Schlagwort-Archive: community

What can we learn from immigrant students’ use of digital media?

It goes without saying that digital media now feature in almost all aspects of our daily lives. Not limited by national borders, they can open up new opportunities to develop language, literacy and social skills in globally relevant ways. In this regard, immigrant students have resources that are crucial to learning in the 21st century. Eva Lam argues that their digital practices must therefore be understood and leveraged in formal education settings.

Lam confirms that immigrant students in the US mostly use digital media for communication and for retrieving information. They communicate with peers and family in the US as well as in their countries of origin. They also access news from the US, their native countries and other parts of the world. Not only do students use several languages in these online activities, but they also broaden their perspectives on current events by having access to various resources.

Lam refers to a project conducted in a US high school with immigrant students and their peers on multimedia storytelling. Students gathered documents on immigration policy from different sources, interviewed members of their own communities regarding immigration experiences, and created a video documentary to show to others. Participating students could draw on their language skills, digital networks and access to different resources in the process of learning. Moreover, their linguistic and media literacy skills were acknowledged and valued as part of the exercise. By immigrant students having access to numerous linguistic, social and cultural contexts, other students gain insights into different societies and media reporting. Students in the classroom can discuss problems and issues from all over the world from different points of view including the local, national and transnational. Immigrant students in particular can be shown that their multilingual and media literacy skills are appreciated and can be encouraged to use and deepen them.

Lilian Kreimann

Lam, W. S. E. (2012). What immigrant students can teach us about new media literacy. Phi Delta Kappan 94:4 (December 2012/January 2013), 62-65.

Testing the boundaries between creole languages and colonial languages: The case of Palenquero and Spanish in Colombia

Creole languages develop when speakers of indigenous languages are compelled to adopt more powerful colonial languages. They are hybrids that combine aspects of both indigenous and colonial languages. In the Americas, for example, creoles emerged as colonial languages such as English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Dutch were forced on native populations whose use of the colonial languages was heavily influenced by their own indigenous languages.

Palenquero is a creole language which is based on Spanish, Portuguese-creole and African languages (particularly Kikongo) and spoken in Colombia. Today, Palenquero exists alongside Spanish, and most Palenquero speakers are bilingual, using both languages in a variety of situations. Palenquero speakers also mix both languages within the same situation, although code-mixing is frowned upon within the community. Lipski and his research team set out to determine whether Palenquero speakers set boundaries between their languages or whether this code-mixing can be attributed to the process of ‘decreolization’, whereby the creole language loses the characteristics of the indigenous language and becomes more like the colonial language upon which it is based (in this case: Spanish).

In order to test the boundaries between these two languages, older native speakers, Palenquero language teachers and learners were presented with various statements and asked to classify them as Spanish-only, Palenquero-only or mixed. All Palenquero speakers were consistently able to identify Palenquero-only and Spanish-only statements. However, across groups, many of the mixed Palenquero-Spanish statements went undetected. Older native speakers in particular tended to classify these as ‘Palenquero-only’, whereas teachers and learners were able to identify mixed statements more accurately. This result may reflect teachers’ and learners’ knowledge of Palenquero grammar, which older native speakers may not possess on a conscious level. In addition, some participants may not have wanted to admit that members of their community mix the two languages.

Participants were later required to listen to long statements in Palenquero, Spanish or both languages and to then repeat them. Because it is difficult to remember the exact wording of long statements, they had to fill in portions of these statements with their own words, which often resulted in spontaneous corrections of Spanish words in Palenquero statements. Even if participants were unaware of the code-mixing that had occurred, they automatically removed any Spanish words that had been present. This finding seems to indicate that speakers of Palenquero do set bounadries between their languages, which in turn suggests that Palenquero is not undergoing decreolization. At the same time, although code-mixing is discouraged within the community, it may often go unnoticed in daily communication.

Jessica Terese Mueller

Lipski, J.M. (2016). Palenquero and Spanish: A first psycholinguistic exploration. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, 31:1, 42 – 81.