Code-switching at a bilingual school in Costa Rica
Mellom, Paula Jean
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In language contact situations such as that precipitated by human migration and globalization, heteroglossia and language shift occur where traces of what had been two or more separate linguistic codes begin to mix. And because language and identity are inextricably intertwined, this language mixing has serious implications for the construction of identities of the peoples caught in the linguistic borderlands. The history of US involvement in Central America and the current economic dependence of Costa Rica on the United States have created a certain ambivalence among Costa Ricans regarding English because while those who speak English wield enormous cultural and economic capital in a rapidly changing global economy, there exists a resistance to becoming American. In order to understand how this tension impacts the construction of identity one must take a critical eye to the issues of linguistic dominance and resistance in ESOL classrooms. This dissertation examines examples of intertextuality and how the L1-Spanish students at an elite bilingual school in rural Costa Rica utilize code-switching to entextualize the English texts present in advertising and popular music into their discourse. Further analysis focuses on the code-switching strategies these students use to construct their own and others’ identities in interaction. In the analysis, I have identified three participant roles mediator, model student and compañero, and I examine how the students go about co-constructing those roles in interaction. I look closely at participant constellations (who's talking to whom and their assigned and perceived role in the class), topic of interaction (both discursive and metadiscursive) and the sequential or functional triggers of code-switches. The final analysis chapter looks at negotiated code-switching strategies bilingual students utilize to scaffold for one another in interaction. The study offers a new way of viewing competence of bilingual speakers that does not devalue the multiple linguistic resources that the children bring with them to the classroom.