UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Language ideology and student identity in mainstream higher education courses : (re)production and resistance Burrell-Kim, Danielle


Despite educators’ efforts to create open-minded and welcoming environments for students of all kinds, hegemonic language ideologies are still widespread among students and instructors in institutions today (Briggs & Pailliotet, 1997; Cho, 2017; De Costa, 2016; Séror, 2008). Students continue to experience discrimination and gatekeeping on the basis of perceived language competencies through the enactment of language ideology throughout their educational careers. Furthermore, even students who adhere to dominant discourse practices are often perceived as deviating due to racial bias (Flores & Rosa, 2015). This multiple case study examined how five English language learners (ELLs) encountered hegemonic language ideologies in their mainstream courses at a North American college and how those encounters impacted their identities. Data from interviews, classroom documents, and reflective journals was analyzed utilizing discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1989; Gee, 2014b), drawing on a critical post-structuralist theoretical framework (Creswell & Poth, 2018) to conceptualize significant concepts such as discourse, power in language, ideology, and identity. The participants in this study encountered hegemonic language ideologies predominantly through assessment practices and explicit instances of Othering. As a result, they often suffered inequitable grading practices which led to lower grades, and many expressed a lack of confidence in their language competencies. While many students took up these oppressive ideologies and reproduced them through how they positioned themselves and others in interactions in and outside of class, some participants resisted hegemonic language ideologies. The implications of these findings highlight the need for educators and educational institutions alike to recognize hegemonic language ideologies as a significant contributing factor to institutionalized racism. Thus, this study reaffirms the need for language awareness or language diversity training for mainstream instructors and students to examine both their own ideologies and exactly what constitutes equitable pedagogical practices (Bucholtz, 2010; Gee, 2014a; Lippi-Green, 2012; Wolfram, 2009). In particular, the use of critical language awareness which informs students about language ideologies in comparison to linguistic facts may help empower them to resist the hegemonic language ideologies they encounter throughout their educational career (Fairclough, 1989; Siegel, 2006).

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