Faith-based languaculture: church as a place of language education and community-family connnecting

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University of Alabama Libraries

The purpose of this study is to discover how church-based ESL programs affect immigrant adult learners' second language socialization. Also, this study is to examine the ways in which immigrant adult learners' second language socialization through the programs may, in turn, be associated with changes in cultural capital in their families. The findings indicate that newly arrived immigrant families in which English is not the primary language of parents encounter an increasing linguistic and cultural disjuncture and a communication gap between parents and children. The intergenerational disjuncture and community gap lead to family estrangement and parental dysfunction. This has become the main reason for immigrant adult learners' participation in the programs. The church-based ESL instructors act not merely as friends, facilitators, and mentors, but they also serve as community brokers and advocates for social justice. The programs have developed into places where immigrant adults are provided with legitimate speaking positions and their voices and linguistic and cultural identities are affirmed. Further, the programs provide immigrant adult learners with access to social integration and authentic language practice in real life contexts. The findings indicate that church-based ESL programs enhance immigrant adults' second language socialization and community engagement. Learners' increasing language socialization promotes cultural capital in their families and community-family connecting. The multiple effects of immigrant adults' increasing participation in the programs are discussed, such as immigrant adults' increasing school involvement, family-together language and literacy practices, reclaimed ownership of home language, and transformation into advocates for families and ethnic communities. This study argues that church-based ESL programs are figured worlds that are not natural but nurtured and naturalized. English education in the figured worlds is a process of being and empowerment of immigrant adults' self-authoring agency. Cultural and religious dispositions embedded in the church-based discourse seem to impose orders of power and Christianity on learners, which in turn cause some immigrant adults' resistance and non-participation in the programs.

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Bilingual education, English as a second language, Multicultural education