Negotiating epistemic congruence

Students’ lived experiences of learning spaces in a contact zone classroom


  • Angelica Granqvist Stockholm University


Contact zone, Epistemic congruence, Spatial repertoire, Linguistic repertoire, Learning spaces, Swedish as a second language


Based on fieldwork in an upper-secondary school in Sweden, this paper centers on Swedish as two school-subjects: Swedish (SWE) and Swedish as a second language (SSL), as taught in one class. Adhering to separate curricula, and taught by SWE and SSL teachers respectively, they are often implemented as physically separated subjects. By contrast, this paper explores three different learning spaces in relation to everyday negotiations of belonging and participation among the migrant language learners: combined whole-class teaching, a separate SSL group, and combined book-group discussions. Drawing from the notion of the classroom as a contact zone (Canagarajah, 2020) and theory of spatial repertoire (Pennycook & Otsuji, 2014), I discuss how minoritized second language learners negotiated social belonging and linguistic participation in these differently embodied learning spaces. Engaging a linguistic ethnographic approach, the data production consisted of fieldnotes from classroom observations, audio-recorded book discussions and semi-structured interviews. The material was analyzed by means of an epistemic stance analysis. Findings indicate that while an epistemic incongruence prevailed in the combined whole-class teaching, the reverse was found in the separate SSL group. In the space between these opposites, the book-group discussions served as a growing ground for epistemic congruence at the interface of SWE and SSL. The article thus contributes insights into how the organization of SWE and SSL affects how students navigate their multiple and hybrid identities as well as the extent to which they feel a sense of social belonging in order to fully participate in different educational practices.



2023-05-25 — Updated on 2023-10-09


How to Cite

Granqvist, A. (2023). Negotiating epistemic congruence: Students’ lived experiences of learning spaces in a contact zone classroom . Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies, 17(2), 28–51. (Original work published May 25, 2023)