This paper focuses on children’s language alternation practices in two primary school settings. More specifically we explore how participants (children and teachers) in episodes of language alternation invoke linguistic and social identities, thereby “talking into being” language and educational ideologies. The present study is based on multi-sited ethnography in two multiethnic educational settings where classroom activities are primarily in Swedish. Theoretically, it draws on sequential identity-related approaches to language alternation practices (Gafaranga, 2001). As demonstrated, children both draw on a range of linguistic varieties, and refrained from involving in poly-lingual practices. In so doing, they were actively engaged in producing and resisting a range of locally valued identities (i.e. monolingual, bilingual, poly-lingual student). Simultaneously a monolingual norm was brought into being, and, importantly, the children appropriated and exploited the monolingual norms-in being for organizing their social relations. Overall the study highlights the links between social and linguistic identities, language choice, and language and educational ideologies. We argue that an understanding of children’s poly-lingual practices in multilingual settings is provided by a close analysis of the local processes of identity work located within the wider socio-cultural context (e.g., language and educational ideologies).Key words: language alternation, linguistic and social identity, monolingual norm, multilingual classes, poly-lingual practices, multi-sited ethnography, Membership Categorization Analysis (MCA)
2008. Vol. 5, no 3, 177-196 p.