LINGUIST List 24.3794

Thu Sep 26 2013

Diss: Anthro Ling, Discourse Analysis, Lang Acq, Phonology, Psycholing, Socioling: Seals: 'Multilingual Identity Development and Negotiation amongst Heritage Language Learners ...'

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <>

Date: 25-Sep-2013
From: Corinne Seals <>
Subject: Multilingual Identity Development and Negotiation amongst Heritage Language Learners: A study of East European-American schoolchildren in the United States
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Institution: Georgetown University Program: Department of Linguistics Dissertation Status: Completed Degree Date: 2013

Author: Corinne Seals

Dissertation Title: Multilingual Identity Development and Negotiation amongst Heritage Language Learners: A study of East European-American schoolchildren in the United States

Dissertation URL: Proquest Dissertations

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics                             Discourse Analysis                             Language Acquisition                             Phonology                             Psycholinguistics                             Sociolinguistics
Subject Language(s): English (eng)                             Russian (rus)                             Ukrainian (ukr)
Dissertation Director:
Natalie Schilling Laada Bilaniuk Robert J. Podesva Alison Mackey
Dissertation Abstract:

Previous research in the field of heritage language (HL) acquisition has
focused on the connection between frequency of language use and HL
speakers' connection to and maintenance of their HL. This dissertation
introduces the concept of positioning through discourse into the study of
HLs to show evidence that while frequency of HL use contributes to working
HL abilities, the way that HL speakers are positioned contributes to how
strongly they identify with their HL. Additionally, the way that the HL
speakers in this study are positioned by their teachers, parents, siblings,
peers, and school administrators has led them to create a new community of
practice in which the identity feature of being HL speakers of Russian is
the basis for membership.

The data for this dissertation come from an ethnography at a primary school
in rural Oregon, working with generation 1.5 and generation 2 HL speakers
of Russian and/or Ukrainian. Multiple case studies were conducted, focusing
primarily on three students from Ukraine and Latvia: fifth grader Darya,
fourth grader Elena, and first grader Alla at home and at school as they
were socialized (and socialized others) into situational language choice
and use for interactional purposes. 54 hours of in-class and playground
video and audio recordings along with 21 hours of in-home audio recordings
provide the primary data for these focused case studies, accompanied by
interviews with the HL students, their teachers, and their parents. Through
in-depth discourse analyses of the transcribed data and a quantitative
analysis of the frequency of in-home language use, the findings show that
the students' multilingual selves are a combination of their actual
language abilities reflective of their in-home language use patterns and
their self-claimed multilingual identities reflective of how they are
discursively positioned by others. Finally, the students' experiences of
being positioned always by their teacher as HL speakers rather than just
learners through phonological and discursive socialization in the HL
classroom play an important part in their positive orientation to being HL
speakers in their future goal narratives, which notably include the
continued presence of their HLs as a central focus of their lives.

Page Updated: 26-Sep-2013