Dr. Mileidis Gort brings an interdisciplinary orientation to her work, having been trained in Human Development, Sociolinguistics, and Education, with a focus on the language, literacy, and cultural experiences and practices of young bilinguals. Her program of research documents the complex and varied ways in which emergent bilingual children use their dynamic linguistic and cultural funds of knowledge to learn and interact with teachers and peers in school contexts where two languages are used for instruction. She also investigates teachers’ languaging practices in dual language classrooms, and the ways in which teachers draw on emergent bilingual children’s developing expertise and experiences to support their engagement with language- and literacy-based activities and experimentation with new language forms.
Ed.D. in Developmental Studies: Literacy, Language, and Culture, with a specialization in Bilingualism, Biliteracy, and Bilingual Education, Boston University, 2001
Ed.M. in Elementary Education, with a specialization in Urban Education, Boston College, 1995
A.B. in Psychology, Brown University, 1994
My research documents the complex and varied ways in which emergent bilingual (EB) children use their dynamic linguistic and cultural funds of knowledge to learn and interact with teachers and peers in school contexts where two languages are used for instruction. I also investigate teachers’ languaging practices in dual language classrooms, and the ways in which teachers draw on EB children’s developing expertise and experiences to support their engagement with language- and literacy-based activities and experimentation with new language forms. Secondary, yet complementary, to my main body of work is my research on curricular and programmatic reform toward culturally- and linguistically-responsive teacher education and my analyses of education policies that restrict access to multilingual programming for EBs. My scholarship in each of these areas speaks critically to restrictive language instruction policies that aim to eradicate bilingual education and the rights of language-minoritized children to learn in their own language, and to current state and national education reform efforts that often demand that EBs perform like their monolingual English-speaking counterparts, often without appropriate support or consideration of the unique factors that influence EBs’ language, literacy, and academic development in U.S. schools.
Dual Language and Literacy Development of Young Spanish-English Bilingual Children
The study of emergent biliteracy is in its infancy in spite of the ubiquity of bi/multilingualism in the world and the growing numbers of EBs in U.S. schools. My research on the oral and written language development of young Spanish-English EB children seeks to understand the nature and role of cross-linguistic application (i.e., language transfer) and social interaction in this process. Embedded in the ethnographic tradition, my work addresses the complexities of young EB children’s language and literacy learning in dual language and general education contexts—positioning biliteracy not just as a different but a higher form of literacy than monolingual literacy. Through a combination of ethnographic and ethnomethodological approaches, my analyses elucidate the phenomena of interliteracy (i.e., cross-linguistic literacy transfer in children’s creation of texts, including the application of linguistic elements and print conventions of one language to the other), metalinguistic awareness, and translanguaging through bilingual children’s uncoached composing, naturally-occurring self-talk, and writing-related interactions with peers and teachers. My body of work in this area challenges outdated notions of parallel monolingual development and deficit-oriented conceptions of normative bilingual and biliteracy development, particularly with regard to translanguaging and writing behaviors, by providing concrete empirical evidence to the contrary and is especially relevant and significant for children acquiring bilingualism/biliteracy in U.S. schools. This major strand of my work has been disseminated in national and international literacy and language journals including the Journal of Literacy Research, the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, Miriada Hispanica, Multicultural Perspectives, special themed issues of the International Multilingual Research Journal and Language Arts which I guest edited, and several invited book chapters and articles in edited volumes. My co-edited book, Early Biliteracy Development: Exploring Young Learners’ Use of their Linguistic Resources (Bauer & Gort [Eds.], 2011, Routledge), for example, for which I authored three chapters, presents a rich portrait of EB children’s repertoires of metalinguistic strategies and interpretations as they go about reading, writing, and constructing literacy across two languages.
Quality of Language and Literacy Instruction in Bilingual and General Education
My second line of research considers the role of the social context in the dual language learning process of EB children, including that of teachers as interactional partners and language models, and instructional contexts as socially constructed spaces that encourage and sustain, or discourage and constrain, linguistic interaction and engagement. Using digital video recordings in dual language early childhood classrooms to capture teachers’ and children’s naturally-occurring classroom interactions, my research in this area explores: (a) the structural features of child and teacher speech across typical preschool activities (e.g., read aloud, show and tell, dramatic play) during officially-designated Spanish and English instructional activities; (b) the ways in which teachers mediate bilingual interactions with students and distribute Spanish and English across different classroom discourse functions to create contexts for meaning in support of young learners’ bilingual development; (c) how type and prevalence of teacher questions compare across typical early childhood learning activities; (d) how teachers coordinate the use of questions to scaffold young learners’ language and emergent literacy development; (e) teachers’ practices in support of young children’s bilingual vocabulary development, and (f) EB children’s early experiences with academic language across Spanish and English-medium preschool activities. Publications from this strand of my work appear in journals such as the Bilingual Research Journal, the International Multilingual Research Journal, Language and Education, as well as several book chapters in edited volumes and curricular and educational products designed to help literacy teachers better serve EBs.
