UW-Madison Student Voices: Languages and Linguistic Variation

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

This video is of “student on the street” interviews about multilingualism and linguistic variation on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Consider the questions below as you watch the clip.  

How do the students in the video talk about language?

  1. How does Jacob talk about linguistic diversity at UW-Madison? 
  2. Fatima said that she learned that she “had an accent” from interacting with other people when she came to UW-Madison. How does Fatima describe the way that people at UW-Madison react to her accent?
  3. Vanessa said that she usually uses AAVE (African American Vernacular English), and that she adjusts her language in conversations with professors. How does Vanessa describe the way that she changes how she speaks when talking with professors? How does Vanessa explain her reason(s) for doing that? 
  4. How does Rolla describe the ways that she feels about using English on campus? 

How do you think about language(s) and linguistic diversity on the UW-Madison campus? 

  1. What do you think it means to “have an accent”? What might it mean to think that you either do or do not have an accent?
  2. Do you ever shift or change the way that you use your language(s), based on the situation or people you’re interacting with? Why?
  3. Have you ever felt judged or have you experienced discrimination based on the way you use your language(s)? Have you ever witnessed other people’s language use being judged?
  4. What role do(es) your language(s) play in your communities on campus? Have you experienced a sense of belonging due to the language(s) you use?
  5. How do you think your academic or professional performance may have either suffered–or benefitted–because of the way you use language(s)?

Would you like to share your answers to these questions with the Language Ideologies and Linguistic Discrimination working group? You can do that here.

If you want to deepen your understanding of language ideologies, check out these key concepts. Interested in learning more? Here are a few select resources.

Watch the video on Kaltura Mediaspace.

This video was a project of Martiniano Etchart, a doctoral student in Second Language Acquisition and Spanish Linguistics. The video was envisioned and created with the Language Ideologies and Linguistic Discrimination group, with funding through the Language Institute. Video production was by UW-Madison student Ken Wang and by Erika Schock with the L&S Instructional Design Consortium. Peter Kleppin with University Communications consulted on the project and provided video footage of campus scenes. Language Institute director Dianna Murphy provided project oversight.