WP40 Analysing class & ethnicity as communicative practices: A case study of migration-based multilingualism in Upstate New York

Collins & La Santa
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Although the educational difficulties Latinos experience in US are well-documented, the interplay between social class and ethnic status is controversial and poorly understood. Additionally, we lack models which translate ethnicity and class, as social categories, into the processual and interactional concepts likely to generate insight into learning processes. In order to address these issues, we have conducted a study of the influences of ethnonational status and social class position on how immigrant Hispanic children encounter and acquire English. The study analyzes ethnicity and class in of terms of social networks, transnational orientations, and multilingual experiences, developing “communicative practices” approach to these social-structural categories. It analyzes how ethnicity and class devolve into communicative settings and interactions and the implications of setting and interaction on identity formation and language learning. We have preliminary evidence that middle-class participants are differentially likely to live in close-knit communities versus diffused networks, that ethnonational groups differ in the strength of ties they maintain with their country of origin, and that class-and-ethnicity influence the linguistic regimes children encounter in schools.