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Linguistics Fridays: Román, Pastor, Ward
April 23, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Tensions between Bilingual Teacher Identities and Monoglossic Ideologies in Spanish-English Bilingual Programs
Curriculum & Instruction, UW-Madison
Spanish, Southern Methodist University
The identities of bilingual teachers working in language-contact areas are influenced by the hybrid language practices used in their communities. At their schools, however, they usually encounter policies that emphasize language separation (e.g., one language/one day) and the teaching of standard language varieties, e.g., standard Spanish. Yet, how bilingual teachers grapple with the tensions between these monoglossic and standard language ideologies and their own bilingual teacher identities remains understudied. To address these gaps in the literature and using semi-structured interviews and classroom observations, in this study we report the tensions that emerged as 17 bilingual teachers discussed their attitudes toward their students’ local Spanish varieties, their own linguistic practices, and their identities and trajectories as bilingual teachers. Our participant teachers included a mixture of US and non-US born educators of Latinx origin who worked at two bilingual (Spanish-English) elementary schools in Northeastern Texas. All teachers were either L1-L1 or L1-L2 Spanish-English bilinguals and these schools served predominantly Latinx children. Our findings show that teachers mostly had negative attitudes toward language-contact features (e.g., intra-sentential codeswitching, borrowings) characteristic of their students’ Spanish. Teachers indicated that these linguistic features were not Spanish because they deviated from ‘standard’ Spanish as defined by normative institutions and indexicalized low levels of education in these students’ families. Yet, our analyses pointed to various underlying tensions behind these attitudes. Teachers, in fact, often employed similar hybrid linguistic practices themselves and indicated that they corrected their students’ Spanish with their best interest at heart. Our US-born Latinx bilingual teachers, in particular, expressed that having experienced discrimination themselves for using non-standard Spanish, their goal was for their students to become fluent speakers of this language. Overall, our study contributes to research on language teacher identities by illuminating factors that contribute to the emotional and cognitive dissonance experienced by linguistically minoritized teachers and highlights the multiplicity of tensions that exist between their embodied and articulated language ideologies.