31 SES 09, Language in Transnational Educational Fields between Brazil and Europe
This paper will present and discuss selected results from the ongoing research project “Transnational Education and Social Positioning between Brazil and Europe” (Fürstenau 2015). The project investigates educational careers, strategies and orientations of transnational families in different social and economic contexts. Ethnographic field research (participant observation, interviews) is conducted in Brazil and Germany. The paper will focus on language education in transnational families as well as in educational institutions. Particular educational institutions seem to play an important role from the perspectives of transnational families. The paper will discuss to what extent and in which ways these institutions foster the development of multilingual skills as ‘transnational cultural capital’ Transnational social spaces are multilingual spaces. In them, different languages serve different purposes depending on social contexts. As such, they constitute “linguistic markets” (Bourdieu 1977): arenas of competition, in which the social value of the speaker, of his language and of the corresponding contexts are mutually shaped. This value is essential to the educational strategies and orientations in transnational families. Results from two areas of the investigation will be discussed: Language practices and language-related educational strategies in transnational families (a) and the role of educational institutions (b). (a) Interviews suggest that language use and language education within families are strongly related to the family’s socio-economic situation and migration context. (b) The role of educational institutions also differs depending on socio-economic context: Transnational social elites benefit from a wide network of mostly private organizations that help them to acquire and maintain the multilingual skills required for a transnational educational career. In contrast, migrant families with few economic resources are more dependent on informal networks and public educational institutions. The latter rarely prepare their students for transnational careers. However, particular institutions, like heritage language classes in public schools and certain Studienkollegs (colleges that prepare foreign students to study at a university in Germany) seem to meet the needs of transnational families and to foster the multilingual capacities of their attendees. The paper will discuss in which way national educational institutions like these influence the “linguistic market” and if, in so doing, they contribute to (or mitigate) social inequalities in transnational educational fields.
BOURDIEU, Pierre (1977): The economics of linguistic exchanges. Social Science Information, 16, 6: 645–668. FÜRSTENAU, Sara (2015): Educação transnacional e posicionamento social entre o Brasil e a Europa. Um estudo qualitativo com famílias migrantes. In BAHIA, Joana und SANTOS, Miriam (Hg.) Migraçoes, redes e trajétorias entre a Alemanha e o Brasil, Porto Alegre: Letra e Vida, 69–86.
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