Patricia Duff


Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

After exile: heritage language and literacy socialization across three generations in one Chilean-Canadian family (2021)

Global migration is increasingly driven by experiences of extreme social, political, economic, and environmental adversity (UNHCR, 2019)—experiences which become part of families’ personal and cultural narratives. However, such narratives are routinely marginalized in formal learning contexts (e.g., Campano, 2007; Marshall & Toohey, 2010), even though they may constitute a key part of students’ identities and connection to the language/s and culture/s of their heritage (Avineri, 2019; Becker, 2013, 2014). In recent decades, modern language education scholars have begun to call for the more explicit integration of historical and political knowledge when conceptualizing culture in language teaching (Byram & Kramsch, 2008; Freadman, 2014), but it appears that the field of heritage language education has yet to enter these conversations. Guided by theories of language socialization (Ochs & Schieffelin, 1984, 2017), syncretic literacy (e.g., Duranti & Ochs, 1996), and difficult knowledge (e.g., Pitt & Britzman, 2003), in this year-long ethnographic case study, I examined the language and literacy socialization of difficult cultural knowledge across three generations in one Chilean-Canadian family: the Calfus (pseudonym). The grandparents had come to Canada as refugees in the 1970s fleeing the Pinochet regime in Chile. Their grandchildren (ages 7 and 9) were learning their heritage language at home and in a Spanish-English bilingual program at school. I used thematic (Saldaña, 2013) and narrative (Ochs & Capps, 2001) methods to analyze data from multiple sources, including interviews, audio recordings, field notes, and photos of student work. I also examined how adults made use of IRE (initiation, response, evaluation) routines to manage difficult historical topics when talking with children. Overall, the analysis demonstrated the salience and significance of difficult cultural knowledge in the Calfu family’s language and literacy socialization practices outside of school, the children’s dynamic and shifting sense of imagined transnationalism, and the ways that Indigenous identities can be eclipsed by Hispanic identities in Spanish language programs (e.g., Calderón & Urrieta, 2019). Nevertheless, the children consistently demonstrated highly creative and agentive ways to claim authorship and ownership of their difficult cultural knowledge. The study has significant implications for teaching heritage language learners in post-exile contexts.

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Transnational long-term learners of Chinese as peer mentors: language socialization, online learning, and identity (2021)

The “mentor/mentee” relationship in mentoring research has traditionally been constructed as hierarchical (Kroll, 2016), similar to that of “expert/novice” in the field of language socialization (Howard, 2012). Although this binary understanding has been challenged by recent work in both peer mentoring and peer language socialization, peer language mentoring in the context of foreign language learning has received less attention. At the same time, there has been as yet very little research on the L2 (additional language) peer socialization of Chinese language learners (Duff, 2014b), and of learners in digital contexts in general (Reinhardt & Thorne, 2017).To address this gap, this study takes a multiple case study approach to create a portrait of four long-term learners of Chinese, their histories and learning trajectories, and the ways in which these factors came together to shape their participation in an online peer language mentoring program with 11 other non-heritage post-secondary learners of Chinese as an Additional Language (CAL) from a variety of geolinguistic and educational backgrounds. Data include participant interviews, artifacts generated by mentors in the process of preparing activities for mentees, text-based interactions of participants on the platform itself, and a variety of multimodal materials (images and video) shared therein.A process of iterative grounded analysis was used to identify the focal cases; further analysis using customized Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS) tools developed for the study found that they shared unique characteristics and perspectives in the mentoring context, and took on roles as mentors with the explicit intention of critically addressing structural issues they perceived as existing in formal language education generally (and CAL specifically).The results of the study show how experienced language learners who are not positioned as experts by themselves or others can nevertheless provide rich peer mentoring support for newer learners in an asynchronous online setting. The insights shared by these participants offer an opportunity for language educators to engage with the unique perspectives of an under-studied group within CAL: those non-native learners who have successfully acquired their languages as adults and used them in a variety of contexts over an extended period of time.

