Cummins, J. (1984) Bilingual Education and Special Education: Issues in Assessment and Pedagogy San Diego: College Hill
Cummins, J. (1984) Bilingual Education and Special Education: Issues in Assessment and Pedagogy San Diego: College Hill
Effective communication is the root of most, if not all, success within society. Expressing needs and wants, carrying out professional duties, and working out finances with a partner all require standard comprehension of the language in use. The earliest theory that accounts for native language development is behaviorist approach. Skinner (1957), in his book Verbal Behavior, argued that children learn language based on behaviorist reinforcement principles by associating words with meanings; for example, when a child says ‘milk’ correctly, and the mother gives him or her some as a result, the child will find this outcome rewarding, therefore enhancing and reinforcing the child's language development (Ambridge & Lieven, 2011). In essence, using language correctly is positively reinforced when the child acknowledges meaning through his or her words and phrases. In similar ways, we can think about behaviorism and language learning regarding adult ELLs. Adults learning English as a second language seek to be rewarded for their accuracy and successful transition into a new environment via language and cultural capital, but they also seek reassurance from their professors and an expecting American, monolingual public. According to a Huffington Post article, a whopping 72 percent of Americans said it was “essential” for immigrants to learn English (Benedetti, 2016). Here, I will briefly discuss behaviorist theory as it applies to foreign language methodology and how these methods result in greater comfort for the adult ELL.
The behaviorist paradigm is supported by stimuli response chains; this means that a student learns through repeated stimulus-response learning, particularly as developed in Skinner’s operant conditioning model, which considers all “learning to be the establishment of habits as a result of reinforcement and reward" (Wilga Rivers, 1968, p.73). Skinner's account was soon after heavily criticized by Noam Chomsky’s (1965) universal grammar theory. Chomsky argued that children would not acquire the tools needed for processing meaning and syntax if the language acquisition mechanism was dependent on repetition and rewards alone. Although repetitive activities and reinforced behavior are criticized by Chomsky’s universal grammar theory, we can still attest to the fact that, for adult English learning, repetitive activities, and societal and in-class praise is central to second language acquisition. Chomsky’s notions, although ‘damaging’ to the integrity of behaviorism, also play an important part in adult second language learning. The ELL’s ability to access some L2 grammatical patterns depends on noticing similarities in L2’s structure as it relates to L1. For example, a native Spanish speaker will notice English’s syntactic forms by recognizing that English follows the same word order as Spanish’s, this being subject, verb, object.
Practice makes perfect, and repetition is part of the drill
TESOL methodology books often tell teachers not to use drills in in-class tasks. Certainly, there are some negative drawbacks in having students repeating “noise without content”—this comes back to Chomsky’s rejection of behaviorist theory in language learning. However, “oral and grammar drills help build phonetic accuracy over time” (Scrivener, 2011, p.170).
Adults must recognize forms of grammar to consciously make meaning of the words and rules presented to them. The audio-lingual method, which is centered on teaching grammar structure patterns with the help of repetition and reward systems, helps students grapple with language courses that fail to interiorize grammar for writing composition (Fajardo, 2011). The noticing hypothesis ties it all together by stating that through noticing incoming, repetitive stimuli “learners pay attention to the form and meaning of certain language structures in input” and will therefore “contribute to the internalization of grammar rules” (Batstone, 1996, p.273).
Recognition through repetition builds confidence
The seemingly present operant behaviorist sensitivities within these TESOL methodologies make one thing clear: if adult ELLs are capable of detecting grammatical patterns and/or improve accuracy through audio-lingual tasks time and again, then he or she will feel self-sufficient or reach that outcome. Consequently, the reward here is not candy or a glass of ‘milk’ for saying the words correctly; instead, it is praise from professors, peers, and themselves that they are gaining. Self-realization is a strong component of self-propelled motivation. Disappointment in a learning situation dissolves a student’s motivation, causing learned helplessness or amotivation (Igoudin, 2008, p.. If students are to repeat vocabulary words accurately or notice grammatical patterns via tasks that require repetition, then we can expect gradual achievement with each try—this brings forth self-confidence and therefore eagerness to continue learning.
