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The People Behind the PhDs 06: Steve Przymus -Should I translanguage, I’m not sure about education? 1-3

The People Behind the PhDs 06: Steve Przymus -Should I translanguage, I’m not sure about education? 1-3

Dr. Steve Prymus studies translanguaing, bilingual education, and the assessment of teaching culturally and linguistically diverse exceptional students at Texas Christian University.

In this episode, we talk about how a kid wondering about the world during midnight talks while wandering around a small North Dakota town went on to study translanguaging with stops as a junior high teacher, Peace Corps volunteer, and Fulbright scholar.

Listen to the episode in 3 parts

Part 1 m4a mp3Part 2 m4a mp3Part 3 m4a mp3

People behind the PhDs 06: Steve Przymus – Preview

See YouTube video here

Dr. Steve Przymus Bio

Steve Daniel Przymus, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Bilingual Education/ESL at Texas Christian University. Steve’s experiences as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer (Dominican Republic, 2003-2005), Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Grantee (Mexico, 2010), and U.S. public school teacher have driven his passion for developing and promoting multimodal/multilingual pedagogies that recognize individuals’ full semiotic repertoires and educational life histories. Steve’s research focusses on the language and identity development of emergent bilinguals through innovative bilingual instruction in the classroom, through socialization in interest-based communities of practice beyond the classroom, and through bilingual semi-anonymous communicative interactions online.The Subliminal Influence of Street Signs in Schoolscapes

Professor Steve Przymus sitting
Professor Steve Przymus sitting


  • In the south part of Tucson a majority of the population identifies as Hispanic or Mexican.
  • In the north part of Tucson a majority of the population does not identity itself as Hispanic or Mexican.
  • Yet, in the south part of Tucson a majority of the street signs are in English, and in the north part of Tucson the majority of streets signs are in Spanish.
  • In the south, students are discouraged from speaking Spanish. In the north, students are encouraged to learn Spanish. What gives?
Dr. Z Productions
People behind the PhDs


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Music by Kate SC


Mensajes de los abuelitos: Multimodal Zapotec literacy development via the assertion of local
ontologies and community-based xkialnana (knowledge) in Oaxaca, México

Steve Daniel Przymus, Texas Christian University

Felipe Ruiz Jiménez, Escuela Primaria Intercultural Bilingüe: Ramón López Velarde
Virgilia Pérez García, Escuela Primaria Intercultural Bilingüe: Luz y Progreso


A challenge facing Zapotec teachers in multicultural bilingual schools in Oaxaca, México is a
persistent colonial and Eurocentric system of national education curriculum that places greater
value on Western, monolingual, epistemological knowing-about knowledge over profound,
community-based, traditional, ontological, Indigenous knowing; a knowledge that is vital to the
maintenance of the Zapotec language and way of life. A “decolonial” (ontological) way of
thinking that values and legitimatizes Indigenous categories of thought can lead to decolonial
education models, such as community-based teaching approaches to literacy development
(Francisco Antonio, 2015, p. 1). The literacy teaching methods, shared within, derive from and
honor community-based xkialnana, local ontologies that work to develop Zapotec
literacy/identity development and challenge normalized/official/colonial knowledge acceptance
at schools. Questions of language planning and policy remain, however, as Zapotec teachers
struggle to find ways to infuse the Zapotec language in curriculum in meaningful ways, amid
critique and concerns from parents that doing so slows down literacy instruction in Spanish.
This microethnographic case study of two native Zapotec teachers at two Zapotec bilingual
schools, addresses both ways to achieve decolonial teaching and solutions for including
meaningful Zapotec literacy instruction that builds community-based xkialnana among youth and
keeps mensajes de los abuelitos alive.

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