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Peer language socialization in an internationalized study abroad context: norms for talking about language (2019)

Study abroad (SA) students often expect to have opportunities to interact with peers in the target language during their sojourns. However, while SA students report valuing peer relationships, to date, few studies have explored the role of peer interaction in SA (McGregor, 2016) and even less research has attended to peers’ perceptions of their role in SA students’ language learning (Kinginger, 2017). To address this gap, this qualitative multiple case study investigates peer language socialization at an internationalized English-medium university in Canada. It focuses on how language (e.g., grammar, use, lexis, and pronunciation) and language learning were oriented to in peers’ conversations, and the norms around how such topics were to be managed in informal talk.The focal students were three Japanese undergraduate SA students, each of whom recruited several English-speaking peers with whom they recorded weekly conversations. The data, which included interviews with peers and SA students as well as the recorded conversations, were analyzed using micro-analytic approaches, including membership categorization analysis (Housley & Fitzgerald, 2015; Sacks, 1992) and discursive approaches to stancetaking (Du Bois, 2007; Stevanovic & Peräkylä, 2012). Findings show that SA students had difficulty forming peer relationships, despite their engagement in extracurricular activities. The interview data also reveal that SA students valued peers who were multilingual and had experience with international students, and that peers valued SA students who asked for language help and displayed willingness to improve their English. While peers’ reports in interviews depicted discussions of language as relatively simple interactions, analyses of the peer interaction data demonstrated that SA students and peers required significant linguistic resources and prior knowledge to successfully engage in talk-about-language (Levine, 2009) and that not all SA students’ requests for language help were successful.These findings point to how “doing novice” and “doing expert” may be learned practices and highlight the need to conceive of peers as historical multifaceted individuals who may or may not be willing or able to appropriately “do expert” in interaction with SA students. As such, this study makes a significant contribution to applied linguistics in the areas of SA, peer interaction, and language socialization.

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Grammatical Metaphor and the Social Genesis of Abstraction in the Writing of Apprentice Scholars using English as an Additional Language (2017)

A central feature of written academic discourse is variability in the degrees and functions of abstraction. By means of abstract construals, writers reconfigure direct experiences of the world into abstract, general and technical concepts, compress dynamic reasoning into more stable forms of scholarly thinking, organize discourse to facilitate its interpretation, and present a more objective interpersonal stance (Halliday, 1998). These functions of abstraction often challenge second-language (L2) academic writers using English, who may have gaps in their internalized lexicogrammatical and semantic systems of English and may also be unfamiliar with expectations in scholarly cultures that are associated with these systems (Schleppegrell, 2004b). This study aims to better understand L2 writers’ use of grammatical metaphor (GM), the central resource of language for construing abstraction (Halliday, 1994, 1998), specifically ideational GM, the sub-type (including nominalization) that is most salient in academic writing. This aim was pursued through analysis of the writing of four Japanese first-language users who were at late undergraduate to early graduate levels in their respective disciplines, and who intended to become professional scholars. The setting was an English for academic purposes (EAP) writing course at a selective national university in Tokyo. The study adopts a transdisciplinary framework (Hasan, 2005/1992) integrating Vygotsky’s psychological (1978) notion of semiotic mediation, systemic functional linguistic (SFL) theory of language as a social semiotic resource (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004), and the sociology of education of Bernstein (1990, 1999), whose concept of socio-semantic dispositions emphasizes social subjects’ robust, cultural-historically evolved tendencies in mediating knowledge through language. Conventional qualitative and quantitative methods of analyzing GM were extended through the development of nominal density (ND) analysis, an instrument that allows for direct, quantitative analysis of GM use. By these means, the study generates insight into the functions of GM-enabled abstraction in students’ writing, notably in detailing the changes in these functions across the students’ individual and aggregated writing corpora. While the limited data do not allow for generalization of the findings to other populations, the study makes appreciable empirical contributions to a rapidly emerging area of research in studies of L2 academic writing and L2 development.

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Memories of language lost and learned: parents and the shaping of Chinese as a heritage language in Canada (2017)

Within the complex context of English language dominance and multiculturalism policy, Chinese language education is at a remarkable moment in Vancouver where history, politics and the economy are intertwined with demographic changes. This dissertation seeks to understand Chinese as a heritage language (CHL) in Canada through the stories of Chinese Canadian parents’ struggles and choices regarding their own heritage language. This study takes a life history research approach, which understands individuals’ life stories through a historical lens (Goodson & Sikes, 2001). The study consists of 10 parents from two groups of self-identified Chinese Canadians who reside in Metro Vancouver. The first group (Group 1) consists of parents who were either born in Canada or immigrated before the age of 4, had limited exposure to their heritage language, and predominantly speak English. The second group (Group 2) consists of parents who immigrated to Canada in their adulthood from Mainland China, Taiwan or Hong Kong, speak one or more of a variety of Chinese languages, and learned to speak English as an additional language. Beginning with the theoretical framework that perceives language practice as the outcome of the interrelation between socio-historical distributions of capital and the dispositions of individuals that are shaped and reshaped in their situated field (Bourdieu, 1991), this study captures CHL along multiple timescales (Braudel, 1958/2009) to understand the long term historical continuities of Chinese language education in a city shaped by colonial language hierarchies. The parents’ narratives show that despite the increasing popularity of learning Chinese and the rise of the Chinese economy, the challenges of CHL education have largely remained the same over decades. This study argues that English monolingualism as a foundational property in Canada is the root of the problem for CHL education and Chinese language programs in public schools, not the “increasing” presence of Chinese. As long as the unmarkedness of English today is (mis)recognized as natural and neutral, the markedness of Chinese as social other will still remain.

