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Students come into college classrooms from varied home communities, many of which use registers quite different from academic English. How do we honor students’ home languages or dialects, yet develop their fluency in academic language? Hybrid texts offer one approach to bridging the gap.
How can hybrid texts help students learn academic discourse? Why might hybrid texts not be a useful approach? In what situations might they be more useful or less useful? What is a hybrid text in the first place?
Dialect. (2004). In A dictionary of sociolinguistics. Retrieved from
Students may come into a classroom with a background in another language, or even in different dialects of the same language. A working definition of the term would be useful.
Register. (2004). In A dictionary of sociolinguistics. Retrieved from
Likewise, academic register differs from other registers. A working definition of this term would be useful as well.
Theory and Scholarship
Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). The dialogic imagination: Four essays. Austin, TX: University of Texas
I did not read this book by press time (I had read parts of it before.). I mention it here because Bakhtin’s work has informed some of the other works I cite. For an actual paper I would need such foundational works.
Behling, L. L. (2003). “Generic” multiculturalism: Hybrid texts, cultural contexts. College
English, 65(4), 411–426. doi:10.2307/3594242
This article looks at a different type of hybrid discourse, one which blends genres. Behling likens contact between genres to contact between cultures. In fact, her examples come from authors of different cultures. As hybrid genres show us new ways to interpret texts, they offer new ways to articulate hybrid identities.
This article would pertain to my topic in that it deals with intercultural contact and language. At the same time it problematizes my definition of a hybrid text.
Henze, R. C., & Vanett, L. (1993). To walk in two worlds: Or more? Challenging a common
metaphor of native education. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 24(2), 116-134.
Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291548-1492
Since my topic relates at least somewhat to bilingual education, I searched for articles critiquing bilingual education. In the process I found this article that unpacks the “navigating two worlds” metaphor of bilingual education. The metaphor assumes, for example, two monolithic, distinct cultures, when cultures are not completely homogeneous. Also, cultural contact means that some blending has already taken place.
Henze and Vanett do not actually oppose bilingual education. They do support an awareness of how complex students’ cultural worlds actually are. They advocate involving the cultural community in decision-making as well. Who is better qualified than the community itself to teach the children its traditions? The article, though a little dated, raises this useful question, among others.
Lillis, T. (2011). Legitimizing dialogue as textual and ideological goal in academic writing for
assessment and publication. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 10(4), 401–432.
This article from the U.K. could nonetheless apply to U.S. classrooms. Lillis emphasizes writing as a dialogue. She believes that this dialogue need not be limited to the writing process: the actual text can reflect the dialogue as well (p. 410). Allowing this type of activity would enrich academic writing (p. 406). She writes of academic language and other language, instead of academic language or other language (p. 408). Thus the discussion is still relevant, though it does not focus on linguistic minority students.
Like McCrary Lillis models a hybrid text (what she calls a juxtaposition) and mentions Bakhtin. As this piece references Bakhtin more heavily than does the McCrary piece, I want to re-read Bahktin in order to have more of a theoretical grounding.
McCrary, D. (2005). Represent, representin’, representation: The efficacy of hybrid texts in the
writing classroom. Journal of Basic Writing, 24(2), 72–91. Retrieved from
McCrary not only writes about hybrid texts but also writes this article as a hybrid text. Thus he offers a model for the concept. He proves that the author need not sacrifice readability in creating a hybrid text. In fact he cautions hi students to keep their readers in mind.
He has students read and engage with hybrid texts (His mention of particular texts is an added resource.). When they write their literacy autobiographies, the students are encouraged to use hybrid discourse, as long as Standard English is one of the languages used. McCrary requires Standard English not to privilege it, but to facilitate academic communication.
Sánchez, D. M. (2010). Hip-hop and a hybrid text in a postsecondary English class. Journal of
Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(6), 478–487. doi: 10.1598/JAAL.53.6.4
The author looks at a single student’s analysis of a hip-hop text. In his analysis the student critiques society, as students are expected to do in academe. Thus Sanchez argues for a strengths perspective in working with transitional writers (p. 430).
As early as 1974 the Conference on College Composition and Communication argued for acceptance of students’ home dialects: the author cites the formal document (p. 436). Referring to the document in 2010 speaks to the duration of the argument.
Sanchez notes that she cannot generalize from a single case study and that she herself is an outsider to the African American community (p. 430). The disclaimers add credibility to the work.
Keil, C. (2002). Making choices about voices. Composition Studies, 30(1), 62–63.
Keil discusses three writing voices: poetry (one’s most private thoughts), home community prose, and “King’s English” (standard academic and professional English). This essay does not directly address hybrid texts. Still, it speaks to my topic in that it values each voice equally in its proper setting.
Rodriguez, R. (2003). Aria: A memoir of a bilingual childhood. In D. McQuade & R. Atwan (Eds.),
The writer’s presence (4th ed., pp. 221-237). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
While McCrary sees the need to bring home community registers into the classroom, Rodriguez calls for keeping the two types of language separate. Though he appreciates the beauty of home languages, he sees the need to learn the dominant language in order to avoid isolation. For this contrasting viewpoint alone the essay would be important to read. Additionally the essay links my questions to the larger issue of bilingual education.