Michele Back

Assistant Professor, World Languages Education

Expertise: Spanish, Quechua varieties, Portuguese, Second Language Acquisition, Discourse Analysis, Identity


My research focuses on how educators and learners negotiate and construct identity and pedagogy in transcultural, translingual contexts. I use ethnographically informed, close discourse analysis methods to look at these issues among multilingual speakers and learners of Spanish, Quechua varieties, and Portuguese. I am also interested in the role of different communities of practice on language learning, use, and maintenance. My first book, Transcultural Performance: Negotiating Globalized Indigenous Identities (Palgrave MacMillan, 2015), examined how a group of Andean folkloric musicians and their families negotiate language, gender and ethnicity in globalized spaces. My second book, Racismo y lenguaje [Racism and Language] (Fondo Editorial PUCP, 2017), co-edited with Professor Virginia Zavala of Peru’s Catholic University, is a multi-authored work analyzing discursive practices of racism in Peru from educational, political and social media perspectives. An English version is coming soon. Another current area of my research focuses on how world language teachers position their and their students’ agencies when using the target language in the classroom.

I currently teach methods of world languages instruction, as well as courses in second language acquisition and educational linguistics. I have previously taught Spanish linguistics, research methods, and Spanish and Portuguese language courses.

Selected Publications

Zavala, V & Back, M. (Eds.) (2017). Racismo y lenguaje [Racism and language]. Lima, Peru: Fondo Editorial PUCP.

Back, M. (2016). Symbolic competence in interaction: Mutuality, memory and resistance in a peer tutoring context. L2 Journal, 8, 3, 1-22.

Back, M. (2016). Epistemics and Expertise in Peer Tutoring Interactions: Co-Constructing Knowledge of Spanish. Modern Language Journal 100, 2, 1-14. DOI: 10.1111/modl.12334. 

Back, M. (2015). Transcultural Performance: Negotiating Globalized Indigenous Identities. Bristol, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, Language and Globalization Series.

Back, M. (2013). “They say I’m like that but they don’t know me”: Transcultural discourses of masculinity. Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 9, 2, 104-118.

Back, M. (2013). La Orquesta: Symbolic performance in a multilingual community of practice. The Modern Language Journal 97, 2, 383-396.

Back, M. (2013). Using Facebook data to analyze learner interaction during study abroad. Foreign Language Annals 46, 3, 377-401. Video abstract/discussion of this article available here.

Back, M. (2012). Positioning language proficiency: Interactions with a multilingual indigenous Ecuadorian.pdf. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice 6, 1, 1-22.  (Note: This article has a 2009 publication date in the journal, even though it was published in 2012. Apologies for the confusion.)

Back, M. (2011). Legitimate peripheral participation and language learning: Two Quichua learners in a  transnational community. Language Learning, 61, 4, 1039-1057.

Contact Information
Phone860 486 1636
Mailing AddressUnit 3033
Office LocationGentry 420
Office HoursBy appointment
CoursesEDCI 5890: Educational Linguistics, EDCI 5094: Seminar in World Languages Education, EDCI 5095: Advanced Seminar in World Languages Education, EDCI 4205W: Methods of World Language Instruction, EDCI 3125: Introduction to Methods of World Languages Instruction and Clinic