NATIONALISM AND LANGUAGE LEARNING AT THE US/MEXICO BORDER: AN ETHNOGRAPHICALLY-SENSITIVE CRITICAL DISCOURSE ANALYSIS OF THE REPRODUCTION OF NATION, POWER, AND PRIVILEGE IN AN ENGLISH LANGUAGE CLASSROOM
AuthorMeadows, Bryan Hall
critical discourse analysis
english language teaching (ELT)
Committee ChairWaugh, Linda
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study investigates how the relationship between nationalism and language learning is manifested in discourse at an English language classroom facilitated in Nogales Sonora along the Mexico/US border. Employing ethnographically-sensitive critical discourse analysis, this study contributes to the fields of English Language Teaching (ELT), Border Studies, and Nationalism Studies by introducing three analytical terms that provide a means to document the social construction of nation-states (termed herein as imagined national communities of practice). The three terms are (1) nationalist practices, which refers to social practice that presupposes nationalist principles, (2) nationalist border practices, which refers to discerning self/other along nationalist lines, and (3) nationalist standard practices, which refers to the articulation of nationalist standards of language and subjectivity. The students attending the class under analysis comprise a unique population in that they are adults who occupy positions of economic and social privilege in the Nogales Sonora community because of their management-level employment at maquila factories. Reflecting their status, the students are invested in nationalist practices of border and standard in order to align themselves with nation-state institutions and to distance themselves from cultural and linguistic liminality (e.g., Mexican-American, paisano, code-switching, and Spanglish) characteristic of border regions. The classroom under observation upheld nationalist borders and standards, with important consequences. First, nationalist notions of border led classroom participants to disavow the bilingual language use that was clearly necessary for successful classroom operations, despite an English immersion classroom policy. Second, nationalist practices established the local classroom space as indexically linked to an imagined American community of practice, understood by students to be authentically monolingual, monocultural, and distinct from Mexico. Association with--but not full incorporation into--this particular understanding of the American nation-state is advantageous to students for maintaining their elevated social and economic positioning in the local Nogales Sonora community. Thus, this classroom serves as a site of nationalist border reproduction and the reinforcement of hierarchies of privilege. The study encourages teacher reflection on what nationalism can mean to formal language learning contexts and suggests directions for re-aligning classroom practice to approaches that embrace multilingual realities of language learning contexts.
Degree ProgramSecond Language Acquisition & Teaching