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Martha Bigelow

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Professor, Department Chair
Ph.D. (Georgetown University)

Tel: 612-624-7087

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Download Curriculum Vitae [PDF]

Areas of Interest

Second language acquisition, schooling experiences of adolescent immigrant youth, preservice language teacher education, multicultural education

Research Interests

My research interests span fields of education, applied linguistics, and cultural studies. While I have focused mainly on the language learning and schooling of adolescent refugees from East Africa, I am deeply invested in the schooling of all language learners as they learn in home, community and school settings. I am also interested in teacher education experiences and classroom pedagogies that support equity and access in education.

  • The multilingualism and multiliteracy of immigrant and refugee youth
  • The role of native and second language literacy in the acquisition of second language oral skills
  • The intersection of race, religion, gender and ethnicity among Somali youth
  • Somali youth’s experiences with racialization in school and community settings
  • The educational needs of adolescent English language learners with limited formal schooling
  • Making out-of-school connections to classroom learning for immigrant youth (funds of knowledge and culturally relevant pedagogy)
  • The role of education policies in access to education for adolescent immigrant youth with limited formal schooling


  • Associate Editor, Modern Language Journal
  • American Association for Applied Linguistics


  • 2020: Charles A. Ferguson Award for Outstanding Scholarship
  • 2018: Harold B. Allen Award, MinneTESOL
  • 2011: Multicultural Faculty Award, College of Education and Human Development
  • 2010: Recipient Matthew Stark Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Faculty Award
  • 2008: Distinguished Teaching Award, College of Education and Human Development
  • 2007: Co-recipient of the Heinle & Heinle TESOL Distinguished Research Award for the following paper: Bigelow, M., delMas, R., Hansen, K., & Tarone, E. (2006). Literacy and the processing of oral recasts in SLA. TESOL Quarterly, 40(4), 665-689


  • Bigelow, M. & Engman, M. (Eds.) (2020). Doing indigenous language reclamation. Editor’s introduction to Perspectives, Modern Language Journal, 104(2). Position paper and commentaries, 480-525.
  • Bigelow, M. (Ed.) (2019). Emotion and language teaching. Editor’s introduction to Perspectives, Modern Language Journal, 103(2). Position paper and commentaries, 515-544.
  • Bigelow, M. (Ed.) (2018). Seeing religion in language teaching contexts and in language learning processes. Editor’s introduction to Perspectives, Modern Language Journal, 102(2), 431-432. Position paper and commentaries, 432-462.

News Stories

University of Minnesota - “Research Brief: Social media's impact in an English language classroom”

Oct 4, 2018


Selected Publications

  1. Books

    Warriner, D., & Bigelow, M. (Eds.) (2019). Critical reflections on research methods: Power and equity in complex multilingual contexts. Bristol, Blue Ridge Summit: Multilingual Matters.

    Bigelow, M., & Ennser-Kananen, J. (Eds.).(2015). Handbook of Educational Linguistics. New York City: Routledge.

    Bigelow, M. (2010). Mogadishu on the Mississippi: Language, racialized identity, and education in a new land. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Tarone, E., Bigelow, M. & Hansen, K. (2009). Literacy and second language oracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  2. Recent Articles

    King, K., & Bigelow, M. (2018). East African transnational adolescents and the symbolic meaning of place: An argument for local international learning. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 38, 187-193. #Vanek, J., King, K., & Bigelow, M. (2018). Social presence and identity: Facebook in an English language classroom. Journal of Language, Identity & Education. DOI: 10.1080/15348458.2018.1442223.

    King, K., Bigelow, M., & Hirsi, A. (2017). New to school and new to print: Everyday peer interaction among adolescent high school newcomers. International Multilingual Research Journal: Special Issue entitled Exploring Peer Interaction among Multilingual Youth: New Possibilities and Challenges for Language and Literacy Learning. DOI: 10.1080/19313152.2017.1328958

    Bigelow, M., Vanek, J., King, K., & Abdi, N. (2017). Literacy as social (media) practice: Refugee youth and home language literacy at school. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, Special issue: Cultural and Academic Adjustment of Refugee Youth in Educational Settings.

    Ennser-Kananen, J., Escobar, C. F., & Bigelow, M. (2017). “It’s practically a must”: Neoliberal reasons for foreign language learning. International Journal of Society, Culture & Language, 5(1), 15-28.

    King, K. & Bigelow, M. (2016). The language policy of placement tests for newcomer English learners. Educational Policy, 1-33. DOI: 10.1177/0895904816681527

    Fallas Escobar, C., Ennser-Kananen, J., & Bigelow, M. (2016) Monetary and career based motives at the core of EFL programs: Problems and solutions/Programas de Inglés como lengua extranjera basados en fundamentos económicos y profesionales: Problemas y soluciones. GIST Education and Learning Research Journal, 12, 152-173.

  3. Recent Book Chapters

    King, K. A. & Bigelow, M. (2020). The hyper-local development of translanguaging pedagogies. In E. Moore, J. Bradley, & J. Simpson (eds.) Translanguaging as transformation: The collaborative construction of new linguistic realities (pp. 199-215). Tonawanda, NY: Multilingual Matters.

    Bigelow, M. (2020). The case of a Somali teenage girl with limited formal schooling: Seeing assets and poking holes in deficit discourse. In A. Cooper & A. Ibrahim (Eds.). Black immigrants in the United States: Essays on the politics of race, language, and voice (pp. 77-91). New York: Peter Lang, International Academic Publishers.

    King, K. & Bigelow, M. (2019). The politics of language education policy development and implementation: Minnesota (not so) nice? In T. Ricento (ed.) Language politics and policies: Perspectives from Canada and the United States (pp. 192-210). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Bigelow, M., Cushing-Leubner, J., Hang, M., Ortega, L., Shanafelt, A., Pergament, S., Allen, M. (2019). Perspectives on power and equity in CBPAR projects. In D.  Warriner, & M. Bigelow (Eds.). Critical reflections on research methods: Power and equity in complex multilingual contexts (pp. 184-198). Bristol, Blue Ridge Summit: Multilingual Matters.

    Lewis, C. & Bigelow, M. (2019). Mobilizing and languaging emotion for critical media literacy. In R. Beach & D. Bloome (eds.), Languaging relations across social worlds in educational contexts (pp. 216-234 ). New York, NY: Routledge.

    Bigelow, M., & Collins, P. (2018). Bilingualism from childhood through adolescence. In A. De Houwer & L. Ortega (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of bilingualism (pp. 36–58). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Selected Presentations

  1. Bigelow, M. (October, 2020). Literacy and multilingualism with African Diaspora youth: Intersections of race, culture and language. Alberta TESL, Edmonton, Canada. (Virtual)

    Bigelow, M. (October, 2019). The intercultural and the interpersonal in world language teaching: Changing the world one class at a time. Taipei Tech International Conference on Applied Linguistics. Taipei, Taiwan.  

    Bigelow, M. (August, 2019). Engaged research at the intersection of language and education. VI Congreso Internacional de Lingüística Aplicada, UNA, Herredia, Costa Rica.

    Bigelow, M. (March, 2018). What can we learn about ELT through classroom research? The Professor Sita Udupa Endowment Lecture at Ethiraj College for Women, Chennai, India.