Language ideologies of Spanish-dominant families as they seek spoken language for their children with hearing impairment: Ethnography of the journey across borders and cultures




Ibarra, Sandra Ramos

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The purpose of this study is to explore and uncover the ideologies of families with Spanish dominance and the educational institution from which they received their help as they seek spoken language for their child with hearing impairment. Triangulating theories from sociolinguistics (Gee, 1990), socioculturalism (Vygotsky, 1986), bilingual education (Cummins, 2000) and education for children with hearing impairment seeking spoken language (Cole, 2007; Cole & Flexer, 2006) helped me to create my theoretical framework. Research data was generated by interviews with mothers, teachers, and other professionals supplemented by observations, anecdotal records of conversations, formal meetings as well as artifacts such as school enrollment forms, formalized language testing, informal assessments and parent questionnaires. The three research questions guiding this study are: 1) What are the beliefs that families and the institution hold about language and language use? 2) How do these beliefs about language and language use translate into behaviors in the real world, especially at this educational site that promotes spoken language for children with hearing impairment?; and 3) Do the ideologies of the families and the educational institution intersect/converge or collide/diverge and how does that help or hinder the journey towards spoken language for children with hearing impairment from Spanish-dominant families?

This 10-month qualitative study using ethnographic methods was conducted on site at a listening and spoken language school in South Central United States. The three case study mothers, all of Mexican origin, each participated in two individualized, formal interviews about their language ideologies, their lived experiences and their future hopes for their children. Three teachers and two professional participants (Speech and Language Pathologist and the Social Worker) also engaged in two to three interviews about their language ideologies, their lived experiences and the progress of the students in question. In addition, observations were conducted during class time, departmental meetings, and Parent-Teacher Meetings. Field notes were taken and analyzed to provide a backdrop from which to uncover the ideologies of the institution as a whole.


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culture, hearing impairment, language ideologies, Spanish, spoken language



Bicultural-Bilingual Studies