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Call for Abstracts: Symbolic Competence: From Theory to Pedagogical Practice
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A Special Issue of L2 Journal Symbolic Competence: From Theory to Pedagogical Practice Call for Abstracts Guest editors: Kimberly Vinall and William Heidenfeldt

3/31/2016 to 4/30/2016
When: Thursday, March 31, 2016
Where: United States

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A Special Issue of L2 Journal
Symbolic Competence: From Theory to Pedagogical Practice
Call for Abstracts

Guest editors: Kimberly Vinall and William Heidenfeldt

Symbolic competence in L2 learning and use has been a moving target in the field of SLA for the past ten years. Initially described in terms of gameplay—as an ability to position oneself to one’s benefit in a symbolic power game through the manipulation and interpretation of symbolic systems, practices, and relationships therein (Kramsch, 2006; Kramsch & Whiteside, 2008), symbolic competence has come to include the potentiality of L2 users to “recognize and transgress the multiple borders of the contact zone, through and between many meaning-making systems, between the self and the other, among various timescales and contexts, and, ultimately, across power structures” (Vinall, 2010).

Whereas theorizations of symbolic competence have opened new avenues of inquiry and research, many critical questions still remain. What exactly does symbolic competence look like? How does it differ from cross-cultural or intercultural competence? In language and culture teaching contexts, how can instructors and learners identify, develop, and measure symbolic competence? How do instructors call upon their own symbolic competence in their teaching practices? How can researchers investigate and document the potentiality of symbolic competence particularly in relation to emerging understandings of multiculturalism and multilingualism?


This special issue will include theoretical, empirical, as well as pedagogically focused articles that explore the critical potentials of symbolic competence in relationship to L2 and TESOL/ESL researchers, teachers, and learners. Contexts may range from the scale of a single language classroom—K-12, university, adult education; second language, foreign language, heritage language—to the scale of national or international language learning contexts. Articles in this issue might explore the following:

  1. Theory: How can symbolic competence be further theorized? What do current or emerging theorizations add to existing understandings of such notions as multilingualism/multiculturalism in applied linguistics and second language acquisition in an era of globalization?;
  2. Research: How do we conduct research on symbolic competence, its theoretical potentials and limitations, in relationship to classroom learning and pedagogical practices?;
  3. Teacher and learner identities: In what ways do language teachers understand their own symbolic competence in the context of their bi/multilingual practices and life trajectories? How can professional learning and development for language teachers facilitate the development of their own symbolic competence?;
  4. Teaching and learning practices: What is the relevance of symbolic competence to the language classroom? How do language teachers understand and identify students’ symbolic competence in different contexts? How does technology mediate the development of symbolic competence?;
  5. Curriculum: What is the potential impact of symbolic competence on the structure and organization of curriculum? How can symbolic competence be measured/assessed?


Please submit a 300-word abstract to by April 30, 2016. Inquiries can be directed to the same address. Authors will be notified of abstract acceptance by May 31. Manuscripts will be due September 30.


The L2 Journal is a fully refereed, interdisciplinary journal, which aims to promote the research and the practice of language learning and teaching. It publishes articles in English on all aspects of applied linguistics broadly conceived, i.e., second language acquisition, second language pedagogy, bilingualism and multilingualism, language and technology, curriculum development and teacher training, testing and evaluation. All manuscripts are peer reviewed.

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