"Make up your mind in the moment": Language ideologies of multiple discourses and code-switching

Meredith Jeta Donovan, Fordham University


Language ideologies—or beliefs and attitudes towards language, language use, and language varieties—are a defining feature of students' experience of schooling. In an ever more linguistically diverse school system, many adolescents participate in and code-switch between multiple discourses. This study explored adolescents' language ideologies of these multiple discourses and choices to code-switch between those discourses. In a case study of four participants, data were collected through narrative-response interviews, classroom observations, social observations, stimulated recall interviews, and writing samples. Data were analyzed through both open, inductive coding and using discourse analysis tools. Findings showed that the students possessed a variety of language ideologies and were constantly negotiating the conflict, ambiguity, and complexity between them. Their code-switching choices involved frequent use of nonstandard discourses in the classroom, but the students also believed in making nuanced, highly particular distinctions about what language is appropriate and when and how it should be used. In their beliefs about writing, the participants adhered to more conventions of Standard English, but they also made complex choices within that about grammar, style, vocabulary, and tone based on a variety of factors.

Subject Area

Language arts|Linguistics|Middle School education

Recommended Citation

Donovan, Meredith Jeta, ""Make up your mind in the moment": Language ideologies of multiple discourses and code-switching" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3703218.