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Steve Przymus - Texas Christian University. Fort Worth, TX, US

Steve Przymus Steve Przymus

Assistant Professor | Texas Christian University


Steve Daniel Przymus, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of Bilingual Education/ESL at Texas Christian University.





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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. Przymus’s research focuses 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.

His philosophy about language is based on the three orientations of language: language-as-problem, as-resource and as-right (Ruiz, 1984). Przymus approaches his research and teaching based on trying to make language seen as a resource and a right, and not a problem. Culturally and linguistically diverse students are often called ESL, Limited English Proficient or English language learners, which just focusses on English and misses the point that these students already speak other languages. He uses the term ‘emergent bilingual,' which places an emphasis on the resource of being/becoming bilingual. He says, “The words we use matter, and deficit terms implicitly lead teachers and even kids to embrace identities as problems, limiting expectations for them.

Przymus has also created a new model of dual language instruction that structures every content lesson into an English immersion and Spanish immersion with a third part of class for translanguaging. “If you’re bilingual, you have the ability to draw from the features of multiple named languages or translanguage.” Traditionally schools have looked down on this – even in bilingual education – but forcing students to learn in only one language at a time limits students’ ability to use their full linguistic repertoire. “It’s a strong myth – that using two languages somehow confuses students,” he says.

Przymus is doing related work advocating for emergent bilinguals with disabilities. He authored a book chapter in the fall on appropriate instruction and assessment for this population. “It’s important we allow students their full linguistic repertoire, particularly in assessment,” he says.

Areas of Expertise (7)

Language Planning & Policy

Assessment in Bilingual Special Education

Bilingual Education Models




Linguistic Landscapes

Accomplishments (3)

Donovan/Patton National Impact Scholar


Fulbright Alumni Grant Recipient

2015, 2011, 2010

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Grantee


Education (3)

University of Arizona: Ph.D., Second Language Acquisition & Teaching 2016

University of Northern Iowa: M.A., TESOL & Applied Linguistics 2008

University of South Dakota: B.S.Ed., Spanish Education 1996

Affiliations (10)

  • FWISD World Languages Institute Site-Based Decision Making Committee Member
  • FWISD International Newcomers Academy Site-Based Decision Making Committee Member
  • TCU Center for Public Education Faculty
  • TCU ANSERS Institute for Special Education Faculty
  • TCU Comparative Race & Ethnic Studies Affiliated Faculty
  • TCU Women & Gender Studies Affiliated Faculty
  • American Association of Applied Linguistics Member
  • American Educational Research Association Member
  • National Association of Bilingual Education Member
  • Bilingual Education Association of the Metroplex Member

Languages (3)

  • English
  • Spanish
  • Somali

Media Appearances (1)

TESOLers for Social Responsibility

TESOL International Association  online


¿Eres un gamer? This question is an example of the translanguaging and language socialization that takes place in the game-ecology of massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), such as Dark Souls. This article highlights the need for creating opportunities for Dreamers and Los Otros Dreamers (Anderson & Solís, 2014), on both sides of the border, for language and identity socialization within peer-interest-based communities of practice. Findings suggest that creating blended affinity spaces (Przymus & Romo Smith, 2017) for youth to play MMORPGs at school could provide for the maintenance of online connections with friends in their home countries, the creation of important friendships in their new communities, and the development of positive identities needed for successful and healthy integration in their new schools

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Articles (8)

Appropriate Assessment e Instrucción de los Emergent Bilinguals con Disabilities.

Instructional Leadership in the Content Areas: Case Studies for Leading Curriculum and Instruction

Steve Daniel Przymus

2019 As compelling as the argument for supporting the home language of emergent bilinguals (EBs) with disabilities is (Kay-Raining Bird, Trudeau, & Sutton, 2016; Peña, 2016), administrators, educators, and parents often rely on beliefs that undermine abilities and expectations for these children to learn bilingually. One trend is to remove students from dual-language classrooms to focus on the development of English skills (Kay-Raining Bird, Genesee, & Verhoeven, 2016; Paradis, 2016; NASEM, 2017). This can result in loss of bilingual identity and peer social networks and can have a negative psychological and academic impact (Parra, Evans, Fletcher, & Combs, 2014). This practice can stem from a lack of understanding of translanguaging in the assessment and instruction of EBs and the tendency of leaders to understand bilingualism through a monolinguistic paradigm, leading to the “language-as-problem” orientation (Martínez-Álvarez, 2014; Przymus, 2016). A partial solution can come from recognizing this orientation in school discourse and countering the following common myths regarding the placement of EBs with disabilities in dual-language classrooms (NASEM, 2017): • Exposure to or learning more than one language will overwhelm and confuse children with disabilities. • Code-switching practices of EBs are evidence of confusion. • Existing learning and language deficits will be worsened by exposure to more than one language, limiting the ability of these students to successfully learn English. • EBs should stop using their first language (L1) at home and school, in order to learn English.

