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 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. The revised and updated English version, Racialization and Language: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Perú, is now available from Routledge. Other areas of research include notions of identity and agency in target language use; globalizing world language curriculum; and perspectives on teacher identity as expressed in a recruitment program for world language teachers.

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

Selected Publications

Back, M., & Zavala, V. (Eds.) (2018). Racialization and Language: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from PerúNew York, NY: Routledge. Routledge Studies in Sociolinguistics.

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.)

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