Speaking Mennonite at School: A Narrative Analysis of the Role of Language in Immigrant Educational Experiences

Christine Kampen Robinson


This paper examines the ways in which 1.5-generation immigrant mothers from a marginalized minority group (Low German-speaking Mennonites from Mexico) construct school experiences in relation to language. Starting from the perspective of identity as being constructed in language, analysis of audio-recorded interviews and focus group discussions collected during 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork demonstrates a connection and an inherent tension between the ways in which participants construct their own experiences and how they construct their children’s experiences. Results illustrate the impact of language and literacy on their identity constructions, the use of language as an act of civic engagement, and how the agentive capacity demonstrated through these constructions both engages with and contests broader social processes.


Identity, Low German, migration, multilingualism, positioning theory, public school

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.20360/G2396S