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“It's my language, my culture and it's personal!” Migrant mothers' experience of language use and identity change in their relationship with their children: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

By Joanna Farr, L. Blenkiron, R. Harris and Jonathan A. Smith


The question of how migrants’ language use impacts their ethnic identity has received considerable attention in the literature. There is, however, little understanding of how this relationship manifests or is negotiated in interethnic families. This paper presents an in-depth exploration of Spanish mothers’ experiences of Spanish- and English-language interactions with their English-born children. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with Spanish mothers living in Britain in interethnic partnerships and transcripts were subjected to interpretative phenomenological analysis. Analysis reveals a process of identity change where participants’ shifting ethnic identifications with host and heritage culture is intimately related to their language use with their children. Pivotal to this process is the participants’ need to maintain their ‘Spanish mother’ identity, a desire that can only be fulfilled by transferring their heritage language to their children and speaking it with them. Findings reveal how this dynamic impacts perception of family roles, relationship quality and psychological well-being

Topics: psyc
Publisher: Sage
Year: 2018
OAI identifier:

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