Investigating primary school children’s multilingual identities


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  • Although Divora was born and brought up in England, she assumes her parents’ ethnic identity. She tries to find a balanced response to what she was told about a child assuming her parents’ national identity despite being brought up in another country. Firstly, she says she feels equally from England and Eritrea but then she goes for what she was told previously.
  • Interesting remark indicating that Hadi’s brother makes a direct conscious link between speaking English and being stupid. The family is practising Muslims and very close to their home culture. They often speak in Arabic to their parents at the end of the day in the playground. Hadi often talks about what he learns in Arabic school on Saturday and likes to write his name in Arabic when filling in a worksheet in the classroom.
  • Point out that the word imposed was replaced by inherited. This change occurred after studying and reflecting on the work of Garcia, Blackledge, Creese and Cummins about dynamic bilingualism / Translanguaging as opposed to additive or subtractive bilingualism. Again, Divora assumes her parents’ discourse as her own, e.g. Eritrea’s costumes and culture. Interesting use of the pronoun WE in her discourse as well, i.e. she feels part of that country despite the fact that she’s never been to Eritrea.
  • Previously, Samuel said that he speaks “better English” but now he claims he feels different because of the accent “of the English people”. Does it mean he doesn’t think his English accent is as “native” as somebody else born in England? He also thinks he’s Brazilian accent is like a native, however, by talking to him, any Brazilian would say that he speaks with a foreign accent.
  • Investigating primary school children’s multilingual identities

    1. 1. Investigating Primary School Children’s Multilingual Identities: A Case Study Deivis D. Pothin , MA BAAL 2011 - 3 rd September 2011 St Luke’s CE Primary School
    2. 2. <ul><li>Negotiation and construction of ethnic and linguistic identities of four bilingual children in a primary school in London, England. </li></ul>Background Information H , 9 year-old boy; born in Iraq; speaks English and Arabic. S , 9 year-old boy; born in England; parents from Brazil, speaks English and Portuguese. D ; 9 year-old girl; born in England; parents from Eritrea; speaks English and claims to speak German, Italian and one of the languages from Eritrea. S , 9 year-old girl; parents from Bangladesh; speaks English and Bengali;
    3. 3. (1) How do the children define what ethnic and linguistic group(s) they belong to?
    4. 4. (2) How do the children define what ethnic and linguistic group(s) they belong to?
    5. 5. (1) How do the children deal with inherited cultural heritage?
    6. 6. (1) How do the children use language to establish their ethnic identity?
    7. 7. Language and Identity <ul><li>“ At the same time as arguing that languages are social constructs, however, we argue that many people (...) contend that languages are salient dimensions of their sense of self. That is, some people’s ‘identity’ is inexorably linked to their </li></ul><ul><li>‘ language’ “. Blackledge & Creese </li></ul><ul><li>(2010, p.17) </li></ul>
    8. 8. Some thoughts... <ul><li>1. When children’s ethnic and linguistic identity(ies) are acknowledged and valued by the teacher and other pupils, they tend to assume a more active role in the classroom, leading to a positive impact on their social skills and also learning. </li></ul>2. Having the opportunity to share and practise their languages in school enables children to be more self-confident, which also leads to better readiness to learn.
    9. 9. Where next? <ul><li>To conclude, I argue that more school teachers </li></ul><ul><li>should be made aware of: </li></ul><ul><li>The importance of promoting and giving children a space to use their languages/identities in the mainstream classroom, e.g. Identity Texts (Cummins,2005) </li></ul><ul><li>The principles of flexible bilingualism (Blackledge & Creese, 2010) / translanguaging (Garc í a, 2009) and how they can be integrated in the mainstream classroom; </li></ul><ul><li>The importance and impact of complementary schools on children’s lives and literacy practices.(Blackledge & Creese, 2010; Kenner, 2004; Kenner et al., 2010) </li></ul>
    10. 10. References <ul><li>Blackledge, Creese. (2010). Multilingualism, A </li></ul><ul><li>Critical Perspective , London, Continuum. </li></ul><ul><li>Cummins et al. (2005). Affirming Identity in Multilingual Classrooms . Educational Leadership 63 (1), p.38 -43. </li></ul><ul><li>Edwards (2009). Language and Identity . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. </li></ul><ul><li>García, Ofelia. (2009). Bilingual Education in the 21st century: A global perspective . Malden, Ma.and Oxford: Wiley/Blackwell. </li></ul><ul><li>Kenner, C. (2004). Becoming Biliterate: Young Children Learning Different Writing Systems . Stoke-on-Trent, Trentham Books </li></ul><ul><li>Kenner, C., Ruby, M. and Gregory, E. (2010)  Teacher partnerships between mainstream and complementary schools :  from parallel worlds to connected curricula. NALDIC Quarterly 7 (2), 46-48. </li></ul>
    11. 11. Contact details <ul><li>Website: </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter : @dpothin </li></ul><ul><li>E-mail: [email_address] </li></ul>