11 SES 17, Leaving School: Impacts of social categories and power relations in reconstruction of educational biographies of adolescents in Iceland and Germany
Icelandic-born students of immigrant background (IBSIB) are often absent in policy discourse and discussions in the wider society due to the short history of immigration in Iceland (Garðarsdóttir & Hauksson, 2011). IBSIB are defined in this study as persons born in Iceland who have both or at least one immigrant parent. This paper reports findings from the research project Icelandic-born students of immigrant background: Success and challenges in social and academic attainment (2015-2018) that has the overall aim of gaining knowledge about IBSIB's educational and social success and challenges as they complete compulsory school and move on to upper secondary education. Data were collected with semi-structured interviews and participant observations in seven schools attended by IBSIB. The interviews were conducted with 20 youth in their final year of compulsory education, 16 parents and ten supervisory teachers. The data were coded and categorized according to emerging themes relevant to the research focus in the language of the interviews (Kvale and Brinkmann 2009). The study is grounded in the framework of intersectional theory and Cummins' basic interpersonal communicative skills (BICS) and cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) theories. Intersectionality theory recognizes multiple and flexible identities emerging from the various dimensions of people's life experiences, events, and conditions of social and political life (Collins & Bilge, 2016). BICS is about conversational fluency and CALP is about academic language proficiency. CALP is the linguistic proficiency for reading and writing at school and is different from BICS which is about skills used for effective conversational communication. The command of the majority language is often used to determine the students of immigrant background readiness for education (Cummins, 2008). The findings showed IBSIBs possessed a wealth of linguistic and cultural knowledge and were actively applying it in their daily lives, but only outside of school. The majority of the parents were tenacious in teaching their children the language and culture of their home country. Some of the youth, besides being able to speak their heritage languages fluently, can also read and write them. Their language knowledge is the vehicle for them to maintain ties with members of their families living in other countries and their friends of diverse background. Despite that many of them reported Icelandic was their strongest academic language, 40% of them are facing some or lots of difficulties with their studies. Their heritage language knowledge, however, is rarely used to facilitate their learning in school.
Collins, P. H. & Bilge, S. (2016). Intersectionality (Key Concepts). Malden, MA: Polity Press. Cummins, J. (2008). "BICS and CALP: "Empirical and theoretical status of the distinction." In Literacy: Encyclopedia of Language and Education, edited by Brian V. Street and Nancy H. Hornberger, vol. 2: 71-83. New York: Springer. Garðarsdóttir, Ó. & Hauksson, G. (2011). Ungir innflytjendur og aðrir einstaklingar með erlendan bakgrunn í íslenskum samfélagi og íslenskum skólum 1996-2011. [Young Immigrants and Persons with Immigrant Background in Icelandic Society and Icelandic Schools 1996-2011]. Netla - Online Journal on Pedagogy and Education. Special Edition - Menntakvika Conference 2011. http://netla.hi.is/menntakvika2011/020.pdf. Kvale, S. & Brinkmann, S. (2009). Interviews. Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications. Le Gall, J. & Gerghel, A. (2016). Living in transnational spaces: Azorean Portuguese descendants in Quebec." In F. G. Nibbs & C. B. Brettell (eds.), Identity and the Second Generation: How Children of Immigrants Find Their Space (pp. 123-148). Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press. McCall, L. (2005). The complexity of intersectionality. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 30 (3), 1771-1800.
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