Authenticity and Legitimacy in Multilingual SLA


  • Claire Kramsch University of California, Berkeley


multilingualism, monolingualism, SLA, authenticity, bilingualism, semiotics, applied linguistics, native speaker


After problematizing the authority of the native speaker in second language acquisition research, applied linguists are now questioning the very notion of standard national language as an appropriate object of study (Canagarajah 2007; Cenoz and Gorter 2010). More important than learning the elements of one whole symbolic system, they argue, is the necessity of learning to move between languages and to understand and negotiate the multiple varieties of codes, modes, genres, registers, and discourses that students will encounter in the real world. It is also necessary to take advantage of the increasingly multilingual composition of language classes and to draw on the students’ multilingual competences, even if they are learning a single language. Moving between languages, however, not only requires a symbolic competence that still needs to be operationalized in the traditionally monolingual communicative language classroom (Kramsch 2009), but it raises questions about the authenticity and the legitimacy of the multilingual speaker. This paper explores the new faces of authenticity, legitimacy, and language use in multilingual contexts.

Author Biography

Claire Kramsch, University of California, Berkeley

Kramsch is Professor of German and Affiliate Professor of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. She is recipient of multiple awards including the Goethe Medal from the Goethe Institute in Weimar for her contributions to cross-cultural understanding between the United States and Europe, the Distinguished Service Award from the American Modern Language Association, and the Faculty Distinguished Teaching Award from UC Berkeley. She has published extensively on language, discourse, and culture in applied linguistics. Her most recent monograph The Multilingual Subject was published with Oxford University Press in 2009.