inclusive. In turn, these ideas can help lower the affective filter, can increase engagement and raise confidence in multilingual students in an online learning environment. 

The goal of this presentation is to provide attendees with the knowledge and space to reflect on how they can take action to enhance their own curricula. This process will appeal to individuals who work (directly and indirectly) with multilingual learners.  In addition, this experience will help attendees understand how to embed linguistically inclusive practices at their institutions that suit the needs of multilingual students on their campus.  Ultimately, “by creating context for and responses to” the linguistic needs of their students, attendees can strengthen the notion of linguistic diversity as an asset.  Attendees can inspire others at their educational institutions to embrace and value linguistic diversity to enhance their online learning climate. Presenters will create a space for attendees to discuss how the survey shared by the presenters can be applied to and support their online classes. Attendees will have some time to collaborate, share ideas and resources, and support each other, as each considers how to respond to the “increasingly multilingual environments” on their respective campuses to help multilingual students lower their affective filters and to increase their engagement and academic success.   

Presentation Roadmap: Presenters will share the results to a survey administered to all students enrolled in English courses during the Spring 2018, Fall 2018, and Spring 2019 semesters at Madison College, focusing on the results revealing a confidence gap between monolingual students and multilingual students.  Presenters will discuss the connection between how online learning can exacerbate the confidence gap and introduce ways to lower the affective filter in online learning environments and improve comfort level and student engagement – leading to greater student success. Participants will be asked to reflect on one of their classes and see ways on how to make it more culturally and linguistically inclusive.