Language, identity and peer interactions at a linguistically diverse school

BARLEY, Ruth (2016). Language, identity and peer interactions at a linguistically diverse school. In: THEOBALD, Maryanne, (ed.) Friendship and Peer Culture in Multilingual Settings. Sociological Studies of Children and Youth (21). Emerald, 89-111.

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Purpose - Drawing on research findings from an ethnography conducted with young children, exploring notions of difference, identity and peer interactions, this study uncovers how four- and five-year-olds initiated and maintained peer interactions within a linguistically diverse Early Years setting in the North of England. Methodology/approach - This study adopted an applied ethnographic approach to gain the emic perspectives of children in the reception class at Sunnyside over a full academic year. Over the course of this school year I spent a day a week with the class undertaking non-participant and participant observations alongside unstructured informal conversations and focused on visual research activities. Findings - Language and identity were closely intertwined in children's patterns of interaction at Sunnyside. For some children language had a functional value while for others it was a symbolic marker of identity. Similarly, for some children their minority language held valuable linguistic capital while for others their first or home language was viewed as being something to shun. For all the children language was only one factor that played a role in initiating and maintaining their peer interactions at school. These implications will be discussed in this chapter. Originality/value - Situated in a particular local context, this study provides an in-depth insight into the experiences of a linguistically diverse group of children from North and Sub-Saharan African countries who have come together in a single school setting where Somali and Arabic are the two key languages that are spoken by children in the class. This chapter discusses how these children viewed languages within the classroom context and how other identity markers associated with ethnicity, religion and nationality intersected with language within the context of 'being friends' at Sunnyside.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Series ISSN - 1537-4661
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Institute of Education
Identification Number:
Page Range: 89-111
Depositing User: Margaret Boot
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2017 14:39
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 02:30

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