Although behavioral foreign language teaching methodologies are conducive to accuracy and higher levels of motivation and self-esteem, we must keep in mind that the use of various methodologies is crucial for reinforcing form, usage, and comprehension of a foreign language. Ideal task sequencing starts with repetition or pattern noticing and ends with creative output of said grammar and phonetic ‘stimuli.'
Alba is a 41-year old woman who has been living in the U.S for about four years. She’s originally from Bogotá, Colombia and came to this country in 2012 after meeting her now husband (from the United States) and having a child together. Upon coming to this country, she decided she wanted to learn English to better her chances of landing a good job and hopefully start an MBA.
She’s currently enrolled in the EAP program at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus. She came in with a basic knowledge of English and started off the program with a level two in English proficiency; this means she was placed in level two grammar, speech, reading and writing. She began the EAP program in late 2013 and has now just finished level five of the program (April 2016). Next fall, she’ll be taking classes in the last level (level six) of the program, and she’ll be ready to take ENC1101 by next year to hopefully then take the TOEFL, pass, and get into graduate school.
Although a diligent student, Alba struggles with a negative attitude towards learning a second language, specially when it comes to conversational English. She considers herself a perfectionist, and although to many this may sound positive, it does hinder her progress in this area. I’ve worked with her for more than five months now, as her tutor, and I’ve noticed her being resistant towards making mistakes and learning from them if made.
As mentioned earlier, I’ve worked with Alba before, and I know her quite well, academically speaking. She excels when studying English on paper; she studies the concepts but does not apply them in conversation as often as she should.
I did not want my assessment of her speech abilities to feel like an interview, so, instead, I asked her to ask me questions; after I had answered hers, I asked her my own. It was a brief meeting, but I was able to recognize a few grammar and pronunciation issues that were very basic.
Omission of the Subject
In Spanish, the verb tenses change the subject, so saying “I” or “he” or “it” isn’t necessary; this is called the tacit subject, meaning that it’s implied in the verb. The English language requires a subject in it’s structure, even if there is no subject required by the verb. Learners like Alba, who don’t practice English in conversation as often, forget the subject easily. In our interview she said the following:
After translating Alba’s English sentences into Spanish, I realized that she was almost directly translating her thoughts from Spanish to English quite literally. Consequently, she failed to implement the subject in English because it (the subject), in Spanish, is already embedded within the verb. It seemed logical to me to use Spanish sentences, which have a tacit subject, as part of my intervention activity so that she could recognize the implicit subject in Spanish and apply it to her English interpretation. This exercise should make it clear that, in English, the subjects are almost always necessary because they are almost never implicit.
Cual es el Subject?
Below, you’ll find Spanish sentences wth tacit subjects. Before translating these to English, identify the subject, within the Spanish sentence, take note of it, and use it in your English translation.
Formation of Interrogatives in the Simple Past Tense
The usage of the auxiliary verbs in Spanish is commonly found in the passive voice and the compound tenses. The auxiliary verbs do/don’t - did/didn’t, do not have an equivalent in Spanish, and this may be causing confusion for Alba.
For example, in the sentence (rather, question), “What did you eat yesterday?”, "did" is the auxiliary verb. “To do” as an auxiliary verb, does not exist in Spanish. “Did you eat yesterday?” would be translated into Spanish as “¿Comiste ayer?;” the latter literally translates to "You ate yesterday?.” However, the English auxiliary verb “do,” conjugated correctly, is added to form the following: "Did you eat yesterday?” So, the verb “hacer" - to do/to make is not the equivalent of the English auxiliary verb "to do.” "What did you do yesterday?" and "What did you do today?" are translated into Spanish as “¿Qué hicistes ayer?” and “¿Qué hicistes hoy?”, respectively. “Hacer" is used here because, in this case, "What did you do,"
the "did" implies an action.
In our conversation, she said the following:
First, I want to go over the simple past tense sentence structure:
Subject + past tense form of the verb + object
The glass broke.
The child cried.
The old man walked away.
Then, I want to introduce the simple past tense’s interrogatives:
Interrogative sentences in the simple past tense begin with did. Sometimes question words such as who, why, how, where etc., may precede did.
