Why is Language Missing From the Conversation?
Why do we forget to consider language as another dimension of our social experience? Because we take it for granted. Language is such a regularly embedded and embodied aspect of our everyday experience, we sometimes are unaware of how it can contextually shift in its use to construct ideals of woman, nation, or Arabic-speaker, for example.
The video posted below on "Study Abroad in Jordan" is my latest installment of the #LanguageStory video series, and follows two college students, Laye and Erica, in their sojourn to Amman, Jordan. I met each of them during my time as an ethnographer embedded in Jordan, and their friendship is all the more powerful considering their many differences: Laye is a first-generation Muslim immigrant to the U.S., and Erica is a White American woman with aspirations for a career in Dubai.
Watch the Video.
It's Real: Race and Gender Have Impacts on Second Language Learning.
Both Erica and Laye enjoy their life abroad in Amman, Jordan, and view it as an extraordinary opportunity. Their friendship has fostered a unique brand of colloquial Arabic between them. However, as it turns out, their study abroad experiences diverge in ways that relate to how their bodies are gendered and raced by others in Amman. Across each of their experiences, language remains another dimension through which they experience difference.
For Erica, being seen as a woman narrows her opportunities to converse with men. In her homestay situation, this also leads to marriage as the central topic of conversation. This has the effect of narrowing her potential