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Negotiating academic discourse practices, ideologies, and identities: the socialization of Chinese PhD students (2016)

The internationalization of Canadian universities and the rising number of students who speak English as an additional language have greatly influenced higher education in the country. A central component of this change involves the ways incoming students are able to negotiate the academic discourse practices, identities, ideologies, and communities that are essential for success. Against such a backdrop, this dissertation explores the academic discourse socialization of seven foreign Chinese PhD students in the faculties of arts and education at a major Canadian research university. This study draws on the theoretical frameworks and constructs of language socialization (Duff, 2007a, 2010a; Ochs, 1986; Ochs & Schieffelin, 1984, 2012), transnationalism (Duff, 2015; Ong, 1993, 1999; Vertovec, 2009), internationalization (Altbach & Knight, 2007; de Wit, 2002; Marginson, 1999), and panopticism (Foucault, 1995). A multiple case study method was used to address the various sources of socialization and their outcomes in terms of the students’ academic trajectories. The primary data sources include semi-structured interviews conducted near the start and end of the study period, narrative accounts produced by each participant charting their academic writing experiences, and voluntarily submitted academic texts that contained varying degrees and types of written feedback. This study provides insight into the diverse and influential sources of internal and external socialization that affect second language students’ academic discourse practices, identity and ideological (re)negotiation, and community integration. Although much prior case study research involving similar populations has concentrated primarily on students’ deficits and perceived or actual barriers to success, this study largely uncovered the opposite characteristics and experiences of its doctoral participants: students who were resilient, grounded, and exceedingly talented in the face of considerable adversity, and who exemplified strategies and positionalities conducive to achieving their desired goals. In some cases, however, insufficient or undesirable academic support provided to the students resulted in missed opportunities to improve academic language and literacy practices and subsequent socialization into discourses and communities. These stories of both success and neglect, and the socialization that did or did not occur, are of pedagogical and theoretical importance in determining best practices in doctoral student support and education.

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The philosopher's teahouse: implementing critical pedagogy in multicultural English as a second language academic preparation classes (2010)

This study investigates how students understand and experience critical pedagogy in four culturally diverse ESL classes in Northwest University, located in a multicultural metropolis in Canada. I conducted the study in my own classes, simultaneously examining my practice and its impact on my students since teachers’ and students’ identities are entwined. Through dialogue and negotiations among teacher and students, critical language pedagogy provides an innovative approach to teaching English language skills that enables students to challenge inequality, since language is a powerful tool, often used to control, persuade or exclude. I chose a critical ethnographic case study as the most appropriate methodology for uncovering the multiple ways ESL students make meaning of a pedagogical process that has to date received little practical guidance. My study, which took place over one academic year, offers an introspective and detailed portrait of the pitfalls, practicalities and possibilities of such an approach, from the perspectives of the students and pedagogue themselves. An analysis of the classroom interactions, assignments and private interviews, reveals that students considered the pedagogy meaningful because it not only taught them practical language skills, but also connected their lives to the sociopolitical, alerted them to their rights and prepared them to become active, engaged and equal participants in their new society. My research contradicts the stereotype of the submissive, uncritical ESL student through numerous examples which illustrate how students exhibited multifaceted, agentive subjectivities, both within and outside the classroom. My findings show that a critical pedagogy enabled some of the students to identify and challenge unfair situations in their everyday lives in Canada. In addition, they reflected on and sometimes rejected their own internalized hegemonic cultural practices, and even encouraged others to consider different perspectives, thereby claiming and asserting redefined self-determined identities. One student articulated her dream of establishing a teahouse in China that reflected our critical classroom. And so I chose the Philosopher’s Teahouse as a metaphor for my classroom – a place where students discuss among equals the controversial issues of the day, learn new multicultural perspectives and in the process provoke changes in themselves.