Did the child cry? | Did you go there? | How did you see him? | Why did you break the window? | Did you find anyone there?
Ask it in reverse!
In the following activity, you’ll find simple answers to twelve past tense interrogatives. By keeping in mind the rules above, review each one of these answers and come up with the appropriate question for each one.
Pronouncing the -ED in Past Tense Verbs
Like most Spanish speakers learning English, Alba still has a tough time with the silent -ED in most regular simple past verbs. In my experience, introducing the pronunciation of these verbs to ESL students has always been problematic; mainly, because students observe the added "-ed" as an additional syllable to the spoken word. In the Spanish language, there aren’t that many instances where individual syllables are not voiced. If it is added to the word, the student will try to pronounce it.
In our conversation, Alba used the word “worked” and “stopped,” which she erroneously pronounced them as “work/id/" and “stop /id/“ with two syllables, instead of just one, “work/t/” and “stop/t/.“
First, I would like to go over the three different sounds of the -ED ending /t/, /d/, and /id/
[t] final sound
Verbs ending in voiceless sounds [p, k, θ, f, s, ʃ, tʃ] cause the -ED ending to be pronounced as the voiceless [t] (with no vocal chord vibration).
Listen and Repeat
[d] final sound
Verbs ending in the voiced sounds [b, g, ð, v, z, ʒ, dʒ, m, n, ŋ, r, l] cause the -ED ending to be pronounced as a voiced [d].
Listen and Repeat
[əd] or [ɪd] final sound
Verbs ending in the sounds [t] or [d] will cause the -ED ending of a verb to be pronounced as the syllable [əd] or [ɪd].
Listen and Repeat
This video supplements the lesson:
Match and Say Out loud
There are three different ways to pronounce the -ED ending of a regular past tense verb. It can sound like “/t/”, “/d/” or “/id/.”
In the chart below, place the verbs in the column that matches how the -ED is pronounced in each. As you work your way through the list, make sure to sound out the words out loud by keeping in mind the rules we reviewed—this might help you figure it out!
Identity is commonly defined as "how a person understands his or her relationship to the world, how that relationship is structured across time and space, and how the person comprehends possibilities for the future” (Norton, 2000, p. 5). It can be said that part of understanding the world and our relationship to it is made possible by language; therefore, language plays a significant role in defining one’s identity and the environment surrounding that person. But what happens when there is more than one language involved? Moreover, how does the language acquisition journey in a new environment affect a ‘core’ monolingual identity (if there is such a thing)?
It is known that many SLA theorists have so far “struggled to conceptualize the relationship between the language learner and the social, cultural world” (Norton and McKinney, 2011, p.4), but there’s certainly a connection there; the lack of knowledge between those two entities further disables academics to develop “a comprehensive theory of identity that integrates the language learner and the language learning context” (Norton, 2000, p. 4). And although researchers in the field of psychology have studied and theorized identity extensively for nearly 50 years, there are still no clear derivations of how identity and SLA come together.
Many current SLA researchers have adopted a version of Norton’s (1997) definition of identity (above) which, again, defines identity as how people view themselves in relation to the social world around them; this, of course, brings about the conclusive notion that Norton, with the help of Chris Weedon (1997), finds identity as subjective, and relative to the environment of the agent.
Norton (1997; 2000; 2012), McKinney (2012), Hansen & Liu (1997), specifically, focus on the myriad complexities of identity in SLA; they interested on methodically inspecting how identity and second language learning deal with power relations, and motivation–-all which could potentially elucidate or help build a comprehensible theory of identity that is applicable to the language learner and their SLA journey today. In this paper, I aim to briefly synthesize the components that make up a possible theory of the SLA learner identity. I’ll be focusing on ESL students, specifically those who have emigrated from an ‘underdeveloped country’ to a nation like the United States. I’ll start by giving a brief review of how identity has been thought about in terms of power relations, subjective ideas of self, and motivation as well as the idea of SLA learning as an ‘investment’. The last portion of the paper will give way to a small discussion regarding concerns about the hiring practices within the English language-teaching world.
