Language Ideologies and Curriculum Studies: An Empirical Approach to 'Worthwhile" Questions


  • Aria Razfar


For four decades critical modes of curriculum inquiry have inspired and informed new theoretical directions toward thinking about 'worthwhile' questions, Ideology and their relevance toward understanding social inequities and the educational disparity between dominant and non-dominant populations. However, in recent years, the viability and relevance of these modes of inquiry have been questioned on the basis of language accessibility and other 'practical' considerations which threaten to make curriculum inquiry as a field 'moribund.'  In this conceptual paper, I argue for a grounded approach to the 'worthwhile' questions and in particular the notion of Ideology in curriculum inquiry. More specifically, I propose the language ideologies (LI) approach as a way to foreground many of the 'worthwhile' questions surrounding Ideology in an empirical, hence more 'practical' manner through the prism of 'language' and its extension: discourse and narrative analysis. Using the discourse analytic approach afforded by LI, I illustrate my case with multiple vignettes from studies of classroom discourse, interviews with teachers about contested language issues (i.e. bilingual education & African American Vernacular), and historical debates surrounding the status of languages other than 'Standard' English in the United States.

Author Biography

Aria Razfar

Aria Razfar is an Assistant Professor of Literacy, Language, & Culture at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research focuses on English language learning across the life-span and multiple contexts of development. He draws on sociocultural and critical theories of language and learning. He has published extensively on the topic of language ideologies and its implications on learning, instruction, and policy. His most recent work on the topic appears in the journals of Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, Human Development, and Linguistics & Education. He is director of Transforming Literacy, Science, & Math through Action Research (LSciMAct), funded by the U.S. Department of Education. He can be reached at






Cultural Studies and Curriculum