Volume 31, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0957-6851
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9838
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Despite the growing number of cross-cultural adolescents from immigrants and families formed through international/interracial marriages in South Korea, empirical studies investigating newcomer adolescents’ identity positioning in secondary education have been scarce. Drawing upon Ruíz’s (1984) framework for language policy and planning and Cummins’ (19862001) empowerment framework for minority education, this article investigates how diversity is conceptualised in South Korea through a case study of multicultural education. Specifically, the article examines how newcomer adolescents’ linguistic and cultural identities are perceived by teachers and peers in two high schools. The findings revealed that diversity is dominantly viewed as an impediment to academic success for newcomer youth and is only appreciated once students are fully assimilated into Korean society. The concept of diversity as a resource and right and the notion of multicultural and multilingual identities in the Korean educational context are absent, or hidden, at best. Although there are examples where newcomer learners see diversity as empowerment and resources for their identity construction and positionality, this orientation has not been acknowledged in educational practices. The study calls for conceptualizing diversity as empowerment and resources as ethical lenses to move away from ethnocentric and deficit orientations.


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