The Importance of Linguistic Strategies in Shaping the Social Identities of Bilingual Youth
Denton, Lisa M.
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My conclusions posit that the use of Spanish or "Tex-Mex" Spanish among Hispanic youth serves as a reinforcer of identity among troubled and defeated youth, and as a type of indicator for teachers and others to recognize these youth. Others may argue that Spanish language use carries so much weight and merits such focused attention. To the contrary, the trends that emerged within my study drew my attention to this topic, unexpectedly, demonstrating apparent importance. Some may suggest that the use of minority languages reveals no more than incompetency and incomplete knowledge of the English language in students. Again, my observations alluded to more than this simplistic interpretation, when I witnessed the same student communicating effectively in both languages when necessary, but preferring the Spanish in the migrant/bilingual classroom setting. Another possible explanation of frequent language shifts is that code-switching may simply be a playful"game" entertained by some students. In some cases, this may be true, but other instances show that code-switches occur with such ease and casualness that it constitutes a distinct communicative convention. Even when true, however, code-switching always reflects some level of shared identity, and serves as a reinforcer of that identity, as does any form of esoteric language. Use of Spanish or Spanglish includes bilingual students and faculty and excludes non-Spanish speakers, defining the social boundaries of a group.