Events and Projects Home

Countering linguistic bias and creating linguistically open classrooms

students on brandeis campus

View a recording of our October 12 webinar on this topic here.

As universities have become more linguistically diverse in recent years, questions are starting to be raised about language discrimination on campus and the existence of problematic language ideologies, that is, unspoken and sometimes unrecognized assumptions around languages and language use. Such ideologies impact every level of higher education, from policies for admission, to curriculum and instruction, to academic supports and resources. Yet language is an aspect of diversity, equity and inclusion that is mostly absent from institutional policies seeking to promote these values, including policies at Brandeis University. Indeed, the observation made by American sociolinguist Rosina Lippi-Green in 1994 remains largely true today - that linguistic profiling is "so commonly accepted, so widely perceived as appropriate, that it must be seen as the last widely open backdoor to discrimination."

During the 2022-23 academic year, the Language, Culture and Justice Hub will explore linguistic bias, the dominance of standard language ideologies, and strategies that can be used  to counter these realities in the sphere of higher education.  This focus builds on last year's project Multilingual Life on a Monolingual Campus. A number of Hub members, representing diverse areas of expertise, have been instrumental in designing these programs around language diversity on university campuses.

This year's programs are supported by Brandeis' International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life alongEthics Center logo with the Center for German and European Studies and the Education Program. Funding is provided by the Rice Family Foundation and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD).cges logo

Fall '22 Schedule of Events


Toward Language Justice in Higher Education
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
View a recording of the webinar here.

The goal of this webinar was to explore ways in which linguistic bias, standard language ideologies and monolingual assumptions affect various aspects of higher education. One of the challenges with pursuing linguistic justice at the university level is to balance multilingual ideologies and a linguistically additive approach with the pragmatic and very real linguistic needs of multilingual students from diverse language backgrounds, be they international or domestic students who seek to master the language of the academy.

lukes coverTopics addressed included supporting the transition from secondary school to higher education for linguistically diverse students in both the United States and Germany, language bias and the burdens it creates for international teaching assistants in North America, and the concepts offered by the field of Critical Language Awareness for promoting language equity and inclusion in the university classroom.

Webinar speakers:
Marguerite Lukes, Internationals Network for Public Schools; New York University
Vijay Ramjattan, University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Ingrid Gogolin, University of Hamburg, Intercultural and International Comparative Education
Shawna Shapiro, Middlebury College; Critical Language Awareness Collective

Moderator: Rachel Kramer Theodorou, Education Program, Brandeis University

With a welcome by LeManuel Bitsóí, Brandeis Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion



screen shot of workshop participantsEnacting Language Justice in the College Classroom: an Introduction to Critical Language Awareness
Monday, October 17, 2022 
4:00-6:00 pm via Zoom
This workshop was designed for instructors - both faculty members and graduate teaching fellows - wishing to recognize their own biases around language and find pedagogical approaches for creating a more inclusive classroom environment where diverse languages and varieties of English are acknowledged and valued. Questions explored in the workshop included:

Workshop leaders:
Shawna Shapiro, Middlebury College and the Critical Language Awareness Collective
Marguerite Lukes, Internationals Network for Public Schools and New York University
Rachel Kramer Theodorou, Education Program, Brandeis University


 Spring 2023 programs are currently being planned. Look for updates soon.