7. Language and literacy socialization as resistance in Western Canada

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By drawing on data from participant observation, interviews and E-mail communication, this chapter, part of a larger study (Guardado 2008), examines the language and literacy socialization attitudes and experiences of a Spanish speaking family of Mayan-descent from Guatemala living in a large urban centre in Western Canada. It examines the family’s constructions of Spanish maintenance and provides an analysis of the challenges they faced in and outside the home in relation to the language and literacy socialization of their children. The chapter describes a particular family literacy event designed to socialize the children into Spanish language, literacy, and academic content, which at times was also used to raise questions about the hegemony of Western civilization. The analysis reveals the parents conceptualized Spanish maintenance as a necessary factor in socializing their children into positive ideologies and affiliations about their languages and cultures. At the same time, the analysis illustrated how the parents fought an ongoing battle against the societal assimilative forces in their efforts to raise multilingual children. These findings also highlight how the parents’ understanding of the complexities associated with L1 maintenance is one of the keys to success in this regard, along with the cultural, social and economic capital (Bourdieu 1986) necessary to provide children with an enriching experience. The chapter concludes with policy, pedagogical and research implications.


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