Bilingualism and Cultural Identity in the Latinx Community
Mentors: Tania Lizarazo, Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication; Renee Lambert-Bretiere, Modern Language, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication, UMBC
Latinx cultural identity is constantly under pressure to be one feature at home and within the community, but to be something else outside. One difficulty faced by Latinx individuals when embracing bilingualism as their cultural identity is the stigmatization and stereotyping of being gangbangers, minimum wage workers, and hypersexualized femme fatale as part of their Latinx authenticity. Commonly, the Latinx cultural identity is generalized as only one culture. Many Latinxs have to constantly prove their English competency at school or at their workplace, living in fear and with anxiety to be replaced by their monolingual or bilingual peers that have no accent and sound more American. There is a misconception supporting the idea that learning more than one language affects developmental milestones in children. Therefore, some educators will suggest to Latinx families avoiding teaching their children their native language because this will affect their acquisition of standard English and ultimately affect their school performance. Translanguaging when speaking both languages is preferred by Latinxs because they identify their bilingualism as one repertory that uses either language depending on the need. This study may be relevant for the inclusion of bilingual individuals not only within UMBC but also in a globalized world.
This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs