Hala Sun—who recently earned her Ph.D. in Education and is a recipient of a Dean’s Ambassador Circle scholarship—comes from a multicultural background and is fluent in five languages. Sun, from South Korea, is interested in studying heritage language maintenance and educational policies related to immigrant students’ academic performances.
GGSE: Tell us a little bit about the hybridization of language practices of multilingual children.
Sun: There is a lot of different research out there about the language practices of multilingual children, such as code-switching and translanguaging. However, these are focused on the language aspects. I propose ‘Hybrid Semiotic Practices’ as the ideal framework to understand and acknowledge their multilingual competence includes their hybridity of language and semiotics (e.g., embodiment/gestures, affect, sounds, etc.). There is a deficit perspective that multilingual people are randomly mixing languages and are lacking proficiency when we see them use hybridity. However, I argue that multilinguals take agency to innovatively, strategically, and collaboratively practice hybrid semiotics to negotiate meaning, to show their identity and community of practice, and to make meaning of their worlds.
GGSE: How has GGSE impacted your passion for education?
Sun: The Gevirtz School, specifically all the professors, have been an inspiration for me to succeed. They were supportive of my work, and their work laid the foundation so that I can become a better scholar and educator.
GGSE: What’s next for you?
Sun: I just accepted a teaching faculty position with the English for Multilingual Students (EMS) program under the Linguistics Department here at UCSB. I'll be starting this fall!
GGSE: Are there people at the Gevirtz School you would like to thank?
Sun: I want to thank my advisor Dr. Jin Sook Lee. She was the reason I came to UCSB over Columbia University. She is very well known in the world of heritage language and multilingual learners, and I wanted to learn and grow under her mentorship. And I did! She is super critical, but if you pass Dr. Lee, then you come out to be awesome. She wrote millions of letters of support, believed in me when I was unsure, guided me to excel and only go for the best, and most importantly trusted me and showed me grace. I am just very excited to collaboratively work with her more in the near future!