Language planning for biliteracy at a Korean American church school

Holly Pak, University of Pennsylvania


This study draws on literature and frameworks from language planning, heritage language learning, biliteracy, and language and identity to explore how languages are used at a Korean American church and Saturday language school, what the parents' goals and the children's perceptions toward language use and Korean identity are, and what the role of the Korean Church and School (KCS) in planning for language maintenance and biliteracy in English and Korean is. Through use of ethnographic methods and discourse analysis this study looks at the context of the church school from the perspective of the participants rather than from the majority non-Korean perspective, and conceptualizes the children as targets of language planning as well as meaning manipulators. Social pressures and interaction at the face-to-face level are explored in relation to ethnicity and identity, and the Continua of Biliteracy lens is used to zoom in and out and back and forth in the setting of the Korean church and school. The analysis of classroom discourse reveals that through the choice of activity, the teacher controlled to large extent whether the students' utterances were in Korean and/or English, the content of their utterances, and the length and complexity of their utterances in Korean and/or English. Yet the students were using their languages to contribute to the negotiation of meaning, and in so doing they were negotiating their identity as Korean and/or English speakers. Analysis of the themes within the interview and observational data showed that the KCS is a context that reverses the power relation between English and Korean from the norm outside of the Korean church in US mainstream society. In this context, the Korean adults desired their children to identify with being Korean, and for both the children and adults, Korean language expertise was a means as well as an end in that goal.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Linguistics|Educational sociology

Recommended Citation

Pak, Holly, "Language planning for biliteracy at a Korean American church school" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3165803.