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Spanglish is spoken here: Making sense of Spanish-English code-switching and language ideologies in a sixth-grade English Language Arts classroom

Author(s): Ramon A. Martínez

Abstract:

This study of language and ideology among bilingual Latina/o sixth-graders at a middle school in East Los Angeles examined students' engagement in Spanish-English code-switching, a hybrid language practice that many of them referred to as " Spanglish ," as well as their beliefs, feelings, and awareness--or language ideologies --with respect to this language practice. Methodologically, this study relied on participant observation, video-recording, and audio-recording to document the verbal interactions that took place across multiple social and instructional contexts in these students' English Language Arts classroom. In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted as a means of engaging students in participant retrospection . During these interviews, students were presented with data on their use of Spanglish and then asked to reflect on this language use. Their language ideologies were further elicited through a series of questions specifically related to the instances of Spanglish that had been observed.

Analysis of the data revealed that students used Spanglish in creative, skillful, and intelligent ways, and that their use of Spanglish mediated both conversation and the broader social organization of the classroom, contributing to the construction of a social space in which bilingualism and hybridity were normative. Further analysis revealed parallels between the skills embedded in students' use of Spanglish and the skills that they were expected to master according to California's sixth-grade English Language Arts standards. Students' use of Spanglish displayed a mastery of specific academic literacy skills, including adeptness at (1) shifting voices for different audiences, and (2) communicating shades of meaning. It is argued that students' skillful use of Spanglish could be leveraged as a resource for helping them to develop academic literacy skills. Analysis also revealed variation with respect to students' language ideologies. Overall, students exhibited both practical and discursive forms of awareness, and they articulated and embodied both dominant and counter-hegemonic language ideologies. It is argued that this variation provides fertile ground for rich and transformative dialogue that could potentially help students develop critical language awareness. The dissertation concludes with specific implications for leveraging these skills and ideologies in order to help students further cultivate both academic and critical literacies.

APA Citation:

Martínez, R. A. (2009). Spanglish is spoken here: Making sense of Spanish-English code-switching and language ideologies in a sixth-grade English Language Arts classroom. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles.

Link: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1971760601&sid=2&Fmt=2&clientId=48051&RQT=309&VName=PQD

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