Defining bilingualism : the language ideologies and linguistic practices of bilingual teachers from the U.S.-Mexico border

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2015-05

Authors

Zúñiga, Christian Ellen

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Abstract

This study examines how three heritage bilingual teachers from the Texas U.S.-Mexico border articulate their understanding of bilingualism and how they embody those understandings in their classroom language practices and policies. All three teachers were assigned to a “one way” dual language classroom in first or third grade. I draw on theoretical frameworks related to language policy, language ideology, and borderland and postcolonial perspectives of languaging. Key findings suggest that the teachers defined bilingualism around ideas of adequacy that ranged across contexts, interpretation of second language acquisition theories, and an ability to meet the demands of academic language. Additionally, the teachers’ articulated and embodied ideologies drew on a spectrum of language practices and language ideologies that co-existed in the same classroom. Finally, the teachers’ practices and policies were situated within larger, pervasive schooling structures, like standardized assessment. The findings have implications for how bilingualism is understood and supported for language minority students, particularly in the areas of teacher education, language and assessment policy, and theory describing the relationship between language and identity.

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