The cultural productions of the ESL student at tradewinds high: Contingency, multidirectionality, and identity in L2 socialization

  • Talmy S
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Although the originators of the language socialization (LS) paradigm were careful to cast socialization as a contingent, contested, ‘bidirectional’ process, the focus in much first language LS research on ‘successful’ socialization among children and caregivers may have obscured these themes. Despite this, I suggest the call for a more ‘dynamic model’ of LS (Bayley and Schecter 2003), while compelling, is unnecessary: contingency and multidirectionality are inherent in LS given its orientation to socialization as an interactionally-mediated process. This paper foregrounds the ‘dynamism’ of LS by examining processes comprising ‘unsuccessful’ or ‘unexpected’ socialization. Specifically, it analyses interactions involving ‘oldtimer’ ‘Local ESL’ students and their first-year teachers at a multilingual public high school in Hawai’i. Contingency and multidirectionality are explicated through analysis of two competing ‘cultural productions of the ESL student.’ The first, manifest in ESL program structures and instruction, was school-sanctioned or ‘official.’ Socialization of Local ESL students into this schooled identity was anything but predictable, however, as they consistently subverted the actions, stances, and activities that constituted it. In doing so, these students produced another, oppositional ESL student identity, which came to affect ‘official’ classroom processes in significant ways.

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  • Steven Talmy

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