SIGNS: Uncovering the mechanisms by which messages in the linguistic landscape influence language/race ideologies and educational opportunities: Linguistics and education

Linguistics and Education

Steve Daniel Przymus, Alan Thomas Kohler

2018 The collocations “hidden agendas” and “implicit messages” are commonly used to describe the influence of our linguistic landscape (LL) on language ideologies and subsequent pedagogical decisions in schoolscapes. However, exactly how these messages wield such suggestive power has gone relatively unexplored. In this study, we introduce the Semiotic Index of Gains in Nature and Society (SIGNS), an example of a potential framework for LL analysis that investigates 1) historical and synchronic perspectives of place, 2) messages on syntagmatic and paradigmatic axes, 3) elective vs. circumstantial reverse indexicality, 4) societal myths (Barthes, 1972), and 5) messages as metonyms/metaphors. Using SIGNS, we analyze 30 school neighborhoods in an American Southwest border town and find that wealthier neighborhoods are more likely to have LLs indexed by Spanish than English, and these neighborhoods are subsequently more likely to support bilingual education. This research demonstrates how semiotics, bilingual education, and LL research can together provide for an interdisciplinary approach to better understanding specifically how and why our LLs are implicitly influential.

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¿Eres un Gamer?: Engaging Transnational Children in Game-Ecology Language and Identity Socialization Within the EFL Environment

Applications of CALL Theory in ESL and EFL Environments

Steve Daniel Przymus and Alejandro Romo Smith

2018 This chapter sheds light on the potential impact of CALL theory and practice on the language and identity socialization of transnational children when educators imagine and promote interaction beyond the classroom. The authors focus specifically on the educational trajectories of 1) children returnees, who were born in Mexico, at some point in their lives moved to the U.S., and then returned to Mexico and 2) international migrants, born and many attended school in the U.S., and then moved to Mexico as a result of repatriation and/or deportation (Zúñiga & Vivas-Romero, 2014). The authors advocate creating blended affinity spaces (Przymus, 2016) at schools where youth can meet and play digital role-playing games, discuss game-ecology literacy development within these spaces, detail the implementation of such spaces in schools, and share game screen shots, blog posts, and the perspectives of transnational students that support this kind of learning within the EFL environment.

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Bilingually traversing the US/Mexico "wall" via a classroom telecollaborative exchange: Translanguaging online with the Functional Approach to Code-switching Electronically (FACE)

Issues and Trends in Educational Technology

Steve Daniel Przymus

2017 This study proposes to make the concept of translanguaging online accessible for teachers who wish to connect their classrooms with students in other countries via telecollaboration projects. I explore the role of instructed code-switching, as a strategic and intentional translanguaging strategy, for developing learners’ symbolic competence and in promoting the kind of communication in transnational telecollaboration projects that leads to positive bilingual identity and language development. The majority of telecollaboration projects reported in the literature describe projects at the university language classroom setting and the varied dysfunctions that may lead to “failed communication” (O’Dowd & Ritter, 2013) or “missed communication” (Ware, 2005). In contrast, the study within describes the successful impact of a pedagogical intervention, the Functional Approach to Code-switching Electronically (FACE) (Author, 2014), that fostered intercultural understanding among public high school students in an American Government class in the Southwestern United States and students in an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) class in the Central Pacific Coast of Mexico. Findings demonstrate how teachers can adopt translanguaging practices in their classrooms by instructing the purposeful use of code-switching for facilitating the development of students’ L2, content acquisition, symbolic competence, and positive identities as bilinguals. In doing so, students are given the strategies needed to successfully play within the power games situated across semi-anonymous online borders, walls, and contact zones (Vinall, 2010).

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The Subliminal Influence of Street Signs in Schoolscapes: Elective vs. Circumstantial Reverse Indexicality in a Tale of Two Tucsons

The Arizona Working Papers in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching