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Negotiating multiple investments in languages and identities : the language socialization of Generation 1.5 Korean-Canadian university students (2009)

The increasing number of immigrants in North America has made Generation 1.5 students--foreign-born children who immigrated to their host country with their first- generation immigrant parents (Rumbaut & Ima, 1988)--a significant population in Canadian and American schools (Fix & Passel, 2003; Gunderson, 2007). Of these students, many enter universities while still in the process of learning English as a second language (ESL). This often presents them with unique educational needs and challenges, which sometimes results in a “deficiency-oriented” view of Generation 1.5 university students (Harklau, 2000). However, much of the immigrant education research has thus far been limited to K-12 students, and the applied linguistics literature on Generation 1.5 university students has mostly examined their experiences within college and university ESL, writing, or composition program settings in the U.S. Therefore, this study addresses the gap in the literature through a qualitative multiple case study exploring the language socialization of seven Generation 1.5 Korean-Canadian university students. Triangulated data were collected over ten months through individual and group interviews with students and three English course instructors, questionnaires, students’ personal writings, and field notes. Drawing on the perspectives of language socialization (Duff & Hornberger, 2008) and language and identity (Norton, 2000), this study examined the contextual factors involved in the students’ language socialization processes and further investigated how these factors affected the students’ investments in languages and identities, as manifested in their everyday practices. The findings suggest that 1) in an ever-changing globalized world, the characteristics, including the educational goals and needs, of today’s Generation 1.5 Korean-Canadian students were considerably different from those of their predecessors; 2) through the complex interplay between their past, present, and future “imagined” experiences, the students were socialized into various beliefs and ideologies about language learning and use, often necessitating negotiations of investments in their identities and in their first, second, and sometimes third languages; and 3) given the diverse backgrounds and linguistic goals of these students, Generation 1.5 language learners should be seen from a “bi/multilingual and bicultural abilities” perspective rather than from a “deficiency-oriented” perspective. The study concludes with implications for policy, research, and pedagogy.

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Socialization in the margins : second language writers and feedback practices in university content courses (2008)

Recent years have seen a growing interest in the relationship between second language (L2) writing development and the ways we can help growing populations of L2 writers successfully integrate within academic communities. Much of this interest stems from increasingly diverse local populations and the continued internationalization of higher education. This dissertation explored the implications for curriculum resulting from this growing presence of L2 writers in academic content areas. To achieve this goal, this research reports on an eight-month longitudinal ethnographic case study of five international Japanese undergraduate students at a large Canadian university. Focusing on the central role of writing in university courses as the dominant mode of knowledge construction and dissemination, as well as student assessment, the study documents focal students’ and focal instructors’ perspectives of the various factors affecting their writing in ‘regular’ content courses, with particular attention paid to the impact of feedback practices and their role in both the short-term and long-term development of students’ skills and their investments in different types of writing. Drawing on a language socialization framework, data analysis focused on expectations and practices with respect to feedback, and explored the impact of these practices on conveying both explicit and implicit norms linked to students’ access to, and successful participation in, their chosen content areas. Drawing on both students’ and instructors’ perspectives of this literacy event and discourse analysis of relevant documents, findings offer unique insights into the role of feedback practices not only for students’ writing development but also in indexing complex negotiations of positions, identities, and institutional forces. The dissertation concludes by highlighting the need to play closer attention to the multidimensional functions of feedback practices in order to understand their power to shape the socialization trajectories of L2 writers and universities’ responses to multilingual students who no longer fit traditional profiles.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Multimodal academic discourse socialization: an ethnographic multiple-case study of geoscience students' poster presentations at a Canadian university (2020)

Academic discourse socialization (ADS) provides useful theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical insights into the processes, affordances, and challenges associated with students’ learning and engagement in academic discourses and tasks (Duff & Anderson, 2015). While research has predominantly documented oral and written ADS, language socialization theorists have increasingly examined the significant affordances of multimodal and embodied meaningmaking resources (Duff, Zappa-Hollman, & Surtees, 2019). However, the roles and dynamic interrelationships among these different modes require further ADS research. Another research gap concerns the type of academic task that is analyzed. Compared to lecture-type student presentations (Duff & Kobayashi, 2010), fewer studies have explored poster presentations, which foreground the orchestration of verbal, written, visual, and embodied resources to effectively communicate their meanings in dynamic ways (MacIntosh-Murray, 2007). Despite this complexity and the ubiquity of poster presentations in courses and at conferences, little is known about students’ actual multimodal meaning-making practices in poster presentations. This thesis therefore explores the nexus of these two interrelated, underexplored areas.Drawing on Vygotskian sociocultural theory, ADS, and ecological approaches (Duff, 2007; van Lier, 2004), this thesis reports findings from a multiple-case study of undergraduate students’ multimodal ADS and poster presentation performance in a geoscience course at a Canadian university. Data generated through semester-long classroom observations, interviews with the instructor and students, and participant-produced documents (e.g., posters) were qualitatively analyzed following a multi-cycle procedure (Miles et al., 2019). Video-recorded data were analyzed using multimodal interaction analysis (Norris, 2019) to examine four participants’ moment-to-moment deployment of multiple meaning-making resources in their poster presentations. Findings show that students were socialized into the recurrent in-class “observation versus interpretation” activity to learn to differentiate them in the visual geographical data in highly multimodal and embodied ways. The analyses of students’ videorecorded poster presentations further demonstrate how these multimodal and embodied practices were manifested in students’ performance using spoken and written language, visuals, iconic and deictic gestures, and viewers’ questions as additional semiotic resources. This study emphasizes that multimodal enactments constitute a crucial dimension of disciplinary practices and values connected with learning to think, view, and represent knowledge “like geoscientists.”