Many early researchers of identity and language are consistent with humanist conceptions of self in Western philosophy, most which assumed that there’s always a ‘core,’ an authentic, fixed sense of self (Norton and McKinney, 2011). In fact, there’s a strong case for believing that a single defined identity ‘eases’ the anxiety of learning English, and its cultural affiliations, in a classroom and greater target communal environment. In more recent times, poststructuralist ideology and the rise of globalization helped generate ideas of self through the lens of plurality; identity is not seen as one here, rather as a construct that struggles to summon up its various influences and places in which it unfolds.
Weedon (1997) notes that this idea of self is diverse, contradictory, dynamic, and changing over historical time and social space. More precisely, identity is in “constant state of change while being engaged, reshaped, and managed in thought as well as through discourse and interaction” (Weedon, 2004, p. 5). In so far as learning English as a second language goes, though, it is very hard for ESL students to navigate the classroom and greater school environment, and even further, a monolingual society, without engaging in an anxious existential dialogue. Once students experience another culture with frequency, they will never have a sense of a ‘core’ identity—especially if the target language is dominant and a necessary tool for subsistence; in fact, ESL students end up having “two sets (or more) of values derived from the two (or more) cultures and languages” (Qu, 2005, p. 113). In a sense, as Bonny Norton (2012) states, “every time language learners speak, read or write the target language, they are not only exchanging information with members of the target language community, they are also organizing and reorganizing a sense of who they are and how they relate to that particular social world” (P. 5).
Further, as mentioned earlier, ELLs will always be surrounded by various groups, all which differ culturally and linguistically. The ELL’s interaction with a diverse body of people will certainly influence how they perceive their identity as it relates to these groups. According to Hansen and Liu (1997), one’s identity is also derived from group membership. Group membership is dependent on language use and therefore is easily understood in a language-learning context (Hansen & Liu, 1997; Gardner, Masgoret,Tennant & Mihic, 2004; Norton, 2000; Ullman, 1997). By mirroring the language of the interlocutor (a native English speaker), the speaker may be marked as an ‘insider’ while a variation can signify an ‘outsider.’ This means that one’s inability to speak the language ‘accurately’ can exclude one from group membership (McNamara, 1997; Hansen & Liu, 1997).
Logically, to gain in-group status, language learners need to be invested in practicing and fully emerging themselves in the target language’s culture; this is often implicitly required by the social group in which the ELL is trying to fit into. Language proficiency is, then, seen as an indispensable part of acquiring the culture attached to L2. This is directly supported by the notion that higher levels of proficiency embody an ELL’s “ability to use a language effectively and appropriately throughout the range of social, personal, school, and work situations required for daily living in a given society” (Peregoy & Boyle, 1993, p.28). Regarding language ability, Canale and Swain (1980) prefer to use the term ‘communicative competence’ instead of ‘language proficiency’ due to its greater inclusiveness regarding ELLs and the process of acquiring a new language—which again ties in better with the more contemporary notion of multiple identities. ‘Communicative competence’ extends language use to the social conventions of language instead of a more rigid and academically inclined ‘language proficiency.' Either way, the extraneous task of acquiring a new language puts ELLs in a difficult position: they need to practice speaking English but are often excluded from the group because they do not speak the target language fluently.
Levels of ‘communicative competence’ or 'language proficiency', again, could hinder or aid an ELL’s journey for belonging. Language and identity intersect language choice and styling (i.e., code choice, register, genre, accent); such ranges of speech serve as a means to interpret “social information such as group identity: geographic region, language variety, and thus in some contexts, socio-economic status or educational background” (Duff, p. 3, 2012), and therefore explain why such language phenomena like Spanglish is seen as a representation of “language disfluency.” In the eyes and ears of the target social group, those who utilize it have failed to master English. Spanglish, in this case, is a linguistic phenomenon that is commonly labeled a “communicative handicap,” indicative of incomplete language acquisition or language convergence (Ansaldo, 2010). Such thinking, then, sums up the many struggles students go through as they negotiate their ‘knowledge’ of a language and cultural identity that is not entirely theirs—in a sense, these students are in a state of becoming; they’re in limbo, waiting to reach an absolute that they might never fully attain. If looked at through Bonny Norton’s ideas of identity in SLA, an ELL will always be in constant negotiation with various social groups—and this is a tough position to be in.
