Negotiating Multiple Identities and Linguistic Capital within Canada’s Bilingual Framework: A Narrative Analysis of the Past Experiences of Canadian Multilingual Youth

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Katherine MACCORMAC, Western University, Canada
Since the adoption of official bilingualism in Canada over forty years ago, Canadian language policies and French as a second language (FSL) education programs have continued to promote a homogenous bilingual and bicultural vision of the nation despite the evolution of Canadian society from increased waves of immigration. From a social justice standpoint, Canadian language and education researchers have discovered that the continued reproduction of this vision not only limits the possibilities for multilingual FSL students to negotiate multiple forms of belonging, but it also enacts symbolic violence on them by undervaluing their linguistic capital (Byrd Clark, 2007, 2008b, 2010; Mady, 2012). Although highlighting the tensions involved in the Canadian language situation, previous studies have mainly focused on the experiences of adult newly arrived and second generation Canadian born multilingual FSL students. Remaining unexplored, however, is the long term effects of these tensions on the experiences of multilingual FSL students born abroad and raised in Canada whose immigration status often involves negotiating a space for their multiple identities and linguistic capital both across and in between their multiple social worlds. While employing a critical postmodern narrative approach, this paper adds to the conversation by presenting preliminary findings drawn from narratives of the lived experiences of a group of Canadian multilingual former FSL students. Although focused on the Canadian context, this paper has broader international implications because it highlights the importance of addressing issues of social inequality within national language policies and education programs to aid multilingual youth in maintaining their multiple identities and linguistic capital while integrating into the linguistic landscape of host societies.