31 SES 14 B, (ROOM CHANGE) English as Additional and Foreign Language
This research explores how new migrant and international students’ who have English as an additional language (EAL) use pragmatic interaction strategies to negotiate social identities (Jenkins, 2008) within an English medium, schooling environment in Auckland New Zealand. The ways in which students’ linguistic, social and cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1984; Bourdieu & Passeron, 1998) are used in school, the students sense of scholarly investment (Norton-Peirce, 1995) in these elements of capital and the pragmatic interaction strategies in which their capital manifests in a two years of high stakes English orientated assessment were the foci of the research. This research has adopted a critical ethnographic methodology framed by Bourdieu’s concepts of capital, and habitus as manifest in the social field of school. Participants’ voice emerged through an ongoing dialogic process of interviews, classroom observations and participants’ reflective journaling.
Findings which emerged from the expression of participant voice, suggest that participants face conflicting choices. While they hold a strong desire to retain their L1, they are immersed in a scholarly environment that places high value on English use. This coupled with the low use of L1 in academic settings created a discourse of a linguistic hierarchy (May, 2007) in which English came to be a valued form of linguistic capital. This served to construct an English language focused scholarly identity amongst participants. EAL students adopted various pragmatic interactive strategies. EAL students often used a ‘foxhole’ strategy in which they would interact in English medium with each other as a way to manage the ever growing academic and English orientated language requirements of senior secondary school. The significance of these findings, for participants and the wider EAL student population, is that an understanding of how their own pragmatic interaction strategies and language use, impact upon their negotiated scholarly identity.
This research aims to reconceptualise notions of scholarly identity and ‘scholarly habitus’ (Watkins & Noble, 2013) shaped around the existing L1 linguistic capital of EAL . students. Teacher promotion of linguistic safe houses (Canagarajah, 1997) shaped around EAL students ‘funds of knowledge’ (González, Moll, & Amanti, 2005) such as their L1, could enhance scholarly investment (Norton-Peirce, 1995) amongst EAL students.
A critical ethnographic methodology was adopted which was framed by Bourdieu’s concepts of capital, and habitus as manifest in the social field of school. Participants’ voice emerged through an ongoing dialogic process of interviews, classroom observations and participants’ reflective journaling. I sought to make reflexivity an intrinsic part of the research process. As Canagarajah (1995) notes methodologies that engage in reflexivity during the research process promote a “Sustained and rigorous exploration of the ways (my own) subjectivity influences the research process” (p. 325). While Block, Warr, Gibbs and Riggs (2013) have argued that “ethical reflexivity is … essential when researchers and research participants have disparate life-world’s” (p. 71). My participants and I come from different life-worlds. I am a teacher and researcher born and raised in New Zealand who has had all the benefits of being part of the English speaking Anglo majority culture of New Zealand. Where as participants in my research where high school students who where born in a country other than New Zealand, had some experience of schooling in their country of birth and are members of ethnic and linguistic minorities in New Zealand. Given these disparate life-worlds, I sought to engage in ethical reflexivity when acknowledging my privileged positions and the power relations with participants that manifest between participants and I. This was done in a constant feedback loop never assuming that the reflexivity box has been ticked, rather consistently revising and revisiting emerging themes in a non-linear fashion.
Findings - The focus on English in school. EAL students promoted an affirmation of the notion of the teacher holder of knowledge and expressed desire to seek teacher out for help in favour of peers when specific clarifications of content/vocabulary needed. EAL students expressed frustration at not understanding communicative English in early period of stay, identified this as a factor that contributed to isolation and loneliness. EAL students tended to minimise the role of their first language (L1) when studying for examinations and/or doing assessments in favour of English. Findings - Perceptions of L1 and School EAL students identified a lack of L1 interlocutors in school to share work with as a barrier of L1 usage (particularly from students from Cambodia, Burma, Japan and Thailand). EAL students identified desire to seek out English speaking peers over L1 peers for clarification as they found L1 peers had same misunderstanding with content/vocabulary (particularly from students from China and Korea). EAL students identified fears of losing L1 as English comes to dominate there interactions. EAL students identified families and their own desire to retain elements of their L1 and culture as intrinsic to their own identity, however they regarded this as only appropriate when applied to the home environment and not for academic settings.
Block, K., Warr, D., Gibbs, L., & Riggs, E. (2013). Addressing ethical and methodological challenges in research with refugee-background young people: reflections from the field. Journal of Refugee Studies, 26(1), 69-87. Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bourdieu, P. & Passeron, J.C. (1998). Reproduction in education, society and culture. London, UK: Sage Publications. Canagarajah, A. S. (1995). From critical research practice to critical research reporting. TESOL Quarterly, 30(2), 321-330. Canagarajah, A. S. (1997). Safe Houses in the Contact Zone: Coping Strategies of African-American Students in the Academy. College Composition and Communication, 48(2), 173-196. González, N., Moll, L. C., & Amanti, C. (2005). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practice in households, communities, and classrooms. Mahwah, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates. Jenkins, R. (2008). Rethinking ethnicity. London, UK: Sage Publications. May, S. (2007). Sustaining Effective Literacy Practices Over Time in Secondary Schools: School Organisational and Change Issues. Language and Education, 21(5), 387-405. Norton-Peirce, B. (1995). Social Identity, Investment, and Language Learning. TESOL quarterly, 29(1), 9-31. Watkins, M., & Noble, G. (2013). Disposed to learn: ethnicity, schooling and the scholarly habitus. London, Bloomsbury.
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