Psychology 100A: Language Socialization

Spring 2004, Monday & Wednesday 5:00-6:45 pm, in Social Sciences 2, room 141



Dr. Leslie Moore

x 9-5084 to leave a message at the Psychology Department office

Office hours in room 378, SS 2, x 9-4095, Wednesdays 4-5 pm & by appointment



How does a child become a member of a particular cultural community? Research on language socialization has shown that language plays a crucial role in this process. Community members interact with children and other novices in ways that are culture-specific and shape novices’ understandings not only of what language is for, but also of who they are, how they should behave, and what they should feel.



Course description

In this course, we will read and discuss research in the relatively new field of language socialization. Language socialization research – and thus this course – is interdisciplinary, integrating theoretical perspectives and methods from psychology, linguistics, anthropology, education, and sociology. Readings address a variety of different cultures. Topics include

§         socialization into literacy

§         caregiver socialization of emotions

§         development of knowledge about status and roles through language use

§         language socialization in situations of culture and language contact


Working in pairs, you will have the opportunity to conduct original research on language socialization, focusing on a site and topic of your own choosing. These research projects will be ongoing throughout the course, and we will dedicate class time each week to discussion of your discoveries, frustrations, and questions as you progress through data collection and analysis. At the end of the quarter, research teams will present their projects to the class and submit a final report/paper to the instructor.


The two main goals of this course are (1) to achieve greater understanding the role of language structure and use in shaping psychological and cultural functioning, and (2) to consider the implications of such research for current issues in our own society.


The course textbook

Language socialization across cultures (1986), edited by Bambi B. Schieffelin & Elinor Ochs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

(henceforth LSAC) is available at the Bay Tree Bookstore.


Additional readings will be distributed by the instructor or is available electronically via the University Library on-line journals service.


Course responsibilities


Participation: I expect each student to be actively engaged in class; that is, coming to class prepared, paying attention, and contributing to discussions both by making comments and by facilitating other people’s participation. Please try to share equally in talk so that everyone's voice can be heard. Students’ course performance will be evaluated for their efforts to learn through class participation as well as to contribute to classmates’ learning. Therefore, attendance at every class meeting is required. It is difficult to do well in the course if sessions are missed. Late arrival or early departure are considered poor involvement; they are disruptive to others and make it likely to miss essential information. Please contact me if there is an emergency situation. If you are ill and must miss a class, you are responsible for getting the notes and assignment information from classmates.


Reading assignments: All assigned readings are mandatory and must be completed in a timely fashion. Readings are assigned on a weekly basis, which means that you are expected to have read and prepared to discuss the articles before you come to class on Monday. As you read, take notes, summarize, pay attention to new words or concepts, come with questions for me &/or your classmates. Do not replace these analytical activities with highlighting. When reading papers, please consider the following guiding questions:

§         What struck you as interesting about this paper?

§         How do points or claims made in this paper relate or compare to those brought up in other readings for this course?

§         What did you find in the paper that you feel will be useful/relevant for your future career? Why?

§         What did you find in the paper that helped you better understand a past experience or important phenomena or event(s)?

§         What aspect of the paper did you find problematic or did you disagree with?

§         What questions did the paper raise for you?


Weekly reading response blurb: Every Monday, come to class with at least 1 question, comment, or critique for each assigned reading (or all the readings, if your blurb addresses some overarching issue) that will promote discussion. These blurbs will be turned in to the instructor at the end of class and are to be typed, double-spaced, and no more than one page. Raise your question(s), comment(s), or critiques(s) during class and be prepared to expand on it/them.


Leading discussion: Each week, two students will act as primary facilitators of discussion of the readings. You may divide up the time or work as a team. I am happy to meet with you if you would like help planning.


Critical review: During the quarter, you will write a critical review of one of the assigned readings (sign-ups will be on the second day of class). Guidelines for writing a critical review will be provided by the instructor. Your review should be four to five pages, typed, double-spaced, proofread or spell-checked. A sample review will be available on the instructor’s website.


Team research project: Working in pairs, you will conduct research at a site of your choice. Pick a context where you can observe and record a routine activity involving more and less competent participants, a context in which language socialization is taking place. Most of our readings focus on family interactions, but you are welcome to investigate language socialization on the job, at school, in student organizations, etc. The instructor will provide detailed guidelines for the project, but research activities include

§         (participant) observation and fieldnoting

§         audio recording and transcribing

§         informal interview and playback with participants

§         self-reflection

Each week, you will complete a phase of the project. On Wednesdays, teams will turn in to the instructor a brief report on the work completed in the previous week (one page, typed, double-spaced). In class, we will discuss how the projects are progressing, make connections with the readings, and consider insights and issues that arise. The last three class meetings will be dedicated to team presentations of the research projects. Each research team will also produce a final report/paper on the project (10 pages, typed, double-spaced). Final reports must be in the instructor’s mailbox in the Psychology Department office by 5 pm on Friday, 4 June 2004.



