Professor of Second Language Education
Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania)
Curriculum and Instruction
Room 228 PeikH
159 Pillsbury Dr S E
by appt. please email me for current google calendar appt. slots
Areas of Interest
My scholarship seeks to narrow the (language) education gap by (1) documenting how languages are lost (and how they can be revitalized); and (2) analyzing the policies and practices that best support minority language learners.
Schools play a crucial role in determining the life trajectories of minority language students as well as the future of minority languages. My current research attempts to contribute to the field’s understanding of the ways that schools can help support indigenous and minority language learning.
Minneapolis is home to thousands of immigrant and refugee youth, some of whom arrive to the U.S. with limited English skills and few experiences in formal classroom settings. Together with UM professor Martha Bigelow, I have documented how these students engage with English language academic content and acquire literacy skills in their first months here (Bigelow & King, in press; 2014). This research documents how first language literacy (e.g., Somali) serves as a powerful resource for students, helping them not only to learn in their academic classes, but to promote English language and literacy development, all of which are crucial for closing Minnesota’s achievement gap.
My work highlights students’ first languages as an academic resource. This research also has directly impacted Minnesota state policy. For example, in 2014, I helped to formulate and build support for new legislation that promotes multilingual approaches for English language learners (known as the ‘Learning for Academic Proficiency and Success’ Act, or ‘LEAPS’), which passed in 2014. This advocacy work builds the policy foundation for approaches to teaching immigrant and refugee students in ways that produce optimal long-term academic outcomes, support multilingual development, and promote educational equity in Minnesota and beyond.
My current research extends this work in Minneapolis Public Schools, where I work with teachers and administrators to support and implement more multilingual approaches to teaching and learning.
Download the Native Language Literacy Assessment (NLLA) below under publications.
Over the last two decades, my scholarship has addressed ideological, interactional and policy perspectives on second language learning and bilingualism, with particular attention to educational practices impacting language use among Indigenous populations in Latin America and Spanish and Somali speakers in the U.S. Overall, this work addresses two broad questions. First, which practices, policies, and programs best facilitate minority language development and maintenance? And second, which pedagogical, policy and interactional approaches best serve minority language students (Hornberger, 1995)? In addressing these questions, I have examined classroom-home-community contexts of linguistic contact, language use and identity production in the rural Andes and urban centers of Chile, Sweden and the U.S. More recent projects have examined transmigration, parenting practices, and Spanish/Quichua/ English language learning and use in Washington D.C., Minneapolis, and Saraguro, Ecuador, and the relationship between (im)migration status, second language learning, and school engagement. At the University of Minnesota, I teach graduate-level courses in sociolinguistics, language policy, language research methods, and language education and also coordinate the undergraduate TESL minor.
What student can expect from me
My undergraduate and graduate students can expect me to be highly responsive to their work and enthusiastic about a wide range of linguistics topics. My goal is to help all students be professionally and academically successful in their chosen area of work. I encourage students to email me and visit me during office hours with questions and project ideas. In addition to teaching foundation courses for undergraduates, I regularly supervise undergraduate research projects, and I aim to co-publish at least one academic paper with each of my Ph.D. advisees. I expect students to take the initiative on co-authored projects, and especially later in their program, to play a driving role in completing projects. I expect my graduate students to fully participate in the intellectual and academic life of our program, department and university.
Helen C. Bailey Alumni Award (for outstanding contributions to the field of education), 2016 University of Minnesota Imagine Fund Annual Award, 2014
Eslamdoost, S., King, K.A. & Tajeddin, Z.** (in press). Professional identity conflict and (re)construction among English teachers in Iran. Journal of Language, Identity and Education.
Fu, S. & King, K.A.** (2019). Data disaggregation and its discontents: Discourses of civil rights, efficiency and ethnic registry. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education.
King, K.A. & Bigelow, M.* (2018). East African transnational adolescents and cross-border education: An argument for local international learning. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 38, 187-193.
Vanek, J., King, K.A. & Bigelow, M.** (2018). Social presence and identity: Facebook in an English language classroom. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 17 (4), 236-254.
King, K.A. & Bigelow, M. ^ (2018). The language policy of placement tests for newcomer English learners. Educational Policy, 32 (7), 936-968.
Bigelow, M., Vanek, J., King, K.A., & Abdi, N.** (2017). Literacy as social (media) practice: Refugee youth and native language literacy at school. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 60 (Sept), 183-197.
King, K.A. & Lanza, E.* (2017). Ideology, agency, and imagination in multilingual families: An introduction. International Journal of Bilingualism. doi.org/10.1177/
Native Language Literacy Assessment, December 2016