Betsy R. Rymes

Associate Professor

Educational Linguistics Division

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania

Phone: 215-746-7878


Professional Biography

Dr. Rymes’ career began in Los Angeles, where she taught junior high school and adult English language learners for three years. To follow up on the issues of language and culture that she experienced and found compelling as a classroom teacher, she pursued a master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language and a doctoral degree in Applied Linguistics.

From 1998 to 2007, Dr. Rymes was a professor in the University of Georgia’s department of language and literacy education, where she continued to study issues of language and culture in classroom contexts and beyond. In 2002, she founded the TELL (Teachers for English Language Learners) program, a five-year project funded by the U.S. Department of Education, designed to bring bilingual community members into the teaching profession.

Dr. Rymes’ university teaching has focused on integrating discourse analysis and concepts from linguistic anthropology with a study of the conditions of multilingualism in school contexts. All the courses she teaches are designed to help students develop critical reflexivity regarding the role of language in social life and learning.

Research Interests and Current Projects

Dr Rymes’ research, theoretically and methodologically informed by linguistic anthropology, is centered in educational contexts and examines how languages, social interaction, and institutions influence an individual’s educational trajectory.

Currently, Dr. Rymes is investigating how multilingual adolescent students’ communicative repertoires are shaped by their experiences outside classrooms and the effects those out-of-class experiences and ways of speaking have on in-class social relations and learning.

Her research on students and teaching in multiple contexts, ranging from a Los Angeles alternative school, to rural elementary schools in Georgia, to bilingual teacher education, to her own experiences as a teacher, all inform her new book, Classroom Discourse Analysis: A Tool for Critical Reflection.

Selected Publications

Rymes, B.: Deference, denial, and beyond: A repertoire approach to mass media and schooling. Review of Research in Education 35(1): 208-238, 2011.

Rymes, B.R.: Communicative repertoires and English Language Learners. The education of English language learners: Research to practice. Marilyn Shatz and Louis C. Wilkinson (eds.). Guilford Press, 2010.

Rymes, B.R.: Classroom discourse analysis: A focus on communicative repertoires. Sociolinguistics and Language Education. N. Hornberger & S. McKay (eds.). Multilingual Matters, 2010.

Rymes, B.: Why and why not? Narrative approaches in the social sciences. Narrative Inquiry 20(2), 2010.

Rymes, B.: Dimensions of discourse and identity. Sites of Possibility: Critical Dialogue across Educational Settings. L.B. Jennings, P.C. Jewett, T.T. Laman, M.V. Souto-Manning, & J. Wilson (eds.). Hampton Press, Page: 193-220, 2010.

Rymes, B. R.: Classroom Discourse Analysis: A Tool for Critical Reflection. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2009.

Betsy R Rymes: The relationship between mass media and classroom discourse. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics 23(1): 65-88, 2008.

Rymes, B. R.: Language socialization and the linguistic anthropology of education. Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 2nd Revised Edition. N. Hornberger and P. Duff (eds.). New York: Springer, 2008.

Cahnmann, M., Rymes, B. R., & Suoto-Manning, M.: Using critical discourse analysis to understand and facilitate identification processes of bilingual adults becoming teachers. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies 2005.

Rymes, B. R., & Anderson, K.: Second language acquisition for all: Understanding the interactional dynamics of classrooms in which Spanish and AAE are spoken. Research in the Teaching of English 29(2): 107-135, 2004.

Rymes, B. R.: Contrasting zones of comfortable competence: Popular culture in a phonics lesson. Linguistics & Education 14: 321-335, 2004.

Rymes, B. R.: Relating word to world: Indexicality during literacy events. The Linguistic Anthropology of Education. S. E. F. Wortham & B. Rymes (eds.). Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2003.

Rymes, B. R.: Eliciting narratives, producing identites: Text-linked versus socially contingent processes for narrating the self. Research in the Teaching of English 2003.

Wortham, S. E. F., & Rymes, B. R. (Eds.): The Linguistic Anthropology of Education. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003.

Rymes, B. R.: Language in development in the United States: Supervising adult ESOL pre-service teachers in an immigrant community. TESOL Quarterly 36(3), 2002.

Rymes, B. R.: Conversational Borderlands: Language and Identity in an Alternative Urban High School. New York: Teachers College Press, 2001.

Rymes, B. R. & Pash, D.: Questioning identity: The case of one second language learner. Anthropology & Education Quarterly 32(3): 276-300, 2001.