Public Engagement

General Public

CANCELLED: Language & Social Justice TALKS: Yumi Matsumoto

Monday, December 11, 2017 at 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm

Bob and Sheila Hoerle Lecture Hall, Room UL105, University Center 63 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003

This event has been cancelled due to speaker illness.  It will be postponed to the Spring.


Join us for the first in a series of public talks designed to provide a space for open dialogue, and examine the relationship between language, identity, and social justice.

Language & Social Justice TALKS: Guest Speaker Yumi Matsumoto (Assistant Professor, Educational Linguistics | University of Pennsylvania)

Non-native speakers versus users in English as a lingua franca contexts:

Multimodal analysis of multilingual classroom interactions in a U.S. university through an ELF lens

Have you ever thought about the possible negative effects of categorizing English language learners as “non-native speakers”? I begin this presentation with an anecdote about my English accent and academic language socialization, highlighting my struggle to gain legitimacy as an English speaker (Widdowson, 1994). I also discuss how the concept of English as a lingua franca (e.g., Jenkins, 2000, 2012; Seidlhofer, 2004, 2011) empowered me as a user of English and as a multilingual researcher working in the field of Applied Linguistics.

The rest of this presentation unfolds in three parts. First, I introduce various conceptualizations of English as a lingua franca (ELF) that have been developed over the past few decades, illustrating how the concept itself has changed in response to our increasingly multilingual world. Although some (e.g., Phillipson, 1992) have argued that English, as a powerful, dominant language, may negatively impact other minority languages in the world, interlocutors in ELF contexts do not necessarily abandon their own linguistic and cultural backgrounds or identities. Instead, speakers in ELF scenarios strive to successfully achieve mutual understanding through English while maintaining and appreciating their diverse linguistic and cultural identities (e.g., Matsumoto, 2011).

In the second part of this talk, I discuss my latest research on academic discourse in ELF contexts (Matsumoto, forthcoming) in a U.S. university to illustrate the analytical power of ELF. ELF offers a more egalitarian perspective on multilingual classroom interactions than English as a second language (ESL) approaches, which typically compare learners with so-called native speakers. My study qualitatively examined multilingual students’ collaborative phenomena, which I call “third-party participant assistance,” in multilingual writing classrooms. I used multimodal, sequential analysis along with ethnographic information to illustrate the detailed process by which third-party participants (students who were not originally involved in miscommunication but later actively joined the sequences) voluntarily helped resolve miscommunication by sharing their interpretations and representing their peer’s point of view.

In the final part of my presentation, I consider some pedagogical implications of findings from ELF miscommunication research (e.g., Pitzl, 2010; Matsumoto, forthcoming). Specifically, I argue that we should think about miscommunication sequences as meaningful interactional spaces for negotiating differences and achieving understanding rather than treating them as communicative hindrances to be avoided. Reconceptualizing miscommunication in this way is relevant for both language teachers and students who must manage intercultural communication in ELF classroom contexts. I also suggest that more research on ELF academic discourse (e.g., Björkman, 2013; Mauranen, 2012) in various geographical contexts (especially in the U.S. and Africa) is necessary to prepare English teachers with a mindset for interacting effectively with students from various linguacultures in multilingual classrooms.

Yumi Matsumoto is an assistant professor in the Educational Linguistics division at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. She received a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include English as a lingua franca, intercultural communication, gesture and L2 learning/development, multimodality, and roles of materials in L2 classrooms. She has published articles in The Modern Language Journal, TESOL Quarterly, Language Learning, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, Journal of English as a Lingua Franca, and Teacher Development.

Language & Social Justice TALKS is sponsored by the Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MA TESOL) Program at The New School.

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Event Type

Lectures and Panel Discussions


General Public


International and Global, Education and Learning


Schools of Public Engagement, School of Languages


English Language Studies, TESOL, Education, Schools and Universities


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