Heritage language learning and identity construction of 1.5 and second generation Korean Canadians

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Song, Hyekyung
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Immigrants’ extensive contributions to Canada include cultural and linguistic diversity, underscoring the need to understand the complexities and identity construction of linguistic minorities. Drawing on sociocultural and poststructural perspectives on language, identity, and power (Duff, 2007, 2019; Foucault, 1978; Norton, 2013), this multiple case study of six university-aged 1.5 and second generation Korean Canadians explores the dynamic interplay of heritage language learning experiences, situated contexts, and identity construction. Drawing on participants’ lived experiences and perspectives, the data include in-depth interviews with the primary participants, a focus group with community leaders, and the researcher’s reflection journals. Offering insight into the participants’ first institutional heritage language learning experiences at a university, the findings reveal how deeply these linguistic minorities’ heritage language learning trajectories and identity construction were situated within complex webs of familial, sociocultural, political and transnational factors, and individuals’ different ways of reacting to the social forces. Endeavors to immerse themselves into a range of linguistic and cultural contexts gave these young adults valuable life lessons and unique identities as Korean Canadians, within which they shifted their bilingual/cultural identities. Their heritage language played a critical role in the participants’ multiple identities, broadening their social spaces. University-aged Korean Canadians’ experiences underscore the importance of sociocultural contexts of linguistic minorities’ identity and heritage language learning, the close relationship between language and identity, and the critical role of institutional inclusion of heritage languages, alongside the role of the home, educational institutions, communities, and society.
Heritage language learning, Linguistic minority, Identity construction, Higher education, Immigrant students