“You’ll never be as good as the white kids in their language”: using Young Adult fiction to explore language discrimination in schools. Dr Ian Cushing & Mr Anthony Carter

This UKLA funded, teacher-researcher study will explore how Young Adult (YA) fiction might be used as a vehicle for exploring language discrimination, with a particular focus on Key Stage 3 students in England’s schools.

Through stylistic and multimodal text analysis, workshops with students, interviews with authors and artist’s illustrations, it seeks to answer the following question:

In what ways might contemporary YA fiction be used as a vehicle for understanding, describing, exploring and resisting structural language discrimination?

Our aims are:

  • To explore how young readers at KS3 might use contemporary YA fiction as a vehicle for exploring, understanding and interrogating language discrimination.
  • To move beyond thinking about language discrimination as individualistic toward an understanding based on structural and intersectional forms of discrimination. 
  • To combine analysis of literary texts, students’ reader-responses and interviews with YA authors.
  • To work with artists who report lived experiences of language discrimination and use students’ responses to literature as prompts for creating art and illustrations.
  • To develop, in collaboration with students, teachers, authors and artists, a ‘toolkit’ for identifying where and why language discrimination occurs – and for exploring ways of addressing it – which can be taken up and used by educators in a range of contexts.

The project began in January 2021 and will run for 12 months. We hope to present initial findings from Summer 2021 onwards. 

Download and read the full project information below.

Read Cushing & Carter’s paper here: Using young adult fiction to interrogate raciolinguistic ideologies in schools

Please contact the Principal Investigator, Dr Ian Cushing, for further information [ian.cushing@brunel.ac.uk]


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