Language practices, language ideologies and identity construction in Turkish complementary schools in London

Vally Lytra, Taşkın Baraç

King's College London, UK

WS140: Multilingualism and identities across Contexts: Turkish-speaking Youth in Europe

This paper emerges from a larger study on multilingualism in complementary schools in four communities in the UK (ESRC, RES 000-23-1180). One of the four case studies focused on the language practices and identity construction of Turkish-speaking young people in two Turkish complementary schools in London

(Creese et al. 2007d). Complementary schools are voluntary schools- also referred to as “community”, “supplementary” or “heritage” schools- which serve specific ethno-linguistic groups, particularly through community language classes.

Drawing on a variety of sources (i.e. field-notes, tape and video-recordings, semi-structured interviews and still photography) we explore how Turkish-speaking young people strategically exploit the full range of their linguistic resources (e.g. Turkish, Cypriot-Turkish and other regional and diasporic varieties of Turkish, English, including non-standard English, Arabic and other instructed foreign languages) for meaning making and identity negotiation in Turkish complementary schools. We argue that Turkish-speaking young people use their languages and language varieties flexibly and spontaneously and that their language practices demonstrate fluidity rather than fixity in the ways they identify themselves. The young people’s language practices and identity negotiations are situated in the context of Turkish complementary schools’ competing language ideologies which, on the one hand, tend to privilege the compartmentalization of languages and languages varieties and, on the other hand, tacitly acknowledge that the young people have differential language proficiencies and preferences.

Session: Workshop (part 1)
Multilingualism and identities across Contexts: Turkish-speaking Youth in Europe
Friday, April 4, 2008, 10:30-12:00
room: 07