DOI: 10.58680/rte202332473 ISSN:

Supporting Superdiverse Multilingual International Students: Insights from an Ethnographic Exploration

Qianqian Zhang-Wu
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics

In this study, I draw upon ethnographic methods to explore three multilingual international students’ first-semester linguistic functioning in their college writing classrooms and beyond. Through the lens of superdiversity (), I investigate participants’ experiences beyond their shared membership as Chinese international students and unpack within-group variabilities in relation to their language and literacy backgrounds. The findings indicate that multilingual international students’ varying high school experiences are likely to position them at different acculturative stages for overseas studies; it is crucial to understand their superdiversity beyond the traditional paradigms of supporting “ELLs.” The findings illustrate that superdiversity plays an important role in complicating our understandings of multilingualism and multilingual student support in American higher education. I argue that recognizing and understanding superdiversity is important for both multilingual international students and their teachers. All college educators across the disciplines must go beyond simply acknowledging the existence of superdiversity. Instead, they must explicitly teach it to combat the zero point of English (). This article outlines hands-on pedagogical activities to facilitate new arrivers’ smooth linguistic transition in college and achieve linguistic empowerment by debunking monolinguistic assumptions.

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