By Julia Menard-Warwick

This ethnographic research of a California English as a moment Language software explores how the gendered lifestyles reviews of immigrant adults form their participation in either the English language lecture room and the schooling in their kids, in the modern sociohistorical context of Latin American immigration to the USA.

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This process was gendered in that young male immigrants found 30 Gendered Identities and Immigrant Language Learning more identity options open to them (as rappers and djs) than did their female counterparts. In Skilton-Sylvester’s (2002) study, she showed how Cambodian refugee women’s decisions about whether to continue ESL studies depended on the extent to which the classes addressed their lived experiences of work and family life. Finally, Gordon described Lao women in Philadelphia ‘negotiating domestic events’ (Gordon, 2004: 446), such as interacting with school personnel, selling used cars and advocating for their adolescent children in the juvenile justice system.

Because my participants tended to see me as an English teacher, the insights they shared with me and the narratives they told me could be viewed as addressed to the ESL profession. If telling narratives is an act of self-presentation, then the selves in these narratives are the selves that these Latino/a immigrant students 24 Gendered Identities and Immigrant Language Learning chose to present to an Anglo educator (Ochs & Capps, 1996). I do not claim to speak for or even with my research participants (Alcoff, cited in Dutro, 2002–2003), but I am trying to pass their messages along.

They spoke Spanish at home with their families, and intended to continue doing so, but expected their children to learn English and succeed in school. Aware of economic decline in California and of discrimination against immigrants, at the same time, as Jean said, ‘they still ha(d) a lot of hope […] and energy’ (Interview, 2/6/03). As I got to know the immigrants who participated in my research, I found it hard to reconcile their productive lives with the negative pictures of Latino immigration presented by anti-immigrant advocates such as Camarota (2001).

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