UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Bangla and the identity of the heritage language teacher Afreen, Asma; Norton, Bonny, 1956-


Research on language teacher identity in the field of heritage language (HL) teaching has received little attention, although identity is a central concern in HL education. Our research seeks to address this gap in the research on language teacher identity. Drawing on the Darvin and Norton’s (2015) conceptual framework of identity and investment, we investigate the extent to which Bangla HL teachers are invested in teaching Bangla, and how their investment provides insight into their identity as heritage language teachers. The study was conducted at the community-based Vancouver Bangla School, and the data, which focuses on our focal participant, Mili, were drawn from a year-long qualitative case study. Data sources include participant classroom observations, field notes, interview transcripts, a questionnaire, and educational resources used in the class, which were analyzed using thematic analysis. Findings indicate that Mili’s investment in teaching Bangla was deeply rooted in her ideological belief in the importance of HL maintenance for cultural continuity. However, she was also interested in the transcultural relationship between Bangla and English, and between Bangladeshi culture and Canadian culture. Her investment in teaching Bangla as a heritage language suggests that an HL teacher may serve as a cultural mentor, collaborator, innovator, and active community member. As a member of both the Canadian and Bangladeshi cultural community, she valued students’ Canadian cultural practices and helped students in negotiating their new transcultural identities as Bangladeshi-Canadians. Our study suggests that the identity of the HL teacher could be expressed as a transcultural identity that resists binaries and embraces hybridity.

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Attribution 4.0 International