Sociolinguistics, Identity
Development, and Language
Use at Concordia Language
Meredith Hanson
© 2007 Meredith Hanson
• L1=“language 1”: one’s native language
• L2=“language 2”: any second language
• Target language: the language being taught;
here, the language of a particular CLV village
(Japanese at 森の池 Mori no ike, etc.)
• Community of practice
• Code
• Code-switching
• Register
Three major trends
in language teaching research
• Code-based approach (to mid-20th century)
• Psycholinguistic trend (mid 20th cent.-1980s)
• Sociolinguistic/Sociocultural trend (since 1980s)
• Languages are learned in social context, not
objectively as codes, not just in the individual’s brain
• Classrooms are multilingual communities of
practice and can be studied using
sociolinguistic methods, as “real”
speech communities
Concordia Language Villages
• Residential immersion camps
teaching 14 languages in
Minnesota, Georgia, and abroad
• 7-18 year old “villagers” attend
for 1, 2, or 4 weeks, and may
use any language at any time
amongst themselves
• Counselors are expected to use
the target language, except
when emotional/physical safety
is a concern
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Research Question
Can sociolinguistics-based
language learning research
explain why villagers at CLV
code-switch and use the
target language as they do?
First: Some Myths
• Code-switching is a sign of
deficient language skills, and
“real bilinguals” don’t do it.
• Students only mix L1 and L2
when they don’t know the words
in L2, or are lazy. (Legenhausen
• Multiple identities are a sign of
psychological problems. (Armour
• Removing L1 from classrooms
will increase students’ learning.
(Macaro 2001)
Forces affecting
villagers’ language use
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• Sociolinguistic
• Identity development
and expression
• Developmental &
• Educational
Our language is our identity.
• Language gives us our
sense of self
• Language gives us
access to social
networks that provide
opportunities to speak
(Peirce 1995)
• Language carries
social markers
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Psycholinguistic and
Social Concerns
• The “Affective Filter”
• From psycholinguistics: L2 learning is hindered
by negative emotions and fear
• Peer pressure
• Both pre-college and college students modify their L2
in response to peers (Hedgcock & Lefkowitz 2000)
• Power and Solidarity
• Most learners will opt for solidarity with
their peers, meaning they will usually
choose L1 over L2.
Developmental issues
• Most villagers are in early adolescence
(roughly 10-15 yrs. old)
• Erikson’s “Individual Integration” stage
years old)
• Searching for identity, seeking to condense identities
• How can we add an L2 identity when villagers at this
age are trying to find their native identity?
• Peer vs. adult role models
• Younger villagers tend to look to
counselors as role models, while
adolescents look to peers
Educational Issues
• A summer camp, not a school
• Residential immersion
• Non-assessment-oriented
• Counselors’ authority vs. teachers’
authority at school
• A community of practice
• Language used for real
• Unique village norms develop (Le
français du Lac du Bois, 森弁
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“Pedagogical Safe Houses”
in Language Learning
• Spaces where people between cultures can
construct their own community, out of view of
authority figures (teachers, parents)
• In safe houses, learners create and solidify their
own norms of language use and code choice,
and can act out blended L1/L2 identities
(Canagarajah 2004)
• For many villagers, CLV acts as
a safe house
Due to these four forces…
• Code-switching
becomes the learner’s
register (Legenhausen 1991):
adding L2 but not
replacing L1
• Villagers code-switch as
an outward sign of
claiming membership in
both the L1 and L2
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In practice in French
(at Lac du Bois)
• (I’m) just blaguin’ (you) [just joking/kidding you]
• Fraise ! [lit. strawberry]: as an expletive
• Tu roches(rocks) mon monde [You rock my world]
• Pas de chemin ! [lit. no way]
• Ton homard ! [your lobster]: to replace “Your mom!”
• N’importe quoi ! [Whatever]: with “N” gesture
• Je ne care pas [I don’t care]
• Être sur le ballon [lit. to be on the ball]
• “did Fosston [a Lac du Bois site] kick
le seau [the bucket]?”
In practice in Japanese
(at 森の池 Mori no ike)
• 何でクラプ?
• ピ乳 / ブルー乳
• 何 the hell これ?
• daijobs, daibouju
• 何 the fuck
• 大丈ぶ (as a verb)
• 何で福?!
• 上は何ですか。
• 何は上ですか。
• 何上?
Final Thoughts
• Learners are language users too, not “native
speaker wannabes”
• We all speak codes that reflect our affiliations
and values, particularly in L2!
• Questions of identity and role(s) played affect
language learning and use
• Code-switching is one way to claim
membership in two language
Merci beaucoup
To the CLV staff, former villagers, and Earlham students
who provided examples, advice, and encouragement:
Alpha, Benoît, Chris Webb, Claire (Sarah Howell), Eerika
(Erica Richter), Joëlle, かおり先生 (Lydia Quackenbush),
虎次郎先生 (Skip Walker), Lune, Lux, Mandi Rice, みえこ
(Sarah Elkinton), りさこ (Larisa Kile), “Der Deutsche
Ninja” (Stephen Emmons), Sylvie, Thérèse,
うきうき先生, et Violaine
Y a mis readers también:
Barbara Jurasek, Patty Lamson,
and Skip Walker
In this presentation:
• Armour, William. “‘Nihonjin no yoo to omoimashita’ (I think I’m like a Japanese):
Additional Language Learning and the Development of Multiple Selves” (2003).
• Canagarajah, Suresh. “Subversive identities, pedagogical safe houses, and critical
learning” (2004).
• “Conceptualizing Self and Environment: Erikson’s Model.” Human Development course
handout, Nelson Bingham, Earlham College.
• Hedgcock, John, and Lefkowitz, Natalie. “Overt and Covert Prestige in the French
Language Classroom: When is it Good to Sound Bad?” (2000)
• Legenhausen, Lienhard. “Code-Switching in Learners' Discourse.” (1991)
• Macaro, Ernest. “Analysing Student Teachers’ Codeswitching in Foreign Language
Classrooms: Theories and Decision Making.” (2001)
• Peirce, Bonny Norton. “Social Identity, Investment, and Language Learning.” (1995)
Language examples drawn from my employment experience and postings on the
following websites:
• Concordia Language Villages LiveJournal community
• Mori no ike LiveJournal community
• Concordia Language Villages Facebook group

Sociolinguistics, Identity Development, and Code