We Are UNCW

L.J. Randolph Jr.

November 16, 2021

Born in Wilmington, L. J. Randolph Jr., associate professor of Spanish and education, grew up in neighboring towns Bolivia and Riegelwood. From an early age, UNCW was the most immediate reference he had for what a university looked like.

“I’ve always had a special connection to this campus and community,” he said. “I remember how special it was to take field trips to the campus and experience it firsthand.”

One particularly vivid memory Randolph recalls is visiting campus as a high school student in the mid-90s to hear Maya Angelou speak.

Years later, when interviewing at UNCW for his current position, it felt to him like a “coming home” experience. “I was reminded of my younger self who was fascinated by the university,” he said.

Randolph teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Spanish, contemporary Latinx cultures and second-language teaching methods. He is also the coordinator of UNCW’s World Language Teacher Education Program, which prepares and certifies future French and Spanish educators to teach in North Carolina’s K-12 public schools.

Fluent in Spanish, Randolph has dabbled in the study of Quechua, Portuguese and Japanese. He aims to convey to his students “the true power of language learning” and that proficiency isn’t necessarily the end goal.

Randolph believes you should still engage in language study, even if you never become fluent and don’t have the goal of becoming fluent. “Language, culture and identity are inextricably linked. Language study allows us to learn more about others, about our world and about ourselves,” he said.

Last summer Randolph participated in the Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad program in Mexico. For a month, he studied Afro-Mexican cultures, histories, languages and identities, traveling through Mexico, Oaxaca and Veracruz curating materials and resources to develop curricular materials. He was most focused on developing instructional materials for teaching about Blackness in Mexico in ways that highlight narratives of resistance, liberation and joy over narratives of conquering, oppression and victimhood.

Soon he will publish those open-access curricular resources and travel to conferences and institutions to conduct workshops on how the critical study of Afro-Mexicanidad can be incorporated into Spanish courses and instructional contexts.

Like most faculty members, Randolph had to change course modalities because of the pandemic. He converted most of his classes from a face-to-face format to an online asynchronous format. “Language learning is particularly challenging in that type of environment because you lose the natural face-to-face conversational element that is so fundamental to language use,” he said.

Through training and collaboration with colleagues, he adjusted, and now – for some of his classes – he prefers the online asynchronous mode of delivery. “Funny the way that worked out – something that I wasn’t even sure could be done effectively is now my preferred method of instruction!”

-- Caroline Cropp

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