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Education at last! Taiwanese grandmothers "go to school"

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Title: Education at last! Taiwanese grandmothers "go to school"
Author(s): Lin, Shumin
Director of Research: Miller, Peggy J.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Miller, Peggy J.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Koven, Michele; Lo, Adrienne; Singleton, Jenny
Department / Program: Educational Psychology
Discipline: Educational Psychology
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): language socialization language ideology senior adult education identity sociolinguistic marginalization Taiwan
Abstract: Language socialization is a life-long process in which individuals are continuously socialized into new roles, statuses, and practices. This process becomes more complex in multilingual contexts. However, we know little of the language socialization of older adults and we know even less of minority-speaking elders' experiences of linguistic marginalization in contemporary communicative milieus. In this ethnographic and discourse-analytic study, I examine the language socialization of non-Mandarin-speaking elderly Taiwanese women in senior adult education programs in a rural township in Taiwan. Through examining autobiographical narratives, master narratives about elders, and classroom discourses, this study explores the historical construction of their sociolinguistic marginalization and their negotiation and resistance of such marginalization. The majority of the elderly women were denied education when they were young. Some received Japanese education during the Japanese colonization period. While the uneducated and illiterate elders have a strong aspiration for learning, they are dismissed as "unable to learn" by their teachers, peer students, and community leaders. By contrast, the Japanese literate exhibit a strong learning identity associated with colonial modernity. These two groups, however, have to contend with the social stereotype associated with their non-Mandarin speaking status. Under a Mandarin-only ideology that links Mandarin with modernity, discourses that have actively mobilized the category of “illiterate” to reference the older population are part and parcel of Taiwan’s modern identity. By demonstrating how these women are treated, in official discourses and in classroom interactions, as children for their lack of Mandarin abilities, I argue that the literacy education that set out to “compensate” these women for their earlier lack of educational opportunity has paradoxically reinforced their marginalization. Further, in recent years, they have become even more marginalized as the government has prioritized the education of recent young female marriage immigrants from Southeast Asia, who are considered in charge of educating the “future sons and daughters of Taiwan.” This research demonstrates how language socialization is a contested and life-long process and calls attention to the effects of language ideologies on literacy and language education. The findings have policy implications for improving literacy and language education both within Taiwan and elsewhere in the world.
Issue Date: 2010-01-06
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/14746
Rights Information: Copyright 2009 Shumin Lin
Date Available in IDEALS: 2010-01-06
2012-01-07
Date Deposited: December 2
 

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