Identity and Power Structure
“Language choice and attitudes are inseparable from political arrangements, relations of power, language ideologies, and interlocutors’ views of their own and others’ identities. Ongoing social, economic, and political changes affect the constellation, modifying identity options offered to individuals at a given moment in history and ideologies that legitimize and value particular identities more than others.” (Pavlenko & Blackledge, 2004, p.1).
As noted above, language and power relations have a lot to say about one’s identity—especially those who emigrate from an ‘underdeveloped nation’ to a country that possesses economic and political dominance as it stands. As Bourdieu (1991) notes in Language and Power, the value ascribed to speech cannot be understood apart from the person who speaks it, and the person who speaks cannot be understood apart from larger networks of social relationships.
Central to group membership and L2 proficiency is the concept of imagined identities and imagined communities. The concept of imagination, and how it impacts the desire or avoidance of some identities, is primarily informed by Markus and Nurius (1986), Anderson (1991) and Wegner (1998). Their ideas were then further developed by Bonny Norton (2001) in the effort to adapt this concept to SLA identity theory. Markus and Nurius’ (1986) theory of possible selves delves into what an individual wants to become, might want to become, and what they are afraid of becoming; such notions within an individual inform his or her tendencies to avoid or catch on to certain cultural, and in this case, linguistic patterns or systems. Memberships to imagined communities (i.e. the powerful Western English speaking community) are linked to levels of motivation, behavior, and cognition. Anderson’s (1991) notion regarding the role of language as an indication of power presents the idea of imagination as a social process informed by hierarchies of power. More precisely, those in power do the imagining for the laymen and laywomen, offering them a restricted list of identity options and leaving other options ‘unimaginable.' Wegner’s (1998) situated learning theory, then, discusses imagination as that which is imagined as both an individual and social process. In his view, imagining a social group that is far from a person’s own, is a distinct form of belonging. Relating it to ELLs, the act of learning the L2 facilitates them to “locate [themselves] in the world and history, and include in their identity other meanings, other possibilities, and other perspectives” (p.178). These imagined identities might vary from the extremely privileged to the underprivileged. Norton’s (2000) appropriation of both theories presents an interesting view of SLA identity theory. In the work of Norton (2000), this notion of possible selves is what influences a student’s multiple ‘investments’ in learning an L2, and respectably, the different aspects of the target language community(ies) that they are looking to emulate.
In his paper Linguistic Imperialism, Robert Phillipson (1992) argues that native English speakers’ culture and thought processes are based on “a dominant Centre (the powerful Western countries and interests) and dominated Peripheries (the underdeveloped countries)” ideology, along with “linguicism, [which] consists of ‘ideologies, structures, and practices which are used to legitimate, effectuate, and reproduce an unequal division of power and resources... between groups that are defined on the basis of language’” (p.57). In this case, Western English (its accent, register, etc.) and its culture become the ‘apparent’ driving force for economic and social development; this means that ELLs are most likely propelled to learn English by trying to embody what Phillipson calls the dominant Centre culture’s language. Linguistic imperialism is a primary component of cultural and social imperialism, and like racism, linguicism may be conscious or unconscious on the part of the actors (p. 55).
ELLs seeking a more ‘influential’ and powerful social identity can modify their language use to join or keep being a part of the more dominant groups (Gee, 2004). Phillipson’s ideas inform Bourdieu’s (1991) concept of ‘cultural capital,’ which alludes to a form of non-financial social asset that elevates social status when learned. In example, an ELL’s interest in transforming their identity through the ‘positive’ consequences of learning an L2, and its respective culture, is looking to gain the corresponding symbolic and material resources that’ll increase their societal value.
