America is a land of diverse languages. From its earliest days, residents spoke French, Spanish, Pidgeons, Creoles and many other languages and language varieties. Over time, language became linked with identity. Dennis Barron points out that in the 1750s settlers in Pennsylvania began to resent the growing number of German immigrants and sought—though ultimately failed—to declare English the national language. Even Benjamin Franklin implied that those who did not speak English were less American, criticizing those who spoke Pennsylvania Dutch "as a colony of aliens" (Trimbur 580). Now, the rhetoric remains: in order to be a patriotic American, one must speak perfect English—yet, this is something that does not and cannot exist. The problem with this notion, as Horner et al. point out, is that it implies we must "eradicate difference in the name of achieving correctness" (306). As composition instructors, we recognize the need for students to learn academic English—it will help them in their other coursework and possibly in their careers. However, we should do so in a way that fosters language diversity, recognizing and respecting students' native dialects.
Too often, language other than standard academic English (SAE) is seen as inferior or "incorrect" by both students and teachers. Instead of embracing our diverse language histories, students are taught that one homogenous language—one that no one naturally speaks—is best. This notion leads to what Horner and Trimbur call a "tacit policy of English Only" in US college composition courses (594). To combat this trend of sameness in the composition classroom, multimodal composing can help instructors foster language diversity in our writing courses. Multimodal composition—defined by Cynthia Selfe as anything that moves beyond alphabetic text (3) and for the purposes of this webtext refers to composition tools that invoke visuals, media, or audio such as blogging, wikis, webtexts, or recordings. As we remix and remediate our current ideas of academic composition, we can concurrently remediate our language values. Technology offers new approaches to fostering language diversity.