The myth of linguistic homogeneity in U.S. College Composition

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


In "English Only and U.S. College Composition," Bruce Horner and John Trimbur identify the tacit policy of unidirectional English monolingualism, which makes moving students toward the dominant variety of English the only conceivable way of dealing with language issues in composition instruction. This policy of unidirectional monolingualism is an important concept to critique because it accounts for the relative lack of attention to multilingualism in the composition scholarship. Yet it does not seem to explain why second language issues have not become a central concern in composition studies. After all, if U.S. comp osit ion had ac cepted t he policy of unidirectional monolingualism, all composition teachers would have been expected to learn how to teach the dominant variety of English to students who come from different language backgrounds. This has not been the case. While Geneva Smitherman and Victor Villanueva argue that coursework on language issues should be part of every English teachers' professional preparation (4), relatively few graduate programs in composition studies offer courses on those issues, and even fewer require such courses. As a result, the vast majority of U.S. college composition programs remain unprepared for second language writers who enroll in the mainstream composition courses. To account for this situation, I want to take Horner and Trimbur's argument a step further and suggest that the dominant discourse of U.S. college composition not only has accepted "English Only" as an ideal but already assumes the state of English Only, in which students are native English speakers by default.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCross-Language Relations in Composition
PublisherSouthern Illinois University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)0809329824, 9780809329823
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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