Feedback during the quarter will build toward the quarter’s performance evaluation. Students who request a letter grade will receive a comprehensive grade after the quarter ends, but feedback during the quarter will come in complete words. To encourage a learning-focused environment, letter grades will not be used during the quarter. If you need to know letter grades during the quarter, you may want to choose a different course. Course responsibilities will be weighted in the following way:


% of final grade



Weekly reading response (9)


Leading discussion


Critical review


Team research project weekly reports (7)


Team research project final presentation


Team research project final report/paper



Except in cases of properly documented illness or personal emergency, late assignments will progressively lose value and will be evaluated and returned as time allows.


Special notes from the instructor

§         Assignments (and any parts thereof) are to be submitted in hard copy, NOT by email.

§         Email related to the class must be marked in the subject line in the following way: your last name psych 100a. Bear in mind that I do not read my email everyday.

§         If you have a disability that will affect your class participation or the completion of assignments in a timely manner, let the instructor know this within the first week of class and arrangements will be made.



Schedule (provisional) of course topics & readings



WEEK 1 – Introduction to the enterprise

Schieffelin, B., & Ochs, E. (1986). Language socialization. Annual Review of Anthropology, 15, 163-191. (available on-line via UC library website)

Ø      Pair up for team research projects



WEEK 2 – Development and learning in a social world

Peters, A. M., & Boggs, S. T. (1986). Interactional routines as cultural influences on language acquisition. In LSAC.

Rogoff, B. (1995). Observing sociocultural activity on three planes: participatory appropriation, guided participation, and apprenticeship. In J. V. Wertsch & P. d. Rio & A. Alvarez (Eds.), Sociocultural studies of mind (pp. 139-164). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Miller, P. J. (1996). Instantiating culture through discourse practices: some personal reflections on socialization and how to study it. In R. Jessor & A. Colby & R. Shweder (Eds.), Ethnography and human development (1st ed., pp. 183-204). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ø      Report on choice of research site & initial contact with research participants



WEEK 3 – Social routines: language use as interpersonal activity

Demuth, K. (1986). Prompting routines in the language socialization of Basotho children. In LSAC.

Watson-Gegeo, K. A., & Gegeo, D. W. (1986). Calling out and repeating routines in Kwara'ae children's language socialization. In LSAC.

No class on April 14. I will be presenting at AERA

Ø      Observation & fieldnoting at research site (no recording)



WEEK 4 – Learning about status and roles

Andersen, E. S. (1986). The acquisition of register variation by Anglo-American children. In LSAC.

Ochs, E., & Taylor, C. (2001). The "Father Knows Best" dynamic in dinnertime narratives. In A. Duranti (Ed.), Linguistic anthropology: a reader (pp. 431-450). Oxford: Blackwell.

Platt, M. (1986). Social norms and lexical acquisition: a study of deictic verbs in Samoan child language. In LSAC.

Ø      Record at research site



WEEK 5 – Teasing and verbal play

Eisenberg, A. R. (1986). Teasing: verbal play in two Mexicano homes. In LSAC.

Miller, P. (1986). Teasing as language socialization and verbal play in a white working-class family. In LSAC.

Schieffelin, B. (1986). Teasing and shaming in Kaluli children's interactions. In LSAC.

Ø      Select and transcribe segment(s) from recording



WEEK 6 – Emotional expression and style

Clancy, P. M. (1986). The acquisition of communicative style in Japanese. In LSAC.

Ochs, E. (1986). From feelings to grammar: a Samoan case study. In LSAC.

Ø      Playback & informal interview with research participants



WEEK 7 – Literacy socialization

Fader, A. (2001). Literacy, bilingualism, and gender in a Hasidic community. Linguistics and Education, 12(3), 261-283.

Heath, S. B. (1986). What no bedtime story means: narrative skills at home and school. In LSAC.

Ø      Describe the activity you have recorded, the participants’ roles therein, & how socialization is occurring



WEEK 8 - Language socialization in contact situations

Baquedano-López, P. (2000). Narrating community in Doctrina classes. Narrative Inquiry, 10(2), 429-452.

Field, M. (2001). Triadic directives in Navajo language socialization. Language in Society, 30, 249-263.

