International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Bilingualism as Ideology and Practice–Stories from Chinese Heritage Language Learners
Jing Lei

Using the concept of “figured world”, this paper explores the dynamics of Chinese heritage language education as ideology and practice in upstate New York. My main focus is on how Chinese American children, through learning and use of Chinese language, are able to construct, negotiate, and make sense of multiple selves across various socio-cultural contexts (school, family, community, and media). My findings illuminate that learning Chinese is not just for cultural retention or for ethnic pride. It also serves as an instrumental investment that allows these youths to have practical images, expectations, and self-actualizations that extend beyond temporal spatial limits. Thus, heritage language education involves multiple figured worlds, within which individuals' identities and agency are formed dialectically and dialogically. As such, bilingualism for these immigrant children is not only a matter of ideologies in the Diaspora, but also a social practice of the imagination in global cultural processes.

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