13. The role of community in preserving Spanish in New Zealand

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Over the last two decades, immigration to New Zealand has resulted in increasing cultural and linguistic diversity. Despite New Zealand’s diverse ethnolinguistic makeup, the country remains a predominantly English-speaking society, where 74% of the population speak English only (Statistics New Zealand 2007b). Spanish is one of the lesser spoken minority languages in New Zealand, and among its 4.2 million people fewer than 6000 were born in Latin America (Statistics New Zealand 2007a). The small size of the local hispanophone speech community and the lack of an overall language policy or consistent support for ethnic languages present difficult conditions for maintaining Spanish intergenerationally. This chapter introduces a case study of three Latin American families’ efforts to respond to this challenge and to carve out a space for Spanish in an English-dominant context. The study suggests a key role for the Latin American community in providing opportunities for shared linguistic practices and affording a sense of continuity, belonging and identity.


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