WP41 Where’s class in second language learning?

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It is well-established that social class is an important aspect of the demography of immigration (Sassen, 1997), but how class conditions are understood, by immigrants as well as by member of the host society, is much less well studied. Similarly, although the influence of social class on language use and educational attainment is well-documented for native US populations (Heath, 1983; Lareau, 2003), its influence on immigrant language learning and education is under-studied (Chavez, 1992; Zentella, 1997). In the literature on second language learning, there is awareness that social identities play an important role in learning dynamics (Norton Pierce, 2002), but little attention to evidence that role class conditions also play a role in (second) language learning (Farr, 2005; Rampton et al., 2006). The reasons for this neglect are discussed, along with a proposal for new approaches to class analysis, capable of grappling with multilingual diversity and transnational identities, conceptualizing class as a process rather than structural given.