Using the Mother Tongue as a Resource: Building on a Common Ground with "English Only" Ideologies


  • Andrea Parmegiani Bronx Community College (CUNY) and North-West University (South Africa)


translanguaging, bilingualism, learning communities, academic literacy, multilingualism, Writing Studies


This paper seeks to offer a constructive critique of the idea that in order to align US writing instruction with the learning needs of a globalized, linguistically diverse population, writing studies should challenge the notion that the English language needs to play a central role in college composition courses. I point out rhetorical and pedagogical fallacies in a language rights discourse that warns against “ceding rhetorical ground to monolingual ideologies” (Flowers 33) by affirming writing studies’ commitment to ensuring access to English while promoting linguistic diversity within writing instruction. I then discuss a translingual writing program I started at a Hispanic Serving Institution that links ESL and Spanish writing courses within a learning community. I discuss how the implementation of this program relied on finding a common ground with “English only” ideology and show how this program disrupted “unilateral monolingualism” (Horner and Trimbur 595), in spite of the fact that it foregrounded the need to facilitate English academic literacy acquisition.  

Author Biography

Andrea Parmegiani, Bronx Community College (CUNY) and North-West University (South Africa)

Andrea Parmegiani is Associate Professor of English at Bronx Community College of the City University of New York and Extra-Ordinary Professor at North-West University, Faculty of the Humanities, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa. His research explores language inequality in South Africa and the U.S., with a focus on academic literacy in higher education. His book Using ESL Students’ First Language to Promote College Success (Routledge) is based on the Spanish-English link discussed in this article.  




How to Cite

Parmegiani, A. (2022). Using the Mother Tongue as a Resource: Building on a Common Ground with "English Only" Ideologies. Literacy in Composition Studies, 10(1), 25–45. Retrieved from