Academic Literacy and Linguistics
Phone: +1 (212) 220-8548
Associate Professor Sharon Avni is an applied linguist whose research on language, religion and education draws on a range of academic traditions and theoretical frameworks including linguistic anthropology, historical analysis, and cultural studies.
Her research has examined how ideologies of language, heritage, diaspora and peoplehood are constructed and negotiated through educational practices and policies in formal and experiential educational sites for Jewish American urban youth. With a focus on the teaching and learning of Hebrew, she conducted an 18-month ethnographic and linguistic study of American Jewish teenagers attending a Jewish day school in New York City and participating in a homeland tour in Israel. Building on theories of language policy and language socialization, she examined the myriad ways in which these youths construct and negotiate ethnic and religious identities and practices through linguistic, ideological and material practices.
Working with Kate Menken, a professor of linguistics at the CUNY Graduate Center and at Queens College, and funded by the Spencer Foundation, Professor Avni is researching the expansion of dual language, Hebrew-English programs in New York City public schools. She is also a research affiliate at the Mandel Center at Brandeis University, working with Sarah Benor and Jonathan Krasner, to examine the use of Hebrew at Jewish overnight camping. Their forthcoming book on Hebrew practices at Jewish American overnight camps is under contract with Rutgers University Press. Professor Avni is also am in the preliminary steps of researching Israeli teenage youth in New Jersey and their language practices.
Language and religion, Community Colleges, Applied Linguistics
- Ph.D. New York University, TESOL,
- This intensive writing course for ESL students focuses on basic components of effective writing, including paragraph development and structure, sentence structure, word choice, and content. Students read and respond to a variety of texts and use argumentation, narrative, and description as modes of developing ideas in writing.
- This course will introduce the student to the study of Language and Culture. The course will introduce related topics, such as bilingual/bidialectal families and bilingual education, language and gender, literacy in a changing, technological society, child language acquisition, and different dialects and registers of English. The readings will draw on works in linguistics, literature and related fields. Students will work on critical reading and produce writing based on the readings in connections with their own experiences and backgrounds.
- This three credit, 200-level course will explore the complex relationship between language and the law. The course critically considers the role of language and its power in the legal process. Three branches of forensic linguistics (handwriting, phonology, and discourse analysis) will be discussed. We will examine the work of dialectologists, creolists, and graphologists who have used linguistic evidence to interpret evidence (e.g., blackmail and ransom notes), and voice and spectrogram analysis will also be discussed. The course will also examine how linguists are involved in the legal process when they serve as expert witnesses. Prerequisite: ENG 201
Research and Projects
- Hebrew in American Jewish Camping
Co-Principal Investigators Sharon Avni, Jonathan Krasner and Sarah Benor are analyzing the various ways in which Hebrew is utilized in a wide range of Jewish overnight camping. Many camps explicitly teach Hebrew and/or use Hebrew as a component of their educational program. However, to this point there has been no research on the role of Hebrew language practices in this thriving educational setting. The research?s three major components include an ethnographic, linguistic, and historical approach to examining the ways in which campers and staff think about and use Hebrew. Book under contract with Rutgers University Press.
- Spencer Foundation Small Grant
In collaboration with Kate Menken (Queens College and CUNY Graduate Center), Professor Avni is studying Hebrew-English dual-language, bilingual education in New York City public schools. This $49,992 grant project is titled Diversity in the Expansion of Dual Language Bilingual Education: The Case of Hebrew-English Programs in New York City Public Schools
- Negotiating language ownership: Hebrew charter schools and the American Jewish Press,Language and Communication 45, 83-95
- Homeland tour guide narratives and the discursive construction of the diasporic,Narrative Inquiry 23:2, 227-244
- Hebrew as heritage: The work of language in religious and communal continuity,Linguistics and Education, 23, 323-333
Honors, Awards and Affiliations
- PSC-CUNY Grant (Traditional A)
Project title: The Role of Hebrew at American Jewish Residential Summer Camps (2015)
- BMCC Faculty Development Grant
Project title: Negotiating language ownership: Hebrew charter schools and the American Jewish Press (2007-2014)