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This final section discusses the implications of this activity for writing instructors. It provides some theoretical framing as well as a series of practical considerations for teacher-scholars interested in implementing this or a similar activity in their classrooms, and suggests next steps for future research and development.


Skeptics have expressed doubts about the relevance of unpacking language politics for most students in the composition classroom when, as one colleague of ours stated, we “have enough to worry about in the classroom without trying to address the specific concerns of a very few international students.” As real as such concerns are to a population of instructors overwhelmed with so much excellent research and practice to consider, the common assumption that students with multiple language resources are a minority in U.S. classrooms is being increasingly challenged not just by the globalization that brings more nationally and linguistically diverse students into our classrooms, but also by the increasing recognition of multiple linguistic resources within supposedly monolingual populations (Matsuda, 2006). The same can be said of students with disabilities in our classrooms, who are not only increasingly present but also increasingly visible in our research and pedagogy (Zdenek, 2011).

While a translingual approach is theoretically welcome among writing teachers because it resists standardization and monolingualism, it may still be considered idealistic at the practical level of teaching writing. Recognizing that the kind of anxiety our colleague expressed is significant, I hope to have demonstrated how an accommodating, flexible approach to language can draw on the resources of diverse language experiences in all students, and I argue that a translingual approach is becoming more pragmatic for students, who will benefit not from a rejection of a monolithic, monolingual standard but an embrace of critical knowledge that involves a greater understanding than mere mastery of standard conventions affords (Horner, Lu, Royster, & Trimbur, 2011).

Further, I hope that this classroom activity will demonstrate how bringing in a translingual approach is accessible to even self-identified monolingual teachers and students with limited classroom resources. While I hope that scholars will build on this activity and incorporate a translingual pedagogy throughout their curriculum, readers should also note that the captioning activity described in this webtext was conducted in the course of one class session and could do important work even in that limited time.

For those teacher-scholars who wish to implement such an activity in their classroom, I provide the following materials and recommendations:

1. The film Raising Arizona (Coen & Coen, 1987) is easily available at any video rental store or online video hosts. The clip used and discussed here is the opening scene, which means it is easy to cue up and also does not require previous knowledge of the film to be comprehensible.

2. Freeware such as Google Docs and Google Forms can also be used to collect captioning and reflection responses. These applications were found to be very useful and user-friendly in collecting and sharing anonymous student responses for this activity.

3. As mentioned in the activity description, students also viewed and responded to a clip from Inglourious Basterds (Lawrence & Tarantino, 2009) during this activity, which broadened the scope of language difference to include non-English languages. Though the results of this aspect of the activity are not explored here, teacher-scholars are encouraged to use films such as Inglourious Basterds to discuss representation of non-English languages more explicitly.

4. This activity does not explicitly address the interests and concerns of disabled students (although my 2011 article in Currents does to a greater extent). As mentioned earlier, though, I see an attention to the diversity of student bodies as aligned with an attention to the diversity of students' linguistic resources. In this way, I see this activity and webtext as intersecting usefully with projects in disability studies that expand and trouble our sense of "the" student population in terms of their experiences and resources. I hope that other scholars will take up this opportunity to explore not only the utility of a rhetorical approach to closed captioning for hearing-impaired audiences but also the larger intersections between disabilities studies and translingual pedagogies suggested here.

5. Finally, I want to encourage teachers to consider having students rewrite captions towards different political ends. In other words, if this activity were part of a larger translingual curriculum, students might be asked not only to reflect on the ways their captions engage with normative Standard Edited English expectations, but also to rewrite their captions in ways that actively reject or subvert that standard. An example might be to caption English as "other" in the ways demonstrated in the study's introductory video. Students might not only feel empowered by their ability to "other" academic English, but they might also reflect on a deeper level about what is normative and push themselves to question the standards in productive ways through such an activity.


In sum, I hope that readers will take up the opportunity to use closed captions to interrogate language practices in their classrooms, but I also hope that teacher-scholars will build on the activity presented here to further interrogate our assumptions about our student and civic audiences in multimodal forums such as closed captioning.

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