Puerto Rico’s Cultural and Linguistic Realities: Search for National, Social, and Individual Identities

  • Nilsa J. ThorsosEmail author


In this chapter, the author examines the ambivalence of language policy in Puerto Rico from 1898 to the present from times When United States of America (U.S.) won the Spanish–American War in 1898, to the present. The vernacular language prior to U.S. occupation was Spanish but after Spain transferred colonial powers to the U.S., English was imposed as a new official language. The uncertainty of language use of government, education, and business permeated into the daily lives of Puerto Ricans, as a manifestation of colonialism, which became an intrusion to their identities. Currently, Puerto Ricans, as American citizens, travel freely back and forth between the island and mainland U.S., and this freedom of movement has created a Puerto Rican diaspora that impacts the island’s language planning and policies, and more specifically educational policies and practices. This movement affects youth because they have to negotiate the linguistic demands and academic expectations of both USA and Puerto Rico. In addition, within the context of the 21st century, Puerto Rico’s current political status, language policies, and the influence of globalization continue to infringe on their definition of national, social, familiar, and individual identities. The author provides insights into possibilities for adequate bilingual education opportunities for Puerto Ricans in U.S. and Puerto Rico.


Puerto Rico Identity Colonialism Bilingual education 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Special Education, Sanford College of EducationNational UniversityLos AngelesUSA

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