Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Modern cultural, literary and linguistic perspectives

Jani-Demetriou Bernadett: Categories and social meanings: An analysis of international students’ language practices in an international school


DOI 10.51313/alumni-2020-9


Bilingual educational programmes in recent years received criticism from translanguaging or superdiversity scholars. These programmes follow either the subtractive or the additive models of bilingual education (García 2009), in both of which the languages are considered as separate systems. This distinction is considered as “inadequate to describe linguistic diversity” (García 2009: 142) and masks the real diversity of difference by focusing only on languages. Thinking in terms of plurilingualism and multiculturalism “might contribute to a continuation of thinking in terms of us-versus-them, essentializing cultural or ethnic differences” (Geldof 2018: 45). The present study argues that a critical ethnographic sociolinguistic approach provides a more relevant analysis of children’s language practices. From this critical perspective, speaking is highlighted instead of languages and considered as action in which the linguistic resources carry social meaning (Blommaert–Rampton 2011). This paper introduces the findings of an ethnographic fieldwork set in an international summer school where linguistic and ethnic diversity is a commonplace, although a strict English-only language policy applies in order to achieve the school’s pedagogical goals. The aim of the research has been to find out how students from various cultural background are dealing with ethnical and linguistic diversity and to analyse how the processes of normalisation (Geldof 2018) among students and teachers create values and categories accepted as norms by the group.  By analysing the emerging social values and categories within the group, this paper focuses on how internal factors such as emotions, attitudes and identity contribute to the language choices of the students.


Keywords: critical sociolinguistics, identity, enregisterment, voice, linguistic diversity

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ISSN 1786-7967

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