In an extension of this work, I am currently principal investigator of a three-year, IES-funded, multi-site study that investigates the relationship between instruction and writing outcomes, and possible differences in this relationship for students with different profiles of English and Spanish language and literacy proficiency, for 350 EB Latino students across 20 fourth grade general education classrooms in the southeastern U.S. This large-scale study specifically explores two key malleable factors that have the potential to improve EBs’ writing outcomes—the quality of sheltered instruction, which is designed to provide additional support for EBs, and the quality of genre-based writing instruction (with a focus on argument genre).
To date, I have taught courses in the areas of bi/literacy development, assessment of bilingualism and bi/literacy, language acquisition and educational linguistics, writing theory and research, multicultural children’s literature, foundations of bilingual/English learner education, language diversity and literacy, sheltered English instruction, and bilingual education methods.
Co-Editor, Journal of Literacy Research (Jan. 2007-August 2009)
Editorial Boards: International Multilingual Research Journal (2014-present); Journal of Literacy Research (2011-present); Language Arts (2015-present); Journal of Education (2016-present)
Director (appointed), Scholars of Color Transitioning into Academic Research Institutions (STAR) Mentoring Program, Literacy Research Association (2016 – present)
Chair (elected), Bilingual Research Special Interest Group of the American Education Research Association (2013 – 2014)
Program Chair (elected), Bilingual Research Special Interest Group of the American Education Research Association (2012 – 2013)
Board Member (appointed), Ethnicity, Race, and Multilingualism Standing Committee of the Literacy Research Association (2012 – 2015)
Program Co-Chair (appointed), Area 8: Literacy Learning and Practice in Multilingual & Multicultural Settings of the National Reading Conference (2004, 2005, 2006)
Committee Member (appointed), Albert Kingston Award, Literacy Research Association (2014 – 2016)
Chair (appointed), Ethnicity, Race, & Multilingualism Travel Award, Literacy Research Association (2013, 2014, 2015)
Committee Member (appointed), AERA Bilingual Education Research Special Interest Group Dissertation Award (2014, 2015)
Mentor, Scholars of Color Transitioning into Academic Research Institutions (STAR) Mentoring Program (2014 – 2016)
Program Co-Founder & Mentor, AERA Bilingual Education Research SIG: Mentoring Program for Early Career Scholars (2013 – present)
Pontier, R. W., & Gort, M. (2016). Coordinated translanguaging pedagogy as distributed cognition: A case study of two dual language preschool co-teachers’ languaging practices during shared book readings. International Multilingual Research Journal, 10(2), 89-106.
Sembiante, S. F., & Gort, M. (2015). Emergent bilingual children’s early experiences with academic language in Show-and-Tell activity. Miriada Hispanica, 10, 155-177.
Gort, M., & Sembiante, S. F. (2015). Navigating hybridized language learning spaces through translanguaging pedagogy: Dual language preschool teachers’ languaging practices in support of emergent bilingual children’s performance of academic discourse. International Multilingual Research Journal, 9(1), 7-25.
Settlage, J., Gort, M., & Ceglie, R. J. (2014). Mediated language immersion and teacher ideologies: Investigating trauma pedagogy within a “physics in Spanish” course activity. Teacher Education Quarterly, 41(3), 47-76.
Gort, M., & Pontier, R. W. (2013). Exploring bilingual pedagogies in dual language early childhood classrooms. Language and Education 27(3), 223-245.
Gort, M., Pontier, R. W., & Sembiante, S. F. (2012). Function, type, and distribution of teacher questions in dual language preschool read alouds. Bilingual Research Journal, 35(3), 258-276.
Gort, M. (2012). Codeswitching patterns in the writing-related talk of young emergent bilinguals. Journal of Literacy Research, 44(1), 45-75.
Bauer, E. B., & Gort, M. (Eds.). (2012). Early biliteracy development: Exploring young learners’ use of their linguistic resources. New York: Rutledge.
Gort, M., & Glenn, W. J. (2010). Navigating tensions in the process of change: An English-educator’s dilemma management in the revision and implementation of a diversity-infused methods course. Research in the Teaching of English, 45(1), 59-86.
Haas, E., & Gort, M. (2009). Demanding more: Legal standards and best practices for English language learners. Bilingual Research Journal, 32(2), 115-135.
Gort, M. (2008). “You give me idea!”: Collaborative strides toward bilingualism and biliteracy in a two-way partial immersion program. Multicultural Perspectives, 10(4), 192-200.
Gort, M., de Jong, E. J., & Cobb, C. D. (2008). SEeIng through a bilingual lens: Structural and ideological contexts of sheltered English immersion in three Massachusetts districts. Journal of Educational Research and Policy Studies 8(2), 41-66.
Gort, M. (2006). Strategic codeswitching, interliteracy, and other phenomena of emergent bilingual writing: Lessons from first-grade dual language classrooms. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 6(3), 323-354.
de Jong, E. J., Gort, M., & Cobb, C. D. (2005). Bilingual education within the context of English-only policies: Three districts’ responses to Question 2 in Massachusetts. Educational Policy, 19(4), 595-620.