English Language Learners, Labels, Purposes, Standard English, Whiteness, Deficit Views, and Unproblematic Framings: Toward Southern Decoloniality


  • Chaka Chaka University of South Africa




This paper argues for revisiting ways in which English Language Learners (ELLs), and the learner labels attributed to them, are negatively, racially, and pathologically framed and constructed based on, putatively, their English language competence, or their lack of it. It contends that this framing tends to give rise to a raciolinguistic profiling of these learners, as they end up being classified by their race, pan-ethnicity, nationality, immigrant/refugee status, regionality, and at times, by their skin color, in addition to their language abilities. This raciolinguistic framing often engenders other framings such as White, deficit, and poverty framings, and sub-framings like an othering framing (e.g., the racial others and the linguistic others). These framings, together with the normative ways in which ELLs’ language problems are constructed, have been characterized in this paper as misframings. Additionally, employing southern decoloniality, the paper problematizes and critiques the way ELLs are constructed and labeled, and the appropriation of Standard English (SE) as the sole touchstone of acceptable English in the midst of the other varieties of SE and of pluriversal speakers of English. Finally, the paper calls for the provincialization/localization or the deparochialization of English in keeping with its southern decolonial approach.