An art of being in between: The promise of hybrid language practices

Brendan O'Connor, Layne J. Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


While bilinguals frequently mix languages in everyday conversation, these hybrid language practices have often been viewed from a deficit perspective, particularly in classroom contexts. However, an emerging literature documents the complexity of hybrid language practices and their usefulness as an academic and social resource for bilingual students. This chapter examines hybrid language practices among English- and Spanishspeaking high school students in an astronomy/oceanography classroom in southern Arizona. Microethnography, or fine-grained analysis of video recordings from long-term ethnographic observation, is used to reveal what bilingual students accomplished with hybrid language practices in the classroom and to outline implications for teachers who want to engage their students' hybrid repertoires. Specifically, the analyses reveal that careful attention to hybrid language practices can provide teachers with insights into students' academic learning across linguistic codes, their use of language mixing for particular functions, and their beliefs about language and identity. The research is necessarily limited in scope because such in-depth analysis can only be done with a very small amount of data. Nevertheless, the findings affirm that hybrid language practices can enrich classroom discourse, academic learning, and social interaction for emergent bilinguals. The chapter highlights a teacher's story in order to offer practical guidance to other teachers who seek to capitalize on the promise of hybrid language practices in their own classrooms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-173
Number of pages25
JournalAdvances in Research on Teaching
StatePublished - 2015


  • Hybrid language practices
  • Language mixing
  • Linguistic repertoires
  • Microethnography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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