Michele Back

Associate Professor, World Languages Education

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

Curriculum and Instruction (EDCI)

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