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 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, educational linguistics, and seminars in global education and inquiry-based research. I have previously taught Spanish linguistics, research methods, second language acquisition, and Spanish and Portuguese language courses.

Selected Publications

Back, M., Han, M. & Weng, S.-C. A. (2020). Emotional scaffolding of emergent bilinguals through translanguaging strategies: Case stories. Language and Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/09500782.2020.1744638.

Back, M. (2020). “It is a village:” Translanguaging pedagogies and collective responsibility in a rural K-8 school district. TESOL Quarterly.  https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.562

Back, M. (2020). Interlocutor differences and the role of social others in a Spanish peer tutoring context. In L. Gurzynski-Weiss, (Ed.) Interlocutor individual differences in language learning: Theoretical and empirical approaches (100-123). John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.53.05bac

Back, M. & Wagner, M. (2020). Languages for all: World languages for meaning-making and intercultural citizenship. In B. Dupuy & K. Michelson (Eds.), Pathways to Paradigm Change: Critical Examinations of Prevailing Discourses and Ideologies in Second Language Education (pp. 176­­­–198). American Association of University Supervisors, Coordinators, and Directors of Language Programs (AAUSC).

Back, M. (2019). World language teachers performing and positioning agency in classroom target language use. In H. Kayi-Aydar, A. Gao, E. Miller, M. Varghese, & G. Vitanova, (Eds.), Theorizing  and Analyzing Language Teacher Agency (pp. 101-120). Multilingual Matters.

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. Available at https://opencommons.uconn.edu/facpubworks/1/

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). 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.

Contact Information
Phone860 486 1636
Mailing AddressUnit 3033
Office LocationGentry 412
Office HoursBy appointment
CoursesEDCI 5890: Educational Linguistics, EDCI 5830: Curriculum Laboratory, 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, EGEN 4110: Seminar in Student Teaching