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Language and ethnic identity in a multi-ethnic high school in Wales

Benkorichi Graoui, Hayat 2019. Language and ethnic identity in a multi-ethnic high school in Wales. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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As increased numbers of students from diverse backgrounds populate British schools, concerns have been raised around minority languages within monolingual contexts (Wilson 2014; King and Fogle 2016). Drawing on a case study of a state English-medium, multi-ethnic, mixed and comprehensive high school in Wales, this thesis examined ethnic language and identity concerns among multi-ethnic students, through exploring their everyday school-life experiences. It investigated the consequences of the distinct interactional, ideological, and physical manifestations of ethnicity, demonstrating the ways in which the relevant identity attributes instruct students’ performances across a variety of social, educational, and most importantly psychological processes. More than 80 per cent of the students in the case study site were ethnic learners from 54 ethnic groups, with 64 different languages spoken amongst this cohort (Policy Statements 2016-17). The setting offered a scene of cultural diversity, where language represented an instructive tool for studying identity matters, and where language attitudes and practices indicated that cultural values distinguished individuals and different ethnic groups. The study generated data from an all school student survey (N=915), key stages three and four (KS3-4) student focus groups (N=8 sessions), interviews with teachers and staff members (N=19) and KS5 students (N=4), in addition to a site observation, which lasted for four months (two school days a week, for four months). Analysis of the data identified a significant native language use among Somali, Roma and Arab students even during lessons. The findings suggest strong associations between the students’ mother tongues’ conversational exercise and negative social and academic experiences within the school. Native languages transcended their communicative functions to signal the negotiation and contestation of identity. Debating the practicality of native discourses and the discourses of stigma, the thesis evidences an incongruence between the mandated pedagogies, cultural diversities, and educational resources, while highlighting the significance of native interactions in students’ ascription and loyalty to their spirituality, cultural affiliation, and perceptions of the self.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 February 2020
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2022 01:45

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