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Whose English is it anyway? Culture, language and identity: Ethnographic portraits from Oaxaca, Mexico

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Author(s): Clemente, Ángeles | Higgins, Michael

Journal: Papeles de Trabajo sobre Cultura, Educación y Desarrollo Humano
ISSN 1699-437X

Volume: 1;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2005;
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Keywords: Culture | Language | Identity | Ethnography | Oaxaca

ABSTRACT
In this paper we will present a series of ethnographic portraits of students who are in the process of learning and teaching English at the Centro de Idiomas, which is part of the state university in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. These portraits will focus on how the students at the Centro navigate the cultural and social complexities of learning English as an additional language. Our argument will look at the way the process of the accumulation of cultural capital, modes of identity construction, and the dynamics of social agency affect the means for learning an additional language (Bourdieu, 1991; Pavlenko, 2002). The young working and middle class Oaxacan students at the Centro are involved in the pursuit of various forms of linguistics and cultural capital. Moreover, they use their various identity locations as a means of learning, using and teaching English. These identity locations involve issues concerning gender, sexuality, ethnicity and assumptions about standards of English. These students move between these assumptions and their own desires about language performance and they use their own agency to recompose English as something beyond such assumptions (Sayer, Clemente and Higgins 2004).
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