College of Education and Human Development

Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Kendall King

  • Professor of Multilingual Education, Director of Graduate Studies

  • Office Hours

    by appt. please email me for current google calendar appt. slots

Kendall King

Areas of interest

My scholarship addresses sociolinguistic, interactional and policy perspectives on second language learning and bilingualism, with particular attention to educational and familial practices impacting language use, language learning and equity. I teach graduate-level courses in sociolinguistics, language policy, language research methods, English grammar, and language education; teach an undergraduate class in linguistics; and I coordinate the undergraduate TESL minor. I currently co-lead a U.S. Department of Education-funded project (via CARLA) which promotes more equitable access to state seals of biliteracy.


PhD (University of Pennsylvania)


Schools play a crucial role in determining the life trajectories of minoritized language students as well as the status of minoritized languages and the future of linguistic diversity. My research contributes to our understanding of the ways that school and society can support language learning as well as greater social equity.

Minneapolis is home to thousands of immigrant and refugee-background youth, some of whom arrive to the U.S. with limited English skills and few experiences in formal classroom settings. Together with UM professor Martha Bigelow, I have documented how these students engage with English language academic content and acquire literacy skills in their first months here. This research illustrates how first language literacy (e.g., Somali) serves as a powerful resource for students, helping them not only to learn in their academic classes, but to promote English language and literacy development.

My work highlights students’ first languages as an academic resource. This research also has directly impacted Minnesota state policy. For example, I helped to formulate and build support for new legislation that promotes multilingual approaches for English language learners (known as the ‘Learning for Academic Proficiency and Success’ Act, or ‘LEAPS’), which passed in 2014. This advocacy work builds the policy foundation for approaches to teaching immigrant and refugee students in ways that produce optimal long-term academic outcomes, support multilingual development, and promote educational equity in Minnesota and beyond. My work with UM graduate students has analyzed the impact of these policies on schools and students. I am currently leading a U.S. Department of Education-funded project (via CARLA which promotes more equitable access to state seals of biliteracy.

What students can expect from me?

I see advising students as the most important, valuable, and privileged part of my job. My undergraduate and graduate students can expect me to be highly responsive to their work and enthusiastic about a wide range of linguistics topics. My goal is to help all students be professionally and academically successful in their chosen area of work.

I encourage students to email me and visit me during office hours with questions and project ideas. I’m generally available year-round for advising. During the academic year, I expect to check in with Ph.D. students at least twice per month.

In addition to teaching foundation courses for undergraduates, I regularly supervise undergraduate research projects, and I aim to co-publish at least one academic paper with each of my Ph.D. advisees. I expect students to take the initiative on co-authored projects, and especially later in their program, to play a driving role in completing projects.

I expect my graduate students to fully participate in the intellectual and academic life of our program, department, and university. This includes attending and engaging in departmental talks and other learning events. I expect all Ph.D. students to present at local and national conferences on a regular basis and am very happy to support them in this process.

Lastly, I aim for clear, timely, and direct communication and two-way exchanges. Email is often the best way to address administrative issues, but face-to-face/zoom meetings are often better for discussing ideas and more complex topics.

Selected Awards

Linda Duttenhaver Distinguished Alumni Award, University of California Education Abroad Program
For distinguished service and extraordinary achievement, 2023

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)
Research Priorities Initiative, 2019

Helen C. Bailey Alumni Award
For outstanding contributions to the field of education, 2016 

Imagine Fund Annual Award
University of Minnesota, 2014 

CEHD Summer Research Award
University of Minnesota, 2012


  • AAAL, Past President of the American Association of Applied Linguistics 
  • AAA, American Anthropology Association
  • ACTFL, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages 

News Stories

English Learners and Social Media: Can Facebook Boost Literacy in Two Languages?” Education Week, November 2, 2018.


UPDATED: Native Language Literacy Assessment (NLLA) (2022).

Fluegel, S. & King, K.A. (2021). #workfromhome: How multi-level marketers evade and exploit federal language policy for profit. Language Policy.

Schwedhelm, M. & King, K.A. (2020). The neoliberal logic of state seals of biliteracy. Foreign Language Annals, 53 (1), 12-27.

Eslamdoost, S., King, K.A. & Tajeddin, Z. (2020). Professional identity conflict and (re)construction among English teachers in Iran. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 19 (5), 327-341.

Fu, S. & King, K.A. (2019). Data disaggregation and its discontents: Discourses of civil rights, efficiency and ethnic registry. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education.

King, K.A. & Lanza, E. (2019). Ideology, agency, and imagination in multilingual families. International Journal of Bilingualism, 23 (3), 717-723.

King, K.A. & Bigelow, M.* (2018). East African transnational adolescents and cross-border education: An argument for local international learning. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 38, 187-193.

Vanek, J., King, K.A. & Bigelow, M.** (2018). Social presence and identity: Facebook in an English language classroom. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 17 (4), 236-254.

King, K.A. & Bigelow, M. (2018). The language policy of placement tests for newcomer English learners. Educational Policy, 32 (7), 936-968. https://doi:10.1177/0895904816681527

Bigelow, M., Vanek, J., King, K.A., & Abdi, N.** (2017). Literacy as social (media) practice: Refugee youth and native language literacy at school. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 60 (Sept), 183-197.

King, K.A. & Lanza, E.* (2017). Ideology, agency, and imagination in multilingual families: An introduction. International Journal of Bilingualism.