How immigrant students’ self-views at school relate to different patterns of first and second language use

Abstract

This research investigates how students from immigrant families whose first language differs from the language of instruction at school view themselves while at school, depending on the way in which they use their first and second language. While some immigrant students are inclined to predominantly use their first language in the home environment but their second language while at school (separate language use pattern, S-LUP), others use their first and second language across social settings (fused language use pattern, F-LUP). We expected self-views of immigrant students with S-LUP to more strongly depend on the immediate (language) context than self-views of F-LUP students. We content-analysed open self-descriptions which 569 adolescents with different first languages had provided in their second language, the language of instruction at school, while at school. As expected, compared to F-LUP students, S-LUP students’ self-views contained more school-related descriptions, i.e., more self-descriptions bound to the immediate language context, but fewer homerelated descriptions, i.e., fewer self-aspects bound to a first language context. Implications for language policies and educational practices in culturally heterogeneous schools are discussed.

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Correspondence to Ute Gabriel.

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This research has been supported by a grant allocated to the last author by the Volkswagen Stiftung (AZ: II/80 639) and by NTNU-funding for research leave awarded to the first author. Thanks go to Janine Neuhaus and Melanie Rau for collecting the data used in this research.

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Gabriel, U., Lilla, N., Zander, L. et al. How immigrant students’ self-views at school relate to different patterns of first and second language use. Soc Psychol Educ 17, 617–636 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-014-9268-4

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Keywords

  • First and second language
  • Immigrant students
  • School-related self-views