Sociocultural Competence, Translanguaging, and Language Ideologies: Language and Cultural Socialization in Two Vietnamese Language Programs in Texas




Dao, Nguyen

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Urged by the overarching problem of the language shift phenomena (Wong-Fillmore, 1991, 2000) and the lack of research among groups of less commonly taught languages, this ethnographic case study documents how the stakeholders from two Vietnamese language programs engaged in language and cultural socialization practices with respect to curricular designs, pedagogical practices, and associated language ideologies. The two focal programs included a Vietnamese dual-language two-way immersion program and a Vietnamese-as-a-second-language program, both located in a central Texas city. More particularly, drawing upon the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of translanguaging (García, 2009; Williams, 1994) and language ideology (Silverstein, 1979), all unified under the lens of language socialization (Ochs & Schieffelin, 1984), the study addresses the following research questions:

(1) In what ways do the stakeholders socialize emergent bilingual learners (both Vietnamese-descent and non-Vietnamese students) into biculturalism? (2) In what ways do the stakeholders engage emergent bilingual learners in bilingual and biliteracy practices in Vietnamese and English? (3) In what ways do the stakeholders’ ideologies of language inform the implementation of the focused programs and classroom practices?

Data were drawn from observational field notes, classroom recordings, retrospective interviews with stakeholders and alumni, and a collection of artifacts. Findings reveal that the stakeholders at the two sites employed a variety of socialization strategies to mitigate the effects of language loss while promoting biliteracy and biculturalism. More specifically, they socialized students into Vietnamese culturally-specific ways of being, thinking, and behaving through a robust integration of the sociocultural competence pillar (Howard et al., 2018) at four levels: community, school, classroom, and transnational. Further findings show that teacher participants strategically employed translanguaging as a socialization strategy to promote the students’ habitual consciousness of Vietnamese as the target language and culture in class. Furthermore, an awareness of linguistic shift and inferiority informed the stakeholders’ espousal of a counterhegemonic (Martínez et al., 2015) and anti-shift ideology in implementing the program- and classroom-level policies of language regimentation in which Vietnamese was prioritized over English. Along with that are a strong belief in culture and its substantial role in “anchoring” the language and sustaining the programs. Finally, the stakeholders’ language ideologies rest not only with individuals, but also with parents, local communities, schools, school districts, and the state. This study provides (1) new insights into educational programs that foreground less commonly taught languages, (2) implications for research, policies, and practices in response to the aforementioned findings, and (3) ways forward for future language socialization studies when placed at the crossroad with other fields of inquiry.


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bilingual education, cultural socialization, language ideology, language socialization, sociocultural competence, Vietnamese, Vietnamese language, Texas



Bicultural-Bilingual Studies