Council on Anthropology and Education
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Language mixing or translanguaging has been elevated as a strategy for enhancing bilingual students’ academic success by bridging home and school language practices, fostering classroom participation, and foregrounding students’ critical perspectives and cultural-historical knowledge. However, little is known about the consequences of translanguaging for college access. In this paper, I illuminate the extension of bilingual academic success from K-12 contexts through postsecondary transitions by investigating Spanish-English bilingual youth’s language performances on the path to college. Drawing from in-depth ethnographic interviews with six bilingual Latinx youth in the Midwest U.S., I analyze how youth leveraged their bilingual, immigrant-origin, and first-generation college student identities to create empowering narratives for successful college entrance essays. In telling their stories, youth intentionally shifted among multiple perspectives on their college readiness in order to strategically narrate their experiences to enhance their college applications. These shifts in narrative stance are analyzed according to narrative voice, targeted audience, and implications through the lens of a bilingual critical awareness fostered by lived bilingual/bicultural experiences. Lastly, I discuss the emotional, academic, and financial affordances of these narrative abilities for bilingual youth, who leveraged a critical awareness of language-as-performance to design, realize, and navigate their paths to college. This work extends the literature on translanguaging to include college-bound students and their postsecondary transitions, further supporting complex and equitable framings of bilingual youth as they find their voices to advocate for their academic success.