Enacting various ‘selves’ in the process of acquiring a second language requires an examination of motivation. Motivation, as seen through the lenses of SLA identity theory, is more often than not seen through a social construct rather than within the usual psychological context. The construct of investment, first mentioned by Bonny Norton in 1995, “signals the social and historical relationship of learners to the target language, and their often ambivalent desire to learn and practice it” (Norton & McKinney, 2011, p.75). The term ‘investment’ is inherently linked to Bourdieu (1991)’s notion of ‘cultural capital’; in a similar way, Norton ties in notions of financial success and cultural relevance to a learner’s interest in learning the target language. In applying the investment construct, we could identify language learners as susceptible ‘customers.' What I mean by this is that an ELL’s motivation to remain engaged in the learning process may decline or heighten due to the expected and the actual return on their investment. There is an inbuilt difference between the ways we look at motivation regarding intention and the notion of investment as it affects actual behavior in the classroom, however. In a study conducted by Duff (2002) in a classroom with native and non-native English speakers, the teacher’s efforts to get everyone speaking generated unfavorable results for the ELLs. In this specific case, the teacher’s attempt to create a supportive, all-inclusive classroom environment backfired. When asked to speak, the ELLs felt afraid of being criticized or laughed at by their limited ‘language proficiency’ and so they remained silent. The native English speakers, on the other hand, felt that the ELL’s silence was indicative of a “lack of initiative and agency” (p. 312). This, again, takes us back to the notion of group membership; for ELLs to be ‘accepted,' they need to practice speaking English but are often excluded from the group because they do not speak the target language fluently. What this is trying to illustrate is that, although the ELLs are motivated to learn the second language (their interest in being ‘accurate’ in order to fit in the group, for example), they are not completely ‘invested’ in the language practices of the classroom, as they are not consistent with their expectations. Their behavior doesn’t reflect their intentions; “In sum, a learner can be highly motivated to learn a language, but not necessarily invested in a given set of language practices” (Norton & McKinney, 2011, p.75).
Norton’s theory of investment and its effects on motivation differs from Lambert and Gardener’s (1972) ahistorical, non-linear take on motivation and second language acquisition. Lambert and Gardener look at two types of motivation: On one end we have instrumental motivation, which embodies a student who desires to learn the L2 for utilitarian purposes, such as employment, while integrative motivation references the desire to learn a language to successfully integrate with the target language community; both types have been “found to be related to success in second language learning” (Lightbrown and Spada, 2013, p.87). Both types of motivation do acknowledge the learner’s desire to access, and therefore fit into a target community’s linguistic system, yet there is no mention of the multiplicity of desires and identities that are always unfolding as the ELL negotiates their possible selves in the presence of the target social group or others.
Most research concerning hiring practices in EFL (i.e. Selvi, 2010; Ruecker & Ives, 2014; Mahboob, 2009) tells us that approximately 75% of all job ads published online are for NESTs (native English speaking teachers) only. Given these numbers, many language institutions and or programs, abroad and in English-speaking countries, hire teachers that reinforce this imbalanced power dynamic. Job postings for English teachers not only deny most if not all NNESTs (non-native English language teachers), but they also strengthen the negative discourse that works around the ESL community regarding notions of an English teacher’s authenticity via cultural, linguistic, and racial affiliation. The idea of reaching diverse varieties of English threatens this linguistic power that English, as a Western language, holds. Yet it also contradicts this notion that English, as an international language, should be flexible and diverse in hopes that it will connect people from all over. Moreover, “failing to consider the centrality of learners’ identities, as well as issues of power and inequality in the language learning process, will produce an inadequate understanding of SLA, ” (Atkinson, 2011, p.24) therefore, language institutions, as well as public school officials, should hire instructors that not only are capable of teaching a second language in a culturally responsive way but who also speak or are familiar with a variety of Englishes.
Anderson, B. R. (1991). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.
Ansaldo, U. (2010). Identity alignment and language creation in multilingual communities. Language Sciences, 32(6), 615-623.
Atkinson, D. (2011). Alternative approaches to second language acquisition (pp. 73-94). Milton Park, Abingdon: Routledge.
Block, D. (2007). The Rise of Identity in SLA Research, Post Firth and Wagner (1997). The Modern Language Journal, 91, 863-876.
Bourdieu, P., & Thompson, J. B. (1991). Language and symbolic power. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Canale, M., & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical Bases Of Communicative Approaches To Second Language Teaching And Testing. Applied Linguistics, I(1), 1-47.
