Return Migration and School: Sociolinguistic Experiences of Transnational Students in Mexico and the United States

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:30
Oral Presentation
Kathleen TACELOSKY, Lebanon Valley College, USA
Changing migration patterns between the United States and Mexico indicate that more Mexicans are returning to Mexico than are migrating to the United States (González-Barrera, 2015). Thus, many U.S.-educated children of Mexican origin find themselves in the Mexican public school system (Zúñiga and Hamann, 2013; Román González and Carrillo Cantú). This research examines the linguistic realities of these transnational students, who had been using English for school and Spanish for home, and are now required to use Spanish for academic purposes.

This paper draws on seven years (2010-2016) of semi-structured interviews (n=50), conducted in English, Spanish and Spanglish, with 29 students, all of whom have had one or more years of schooling in the United States and are now living in Mexico. Particular focus is on interviews with two students, current ages 16 and 14, who have been part of the study for six and seven years. On-going analysis of students’ discourse, following a Grounded Theory methodology (Glaser and Strauss, 1967), reveals confusion, frustration and a sense of strangeness regarding their experiences with English and Spanish in academic settings in both the U.S. and Mexico. By examining the categories transnational students use to talk about their linguistically-based experiences, we gain an understanding of their reality regarding socio-educational integration and adaptation. Implications for migrant education in other contexts are explored.


Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). Grounded theory: The discovery of grounded theory. Sociology The Journal Of The British Sociological Association, 12, 27-49.

Gonzalez-Barrera, A. (2015). More Mexicans leaving than coming to the US. Pew Research Center, 19.

Román González, B., & Carrillo Cantú, E. (2017). “Bienvenido a la escuela”: experiencias escolares de alumnos transnacionales en Morelos, México. Sinéctica, (48), 0-0.

Zúñiga, V., & Hamann, E. T. (2006). Going home? schooling in Mexico of transnational children. CONfines (México), (4), 41-57.