Exploring Language Attitudes and Ideologies in Multilingual Spain: Secondary Students’ Perspectives on Minority Languages

2:45 - 3:15pm EDT
Presented at: ISB10

A recent influx of immigration into Spain has led to increased levels of linguistic and ethnic diversity in settings previously presumed to be culturally and linguistically homogeneous in terms of student representation in the classroom. Researchers investigating the various policies established and practices implemented in response to the growth of language minority students have found these students to be framed as linguistically deficient and often marginalized in classroom practices, which impedes students’ ability to integrate, and by extension, contributes to their academic failure (e.g., Relaño Pastor, 2009; Martín Rojo, 2010). In the context of Madrid, Martín Rojo (2010) identified the underpinning language ideologies of these policies and practices as the ideology of standardisation (the normative tradition of imposing standard Castilian Spanish as the norm for school language) the ideology of monolingualism (the idea that the use of other languages will reduce the exposure to Castilian Spanish and impede the integration of immigrant students), and the ideology of ethnicisation (the process of creating social representations of out-groups based on token characteristics which depict them as belonging to one nation and sharing one language and one culture).

Research that has highlighted these shortcomings in Spain’s current educational system has focused mainly on the examination of policy and classroom interaction and relied on the input of teachers, administrators, and students and families from language minority backgrounds, but has largely ignored native Spanish, or language majority, students. This paper presents findings from research that explored the extent to which language majority students in a monolingual region, Andalusia, are guided by the same monolingual and monocultural ideologies as Spanish teachers and administrators in response to minority languages and their speakers. Through a language attitudes survey informed by Baker (1992) and Andersson (2011), this paper provides the first look at majority language students’ opinions about some of the more common minority languages and their speakers in Spain today as a result of immigration—Romanian, Latin American Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese—as well as two curricular foreign languages—English and French. The study found neutral-to-favorable attitudes towards all six languages in the study and the most favorable attitudes towards English and English speakers and French and French speakers.