Duff, P. (2002). The discursive co-construction of knowledge, identity, and difference: An Ethnography of communication in the high school mainstream. Applied Linguistics
Duff, P. (2012). Identity, agency, and second language acquisition. In S. M. Gass & A.
Mackey (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition. New York: Routledge, 410–426.
Gardner, R.C. & Lambert, W.E. (1972). Motivational variables in second language acquisition. In R.C. Gardner & W. Lambert (eds.) Attitudes and motivation in second language learning. (pp. 119-216). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Gardner, R.C., Masgoret, A.-M., Tennant, J., & Mihic, L. (2004). Integrative motivation: Changes during a year-long intermediate-level language course. Language Learning, 54(1), 1-34.
Gee, J. P. (2004). Situated language and learning. A critique of traditional schooling. New York, NY: Routledge.
Hansen, J. G., & Liu, J. (1997). Social Identity and Language: Theoretical and Methodological Issues. TESOL Quarterly, 31(3), 567.
Lightbrown, P. M., & Spada, N. (2013). How Languages are Learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mahboob, A. (2009). Racism in the ELT industry. In A. Mahboob & C. Lapovsky (Eds.) Studies in Applied Linguistics and Language Learning. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press.
Markus, H., & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible Selves. American Psychologist 41 (9), 954-969. McNamara, T. (1997). Theorizing social identity: What do we mean by social identity? Competing frameworks, competing discourses. TESOL Quarterly, 31(3), 561- 567.
Norton Peirce, B. (1995). Social identity, investment, and language learning. TESOL Quarterly, 29, 9–31.
Norton, B. (1997). Language, identity, and the ownership of English. TESOL Quarterly, 31(3), 409-429.
Norton, B. (2000). Identity and language learning: Gender, ethnicity and educational change. Harlow, England: Longman.
Norton, B. (2013). Identity and language learning: Extending the conversation. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
***This post was originally posted on the Inturact blog.
Clients don’t just come to you; they do their research—and a lot of it. They are looking for results in your past projects. While testimonials are a solid way to show them your value as a company, case studies do so differently; they show tangible results and processes.
An effective case study illustrates real-life examples of how you were able to satisfy your client’s needs and goals. Case studies are also a great way to boost your authority in your industry. Ultimately, an impressible case study should make the prospective client want to hire you.
Here are some tips and examples on how to prepare extensive but fun and powerful case studies (or repurpose the ones you already have). Check them out below:
1. Know Your Buyer Persona
The hardest part here is picking out the one client you’ll want to do a case study on. It's essential to determine which buyer persona you’ll be targeting. Will it be Oil & Gas Executives or SaaS Business Owners? Always look at your project repertoire and pick from all successful projects.
When you are trying to target a buyer persona who is at the top of the funnel, you’ll want to impress with results and knowledgeable explanations.
When determining which industry you want to focus on, think of the following:
If you answered yes to all, then you must go ahead with that industry. Once you're certain on the buyer persona you want to build case studies around, don't forget all the aspects of SEO so this audience can find you when they begin their online research.
2. Design With Purpose
No one likes a colorless, long piece of text. Make your case study pop with:
By giving the piece a little visual variety, you’ll make it more accessible to the reader by breaking it up this way.
3. Talk Strategy, Talk Numbers
Empty claims won’t sell. If you’ve ‘doubled’ conversion rates, you need to show some tangible examples. Even if your potential clients are entrepreneurs, be sure to display numbers (and explain them) in a clear and concise way. It’s best to use the ‘show and tell’ tactic, meaning that you should first show the numbers, and then explain the process you went through to get to those numbers.
4. Designate A Place For Them
What’s the point of having great case studies if no one will ever find them? Generating a tab for only case studies is a good idea. If not, making a blog post out it, like we did, works well too.
Idea: Tying all your case studies into a neat eBook, will serve as a great 'portfolio' for future pitch meetings.
5. Repurpose Your Old Case Studies
If you already have case studies, consider repurposing them by converting them into:
These are fun ways to not only attract other potential clients, but also gain a more insightful look at the already existing information.
Want to see what we do for our clients? Send us an email or comment below, and we'll share their case studies with you.
Or get started on your SMART marketing goals to plan what kind of case studies you want to create.
