Strangers and Professionals: Positioning Discourse in ESL Teachers' Work

Mari Haneda, Jan Nespor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


English Language Learners (ELLs) usually spend most of the school day with regular classroom teachers. The ability of English-as-a-second-language (ESL) teachers to help these students, then, depends in part on their ability to influence how the classroom teachers think of ELL students and ESL itself. One way ESL teachers do this is through "positioning discourses"-discursive practices that connect the children in certain ways to neighborhood reputations, political imagery, policy priorities, and professional responsibilities. This paper examines how ESL teachers in two contrasting school systems produce different kinds of positioning discourses in responding to different contextual constraints and pressures. Drawing on interview data, we show how teachers in an urban setting use elements of neighborhood reputation to position their students, while teachers in a more affluent suburb use discourses of expertise and professional knowledge to reshape the way ESL is understood. Our goals are to explicate how these discourses are produced and used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-272
Number of pages22
JournalUrban Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Urban Studies


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