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Sound Writing

Subsection 6.4.1 Identifying as Multilingual

There are many different ways students who speak multiple languages choose to identify themselves. For the sake of this chapter, we will refer to people who speak one or more non-English language as multilingual, as we find it to be a broad term that encompasses many identities. This, by no means, implies that every person who speaks two or more languages will choose to identify solely, or even partially, with the term multilingual, as there are countless other terms used when discussing this topic. Some of the other terms multilingual individuals may choose to identify themselves as includes the following.
List 6.4.3. Terms
English as a second language (ESL) writers
refers to a student who speaks a language other than English as their dominant or primary language. ESL is also more commonly used to refer to academic programs for these students, such as “ESL classes,” “ESL programs,” or “ESL instruction.”
English language learners (ELL)
refers to the same student as above but focuses more on the process of acquiring English as “a learner” rather than the more inflexible designation of an ESL writer. This now more preferred term suggests that the student is in the process of acquiring fluency in the language. Also, this term does not assume that the student is learning English as a second language—it could in fact be their third, fourth, or fifth language.
English as a foreign language (EFL) writers
refers to those students who are learning English in a country where English is not the dominant language spoken by the general population, so for instance, a person learning English in France or Italy would be an EFL student.
Generation 1.5
refers to students who have grown up in the United States (or immigrated to the U.S. sometime during their schooling), and speak languages other than English at home. Generation 1.5 students generally have strong speaking skills in English but may struggle in reading and writing. They differ from international students in that they are familiar with the culture and social norms in the U.S. but are still in the process of gaining mastery of academic forms of English.
Third culture kids (TCK)
refers to children who have lived a large part of their life outside the United States as U.S. citizens. They are often less integrated with the cultural and social norms in the U.S. and may struggle with their sense of identity and home.
Speaker of World Englishes
are speakers around the world who use a variety of English other than standardized forms such as Standard American English. The term draws attention to communication that occurs in English in countries such as India and Singapore where a more “Indianized” or Singaporean variety of English is used to communicate among speakers who speak different first languages.
Many of these terms and acronyms frame language use in relation to English. That is why we like the term multilingualism, as it takes a stance on decentering English.