Steve Daniel Przymus

2017 There is a risk of diluting our logic by looking at things absolutely (Peirce, in Hoopes, 1991, p. 187). Signs gain their meaning, not in any absolute sense, but rather in relation to their context in any given time, and in relation to their meaning to any given interpreter. According to Eco (1979) “A sign is everything which can be taken as significantly substituting for something else” (p. 7). A sign not only stands for something, but it stands to someone and that important relationship with the signs in our landscape is what I discuss below. I begin in section one by describing two parts of Tucson, a city of around one million inhabitants in the Southwest of the United States, that are different in many ways, but curiously differ in their linguistic landscapes. In section two I define linguistic landscapes and situate an analysis of street signs within linguistic landscape research. Section three is a diachronic and synchronic analysis of street signs in Tucson, including the myths (Barthes, 1972) that have accompanied the acceptance of street sign language at different points in the city’s history and how these myths have served to promulgate what Jane Hill (1993) refers to as a larger social project of the white elite in maintaining a dominant economic and political position of power in society. In section four I focus on how street signs interact with all those who view them on both the syntagmatic and paradigmatic axes. A deeper explanation of how these linguistic messages enter our cognition and influence our ideologies continues in section five with a description of the various conceptual metonyms and metaphors born out of street sign language and organization. All of these sections treating the unconscious understanding and influence of street signs feed into section six and a discussion on the seemingly conscious and intentional authorship in linguistic landscapes (Malinowski, 2008) and how the expected commitment of top-down governmental signs, such as street signs, to the linguistic code of the dominant culture (Gorter, 2006), is violated in both parts of Tucson through reverse indexicality.

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Challenging the monolingual paradigm in secondary dual-language instruction: Reducing language-as-problem with the 2-1-L2 model

Bilingual Research Journal

Steve Daniel Przymus

2016 This study reports on an innovative approach to dual-language instruction (DLI) at the secondary-education level and introduces the 2–1-L2 model. The context of the study is an American Government class at a public charter high school in Tucson, Arizona, where the 2–1-L2 model was used for nine weeks to structure daily 90-minute lessons into a 30-minute immersion in English, a 30-minute immersion in Spanish, and a final 30-minute section of hybrid language practices, such as translanguaging (Bhabha, 1994; García & Wei, 2013; Kramsch & Uryu, 2012). The culturally and linguistically diverse participants represented an almost equal division of recursive dynamic bilinguals and dynamic bilinguals, plus an emergent bilingual who had recently moved from Mexico to the United States (García, Kleifgen, & Falchi, 2008; García & Sylvan, 2011). Through the bilingual structure of the 2–1-L2, all students were treated and valued as bilingual content users, as they learned American Government content together, an identity that they claimed for themselves. Findings suggest that the 2–1-L2 model may contribute to providing equal access to world language/English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction for students in content area classes at the secondary level and offer a response to the Language-as-Problem “Θ(threat)-inversion” (Richard Ruiz, personal communication/lecture PowerPoint slides, August 2013).

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Imagining and moving beyond the ESL Bubble: Facilitating communities of practice through the ELL Ambassadors Program

Journal of Language, Identity, & Education

Steve Daniel Przymus

2016 When educators do not facilitate English language learners’ (ELLs) social integration in schools, this can perpetuate ELLs’ marginalized status and the plateauing of ELLs’ English language development. This study highlights a program for secondary ELLs called the ELL Ambassadors program, which partnered ELLs with non-ELLs based on shared extracurricular interests. Comparing the stories, perspectives, and test scores of five newcomer ELLs from varied countries of origin, this article shows how program participants strengthened their English language skills and achieved academic success, demonstrating tremendous agency as they gained access to, and were socialized within, interest-based communities of practice. Further, this article documents how youth imagined and claimed new identities, moving beyond the insulation and isolation of the ESL bubble to gaining confidence through interest-based learning with other peers. Findings suggest that interest-based peer programs at schools may create important opportunities for ELLs’ academic, language, and identity formation.

Negotiating language use in CALL's Fourth Phase: An introduction to a Functional Approach to Code-switching Electronically (FACE)

Arizona Working Papers in Second Language Acquisition & Teaching

Steve Daniel Przymus

2014 This article offers a critical discourse analysis of how language learners negotiate language use in intercultural computer mediated communication (CMC) activities and takes a revitalized and resituated look at code-switching (CS) for the purpose of enhancing the public self-image of online interactants by positioning interactants as proficient second language (L2) users. Warschauer (2000) first proposed the idea of a “third stage” of computer assisted language learning (CALL) where the Internet and multimedia would provide a new type of authentic discourse and open greater opportunities for increased student agency through social interactions (p. 64). Bax (2003) similarly argued for the conception of a “third phase” of CALL. Bax characterized this phase as the ubiquitous use of technology for language learning and the creation of a state of “normalization” of technology use and integration (p. 13). This article proposes a fourth phase (Ariew, 2014) 1 made distinctive by its sociocultural lens used to examine what kinds of knowledge, relationships, and identities are co-constructed through increased intercultural CMC opportunities afforded by CALL’s ubiquitous use. I adopt an approach informed by systemic functional linguistic (SFL)(Eggins, 2004; Halliday, 1985; Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004; Martin & Rose, 2007a, 2008) that demonstrates how language is a meaning making system in intercultural emails.