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LINGUIST List 23.3461

Fri Aug 17 2012

Diss: Socioling/Chinese, Mandarin: Qian: 'Multiple languages, multiple worlds...'

Editor for this issue: Lili Xia <lxialinguistlist.org>

Date: 17-Aug-2012
From: Yamin Qian <mindyqiangmail.com>
Subject: Multiple languages, multiple worlds: A case study of the language use of Chinese ELL adolescents in Canada
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Institution: University of Toronto
Program: Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2012

Author: Yamin Qian

Dissertation Title: Multiple languages, multiple worlds: A case study of the language use of Chinese ELL adolescents in Canada

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin (cmn)

Dissertation Director:
Antoinette Gagne

Dissertation Abstract:

Research has shown that late-arriving ELL adolescents are deeply
rooted in the sociocultural and educational system of their home
country for a majority of their schooling time (Duff, 2001; Minichello,
2001). In their transition to a new society in North America, this group
encounters sociocultural and linguistic differences in their daily lives.

Through a lens entitled Critical Multiple Social Spaces, which combines
Multiple Worlds Model (Phelan et al., 1991), Third Space (Bhabha,
1994) and a sociocultural perspective on language use (Fairclough,
2001; Pennycook, 2010), this qualitative case study focuses on 10
Chinese ELL adolescents who came to Canada after the age of 15,
and examines their cross-trajectory experiences of English practice in
their daily lives and their language identities. At the time of this study,
they were at the stage of completing high school and applying for
admission to higher education institutions.

Findings showed that this group's language use in daily life is full of
conflicts, negotiation and consolidation, not only at school as a usual
space of contested language practice, but also at home, with peers
and in other spaces. At school, social division existed both in and out of
class, yet such social division was not merely due to ELL learners'
reluctance to integrate. In addition, participants positioned themselves
differently in English Literature courses and core classes in accordance
with their perceived proficiency. Home - generally regarded as a
traditionally stable space of language practice - became another site of
complex dynamics. Peer networks also emerged as embodying similar
complications. In addition to racial and ethnic factors, age on arrival
and length of residence played a significant role in social interaction,
impacting both same-ethnic and cross-ethnic peer networks.

Based on these findings, four categories are identified pertaining to
participants' cross-trajectory language experiences, in which English
spaces are positioned differently in relation to other spaces. Equally
noteworthy are the dynamics between social spaces, social relations
and language use, which shape - and are shaped by - symbolic
power, investment and language identities. The implications of these
findings on ELL adolescents' language use in a broader migration
world are also discussed.

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