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Leaning Chinese: Three Autobiographical Narratives (2011)

This autobiographical case-study is an arts-informed narrative inquiry into learning (Mandarin) Chinese as an Additional Language (CAL). I have been studying Chinese for over a decade, but in this thesis I focus on the six months (September 2009–February 2010) I spent studying CAL at a high intermediate level in Taipei. I offer three creative non-fiction narratives connected to that experience. The first is a language memoir that mixes languages (English and Chinese), poetry and prose. The second is a reader’s theatre script that re- presents conversations on Chinese with a variety of people (students, teachers and expatriates) from my CAL community in Taipei. The third is a bricolage of image-texts related to CAL selected from internet sources. I conceptualize all three narratives as autobiographical in that they explore various sources – individual, communal, and societal – that are invariably woven together in any story of the self.By using multiple autobiographical accounts to explore lived experience I am working with an opportunity to explore the elusive, shifting, context- dependent and influential nature of narrative sense-making. This approach also provides an opportunity for tensions, resolutions, dissonances, and resonances to reverberate across the stories in ways that stimulate unity without the expense of uniformity. Further, each narrative serves to triangulate the others, drawing as they do on different source materials and perspectives. Yet all three narratives are also fundamentally individual creations, identity texts (Cummins, 2006) even, and as such work to investigate how the personal is inevitably professional, the artistic simultaneously academic, and how representation is always also creation.This investigation of narratives and identities is not peripheral to CAL learning itself. As my understanding of the forces operating on my CAL identity increases, implications for my trajectory as a language learner emerge in significant, liberating ways. This in turn, allows the integration of CAL-related linguistic, sociolinguistic, and cultural habits into my ongoing personal narrative to become more conscious, comfortable and complete.I offer this study as an invitation to participate in the important, complex, and urgent work of increasing awareness of one’s self-in-context.

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The Non-native Modern Language Teacher: Language Practices, Choices, and Challenges (2011)

Previous research exploring the issues and challenges facing non-native language teachers has predominantly studied teachers of English. However, due to the status of French as an official language and waves of European and Asian immigration within the Lower Mainland of British Columbia there are many other modern languages of interest and relevance being taught besides English. The question then arises: What are the issues and challenges facing non-native teachers of languages other than English, and what is their unique contribution to modern language teaching? Do the findings and theories developed from previous research conducted mainly in English language teaching contexts, particularly with respect to language use practises, choices, and challenges, apply to other language teaching contexts? In this qualitative study of 22 non-native modern language teachers, participants teaching various Asian and European languages were interviewed with the subsequent interview and questionnaire data subjected to a cross-case analysis. Four participants were selected as focal cases for greater in-depth analysis. Participants’ perspectives on the ‘native speaker’ construct were also explored in relation to their non-native status.It was found that most participants were challenged in their attempts to maintain and improve their target language proficiency. Many teachers viewed their bilingual or multilingual identity as a strength, though this was sometimes in conflict with the views of stakeholders. Much of the previous research concerning language use, barriers faced by nonnative teachers, and reflections on the term ‘native speaker’ was confirmed by this study. In terms of the principal theme of L1-L2 use, this study further valorised teachers’ selective and strategic use of the L1, particularly in late-entry programs, while continuing to focus on maximising L2 use. Extensive individual and contextual factors also had an impact on participants’ language use though the use of L1-L2 boundaries or zones was a useful strategy. Findings have implications for the hiring, training, and professional development of language teachers. Although some of the experiences of non-native teachers of Asian languages were similar to those of their counterparts in other languages, these teachers faced some particularly unique challenges which present avenues for future research.

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