Moore, L. C. (2003). Changes in folktale socialization in a Fulbe community. Paper presented at the 102nd American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting. Chicago, IL.

Ø      Make connections with relevant assigned readings & find at least 2 additional articles



WEEK 9 – Language socialization, an evolving field

Garrett, P., & Baquedano-López, P. (2002). Language socialization: reproduction and continuity, transformation and change. Annual Review of Anthropology, 31, 339-361.

Ø      Final Presentations on Wednesday




Ø      Final Presentations


Psychology 100A: Language Socialization, Spring 2004, Dr. Leslie Moore


Overview of the Team Research Project


Working in pairs or solo, you will conduct language socialization research at a site of your choice. Pick a context where you can observe and record more and less competent participants (henceforth, expert and novice) engaged in a routine activity. Your goal is to understand what cultural values, norms, and/or identities the expert is socializing in the novice through language, and how.


You can investigate language socialization in a home, on the job, in a student organization, etc. You are welcome to conduct your study in a setting where languages other than English are used, but you will be required to provide translation in your transcripts. Please consult with me before deciding on a research site.


Each week, you will complete a phase of the project. The work schedule is as follows:



Partner up & discuss possible research sites & topics


Select research site. Visit site to make contact with research participants and to obtain their consent to study & record their behavior.


Observe at site. Take notes but do not record.


Record at site.


Select & transcribe segment(s) from recording.


Do playback & informal interview with research participant(s).


Write up a description of the activity you recorded & participants’ roles therein. Identify the cultural values, norms, &/or identities that are being socialized. Describe how socialization is occurring through language.


Write up connections you have made between your project & the assigned readings. Read at least 2 additional articles that are relevant to your project. Write up the connections.





Final reports due by 5 pm on Friday, June 4th, delivered to the instructor’s mailbox in the Psychology Department office.


Fieldwork and research are fluid activities. Feel free to begin a phase or to raise issues related to a phase before the week for which it is assigned.


Some criteria to consider:

§         You should record naturally occurring interaction; i.e., an interaction in which the expert(s) and novice(s) are doing something they typically do when you are not present (with recording equipment).

§         Interaction among people who know each other well, or at least are familiar with one another, works best.

§         People engaged in activities that are familiar to them works best.

§         Some sites may require more formal procedures for obtaining consent from participants.


Some more things to consider:

§         If possible, pick an interaction that you already know includes something interesting for us as language socialization researchers.

§         If you record people who know you well, you will find it easier to interpret their behavior. You may be one of the people recorded.

§         Pick a situation and people you feel comfortable being with.

§         Try to get a situation where you can easily record without being too obtrusive.


For your project, plan to record an interaction for 30 to 60 minutes: the more you record, the more choice you will have in deciding what to analyze. You may either do the recording yourself or ask one of the participants to record the interaction in your absence.


After listening to your entire tape, select the most interesting segment(s) of continuous interaction for analysis (about 10-15 minutes). Your analysis may include both the expert’s use of language to directly convey social norms and roles (e.g., “Don’t interrupt me when I’m talking”), and the expert’s use of a communicative style that models cultural values for the child (e.g., indirect refusals). Pay attention to both expert and novice. Novices may resist experts’ efforts to make them behave in a certain way, or the roles may be temporarily reversed, with the novice socializing the expert.


Transcribe your chosen segment(s) following the transcription conventions that will be handed out later. Suggestion: if you are working with someone, have each person transcribe different parts, and then check each other’s transcriptions.


Read over your transcript carefully and decide what you want to analyze (e.g., teasing, directives, praise). Identify all instances of the phenomena you are interested in. Then look carefully at the context in which they occur, and see if you can figure out why they happen, why they happen where they happen, and what is their effect on what happens next, as well as on the interaction as a whole. Identify the norms, values, and/or identities that are being socialized through language. Describe the linguistic forms (e.g., word choice, patterns of turn-taking) that are being used as resources for socializing.


Conduct a playback session and informal interview with your research participants. Have them listen to the segments you selected for analysis. First, let them respond freely to the recording. Then ask questions about the interaction, float your ideas about what is going on, and see what participants have to say. You may want to record this session, as you may not be able to take notes quickly enough.


On Wednesdays, teams will turn in to the instructor a brief report on the work completed in the previous week (one page, typed, double-spaced). In class, we will discuss how the projects are progressing, make connections with the readings, and consider insights and issues that arise. The instructor will also provide training in the skills you will need to complete the next phase of the project.


The last three class meetings will be dedicated to team presentations of the research projects. Each research team will also produce a final report/paper on the project (10 pages, typed, double-spaced). The instructor will provide guidelines for the presentation and the final report/paper.