*This blog post was originally written for Inturact.
Did you know that Spanish is, by far, the most spoken non-English language in the U.S.? According to Pew Research Center, 34.8 million people nationwide today are of Hispanic descent and speak Spanish at home. Another Pew Research Center study published in a 2013 article revealed that 78% of Spanish speakers go online frequently on mobile devices, desktops, and laptops – up from 64% in 2009. Those numbers are expected to increase substantially within the next few years.
With statistics like that, you’d better believe that your business’ success depends on digital content that speaks to a multi-cultural public!
Translated website content and advertising collateral will allow you tap into the vast Spanish-speaking market in the U.S. and abroad. For businesses looking to go that extra mile and have a competitive edge, bilingual websites, landing pages, or online ad campaigns present great opportunities to attract a whole new demographic and build trust over time. After all, you are looking to build connections with as many people as possible, right?
If you need some more convincing, here are four reasons why translation or bilingual copywriting services can increase your sales and strengthen your brand.
1. Embark on New Horizons
You already have stellar content that delights and attracts new customers. But given that the Spanish-speaking population is the third largest in the world and the second largest in the U.S., there is still new territory to cover. The translation of current content is an inexpensive investment to gain an expansive new audience.
2. Keep Your Future Customers in Mind
You have to speak their language in each and every way. As a business, you want to make sure that the content on your website connects with your audience in every way possible—you want to get everything right. From understanding the statistics and trends to the facts and everything else in between, you must know your target buyer’s persona. It becomes a simpler task to do when you only have to consider one language, but when it comes to two or more, it is important to consider it in terms of the culture (or cultures) that correlate with your audiences of choice.
Trying to communicate your message to someone from Venezuela living in Miami and simultaneously trying to speak to a person from Mexico living in Los Angeles is a tough job. It takes an expert to determine which words and contexts from your original copy will translate (it’s not just about the words). Transliteration is often the right path to take. A professional will take the context and words of your original message and create new copy that delivers your message with your buyer personas, their cultures and cities of residence in mind.
3. Building Trust and Brand Recognition
Taking the time to craft well-informed content makes your company credible and trustworthy. If you want to build a clientele of Spanish speakers, you'll have to understand the various cultures and vernaculars that belong to the Spanish language. Once you start publishing high quality content in a language different from yours, you’ll be recognized as an entity that has an interest in connecting with broader audiences on a deeper level.
Potential customers feel more comfortable getting involved with companies that take the time to learn and speak their languages. If they have to do all the work to try and understand you, they’ll be less likely to buy your product.
Show them that you care and they’ll stick with you.
4. Search Engines and SEO - Not Just for English Speaking Websites
By having your content in two languages (or more), you’ll not only make long-lasting impressions and connections, but you’ll also appeal to search engines.
Key search engines like Google, are developing the capacity to run searches in other languages too. Having pages of your site available in Spanish will give you an edge over the ones that don't. This means that the possibilities of your business reaching the top of the search engine results pages will become exponentially larger.
And what greater way to get rid of repetitive copy than having content that conveys your message in a different language, eh?
New territory means new visitors; new visitors mean better rankings; and better rankings mean that more of your clients find you—it doesn't get better than that!
But wait, translations might not be for everyone.
While translations aren't cookie-cutter marketing solution that works for every business. Your company may not be at the growth stage, or have the target market, to benefit from website translation. For instance, if you’re a one-person operation and don’t speak Spanish, then investment in Spanish content isn’t such a great idea (how are you going to answer the phone?). Hiring Spanish-speaking employees might be a solution for some businesses, but translation still only makes sense if your product can fit a wider market.
So, what kinds of companies should be considering English-to-Spanish translations then?
Larger companies that already have bilingual employees are missing out on an important, profitable opportunity if they’re only catering to one language. If you have the resources to present your product or service to a multi-lingual public, then there is tremendous growth potential at your fingertips! One thing we know for certain is that the global market is becoming smaller due to the ever-increasing accessibility of businesses online. When you become able speak to more of these users, you gain the competitive advantage.
Ask us about translating your website into Spanish today! In the meantime, you can check out Inturact's Spanish site, here.