Language Socialization Among Latinos

Theory, Method, and Approaches

Authored by: Patricia Baquedano-López , Jorge Solís , Gabino Arredondo

Handbook of Latinos and Education

Print publication date:  December  2009
Online publication date:  December  2009

Print ISBN: 9780805858396
eBook ISBN: 9780203866078
Adobe ISBN: 9781135236694


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The education of Latinos continues to be a central topic of inquiry and concern in educational research. When young Latino students enter schools, they learn more than just subject matter, they must also learn to negotiate cultural expectations, languages, dialects, registers, and the often conflicting ideologies of what counts as knowledge and how to learn it. The increase in the number of Latinos in the overall U.S. population and their growing presence in public schools are making it imperative that researchers, administrators, and government agencies coalesce around an educational agenda that would maximize the educational attainment of Latino students. Earlier research on Latinos in schools aimed to solve the “Mexican problem” and attempted to provide explanations for their limited educational achievement. Latino cultural and linguistic practices and the lack of English language proficiency (often meaning the Standard English variant) were attributed to a lack of assimilation into the American mainstream (García, 2001; G. G. González, 1997; Trueba, 2002). Building on a legacy of work that has challenged a deficit approach to understanding Latino experience in schools (Durán, 1981; Valencia, 1997, 2002; Zentella, 1997), linguists, sociolinguists, and language development professionals are pushing educational and research agendas that invite us to reconsider the affordances of the language practices of many bilingual, bi-dialectical, and Spanish-speaking Latino students as resources for learning (K. D. Gutiérrez, Baquedano-López, & Alvarez, 2001; Moll, 1990; Valdés, 1996; Wong-Fillmore, 1992; Zentella, 1997). Among these efforts, researchers working within the language socialization paradigm have contributed a unique perspective on the role that language plays in the learning process, in particular, in the development of multiple competencies (linguistic and cultural) across a myriad of social institutions, but most particularly, in schools. Building on human developmentalist notions of learning, in particular social and cognitive competences that arise in interaction, language socialization research offers a complementary view to psychological approaches to learning. Thus language socialization research offers a linguistic anthropological perspective to address the complex questions of learning to participate in multiple communities and institutions. This chapter provides a review of this work with particular attention to Latino populations in the United States. In the next sections we review the goals and premises of language socialization research. We then discuss the influence of Latino experiences on language socialization research and related studies on language use and learning. We also review language socialization studies across different educational contexts. We conclude our chapter with a discussion on how language socialization research on Latinos can provide a window into understanding the role of language across contexts of learning.

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