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Multilingual Identities and Heterogeneous Language Ideologies in the New Latino Diaspora

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This presentation explores how language ideologies—beliefs about immigrant students’ language use—carry conflicting images of Spanish speakers in one town that has received thousands of Mexican immigrants over the past two decades. I describe how teachers and students encounter, negotiate, and appropriate divergent ideologies about immigrant students’ language use in school, and I show how these ideologies convey different messages about belonging to the community and to the nation. Dominant ideologies vary both across types of speaker and across level of schooling. Elementary educators and students, for example, had a positive, “bilinguals-in-the-making” ideology about Spanish-speaking students, while secondary educators used more familiar deficit accounts.

Stanton Wortham is the Charles F. Donovan, S.J., Dean of the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. He earned his B.A. with highest honors from Swarthmore College and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in Human Development. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and has been a Javits Fellow, a Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellow, a National Academy of Education Postdoctoral Fellow, a W.T. Grant Foundation Distinguished Fellow and an American Educational Research Association Fellow. His research applies techniques from linguistic anthropology to study interaction, learning and identity development in classrooms and organizations. For the past decade he has done research with Mexican immigrant and Mexican American adolescents who live in areas of the United States that have only recently become home to large numbers of Latinos. This work explores the challenges and opportunities facing both Latino newcomers and host communities, in places where models of and practices for dealing with newcomers are often more fluid than in areas with longstanding Latino populations.

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group series.

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