HL2C-SLLAT Seminar: Ava Becker (University of Alberta)

Thursday 24 November 2022, 5:00pm to 6:00pm


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Event Details

HL2C-SLLAT Seminar: Ava Becker (University of Alberta)

Title: Heritage language development three generations after exile: Insights from a language socialization study

Presenter(s): Ava Becker (University of Alberta)

How to join: The seminars are free to attend. Simply sign up to the HL2C Mailing List or to the SLLAT mailing list to receive the link to join us via Microsoft Teams link. You do not need a Teams account to access the talk.

About: This is a joint event, co-organized by the Heritage Language 2 Consortium (HL2C) and the Second Language Learning and Teaching (SLLAT) Research Group.


Difficult migration narratives are routinely marginalized in formal learning contexts (e.g., Marshall & Toohey, 2010), even though they may constitute a key part of students’ identities and connection to the language/s and culture/s of their heritage (Avineri, 2019; Becker, 2013, 2014). In this presentation, I present findings from a recent year-long, multi-sited ethnographic case study that I conducted in a Western Canadian city with three generations of one Chilean-Canadian family (Becker, 2021). The grandparents had come to Canada as refugees in the 1970s fleeing the Pinochet regime, and the grandchildren were being socialized into Spanish at home and in a Spanish-English bilingual program at school.

Using tools for discourse and thematic analysis (e.g., Ochs & Capps, 2001; Saldaña, 2013), I demonstrate the significance of difficult cultural knowledge in the family’s language and literacy socialization practices outside of school, the children’s dynamic sense of imagined transnationalism (Duff, 2015), and the ways that their Indigenous identities were eclipsed by Hispanic identities in their Spanish-language program at school (e.g., Calderón & Urrieta, 2019). Nevertheless, the children consistently demonstrated highly creative and agentive ways to claim authorship and ownership of their difficult cultural knowledge. The study has significant implications for teaching heritage language learners in post-exile contexts.


  • Avineri, N. (2019). The ‘heritage narratives’ of Yiddish metalinguistic community members. In E. Falconi & K. Graber (Eds.), The tales we tell: Storytelling and narrative practice (pp. 90–135). Boston, MA: Brill Publishers.
  • Becker A (2021) After Exile: Heritage Language and Literacy Socialization across Three Generations in One Chilean-Canadian family. PhD Thesis, Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia.
  • Becker, A. (2014). Funds of (difficult) knowledge and the affordances of multimodality: The case of Victor. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 10(2), 17–33.
  • Becker, A. (2013). Political ideology and heritage language development in a Chilean exile community: A multiple case study (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.
  • Calderon, D., & Urrieta Jr, L. (2019). Studying in relation: Critical Latinx indigeneities and education. Equity & Excellence in Education, 52(2–3), 219–238.
  • Duff, P. A. (2015). Transnationalism, multilingualism, and identity. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 35, 57–80.
  • Marshall, E., & Toohey, K. (2010). Representing family: Community funds of knowledge, bilingualism, and multimodality. Harvard Educational Review, 80(2), 221–242.
  • Ochs, E., & Capps, L. (2001). Living narrative: Creating lives in everyday storytelling. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Saldaña, J. (2013). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Contact Details

Name Patrick Rebuschat




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