Faculty Details

Honors Faculty/Staff Details

Manka Varghese (College of Education)

Varghese, Manka (College of Education)

Manka Varghese (College of Education)
Email: mankav@uw.edu
Website: https://education.uw.edu/people/faculty/mankav

The major substantive areas in which I have taken a lead in my scholarship are teacher identities/teacher education for multilingual youth and multilingual youth and postsecondary transitions. In doing this work, I uniquely and simultaneously developed and contributed to an interdisciplinary approach and knowledge base in multilingual education that integrates historically separate disciplines. These include Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Applied Linguistics, Bilingual Education, Multicultural Education, Social Justice Education, and Critical Pedagogy.

My most significant work in multilingual education has been to raise the profile of the field of language teacher identity, now a prominent national and international subarea of scholarship. In addition to demonstrating how, as LM teachers go through their professional development and their classroom teaching, they are engaged in the making of their professional identities, I have most notably shown how teachers for LMs go beyond their classroom-specific roles and see themselves as agentive, both as advocates for children and families and as language policy makers. My research, along with my institutional context and role have lead me to investigate more closely the development of language teacher identity through teacher subjectivity and the intersections of race and language. Similar to my empirical approach in teacher education and teacher identities, I have sought to examine multilingual student backgrounds and their lives within school and college in order to provide guidelines and suggest policy implications, and have increasingly brought a stronger critical lens and approach to this work. As an ESL teacher and well before joining the faculty at the University of Washington, I was particularly concerned about the teaching and learning pathways of language minoritized youth in high school and college and the dearth of research in this area.

Teaching and learning in multilingual settings is not only a US phenomenon but one that has parallels in other countries in the world. More specifically, the ways that racial and other identities intersect with multilingual teaching are of international significance. I have been invited to speak about this topic in relation to language teacher identity and education in Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Canada and various U.S. based conferences and most recently in Colombia, and Hong Kong.

In recent work, I explore these perspectives through a study of immigration, race, language and schooling based in Italy. Two products based on this work have been a co-authored 2012 article in International Journal of Multicultural Education (IJME) and a book project I am currently working on entitled Raciolinguistics, Migration, and Schooling in Contemporary Italy. In this book, I aim to blend my personal narrative as an immigrant of color, growing up in Rome and my current understandings of the pathways of LM youth. These include perspectives that view pedagogical and systems-based approaches as deeply embedded in intersectional ideologies and practices of language, race, and immigration in schools.

My current research projects include the following: 1) I am focusing on studying the development of dual language teachers through an National Professional Development grant awarded by the Department of Education for which I am the P.I. and which is providing both scholarships for dual language teachers in the elementary teacher education program (ELTEP) in the college and specific preparation for these teachers as well as helping to create shifts within ELTEP. Recently, I have received funding (as a Co-PI) with colleagues in the college for a five year McDonnell foundation grant to conduct research around these teachers' asset-based discourses in literacy and science. I have also been the lead faculty in ELTEP in classes specific to multilingualism and has lead the creation of a focus on identity, race and language and their intersections within the program.  2) In another Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Research and Practitioner Partnership (RPP) grant for which I serve as the P.I. with Seattle Public Schools, we are partnering with them to examine both quantitatively and qualitatively their middle school to postsecondary data on students designated as English Learners (EL): Project PIMSELA: Partnering to Investigate Math and Science English Learners’ Access and Achievement (2017-2019). Due to my findings in previous work and existing gaps in scholarship, we are specifically focused on understanding how race may intersect with EL status in postsecondary pathways as well as the differences in services and supports within schools.  In particular, we are interested in relationships between Math and Science course-taking patterns and postsecondary pathways

A distinctive analytical contribution of my work is my use of sociocultural, raciolinguistic, and poststructural frameworks to understand pathways of learning and identity formation of multilingual teachers and youth. I initially ventured outside the confines of linguistic analysis and the traditions of my formal preparation to draw on sociocultural frameworks that use relevant anthropological and sociological constructs. These mainly address how identities of multilingual teachers and youth are formed and learning happens within the duality of agency and structure: how as individuals and groups students and teachers can “make things happen” within structural opportunities and constraints. Drawing on the concepts of structure and agency (Giddens) and capital (Bourdieu) in my early work, I showed how these professional identities were being created as teachers’ own backgrounds were interacting with ideologically contested and resource-scarce spaces. Although I initially drew on similar concepts to understand multilingual youth’s postsecondary pathways, in my recent work I have also expanded my understanding of agency, structure, and capital to include non-traditional forms of capital which such as community cultural wealth. In the process, I became increasingly interested in conceptualizing the agency of both teachers and youth, although I have always framed agency not in terms of individual willpower but closely associated with the resources/capital that teachers and youth have access to and draw upon. In order to center race and language in teacher identity more distinctly, I have, in recent work, drawn on critical frameworks such as poststructuralism and raciolinguistics to examine power and subjectivity in teacher identity.

Instructor's Honors Course History

Course Title
HONORS 397 D Working towards Justice: A mindful and compassionate approach 2021 2 21360 View »
Honors 384 B Reenacting German and American Identities: Honors Study Abroad to Germany preparatory seminar 2015 2 14858 View »



Return to faculty list