Cultural Identity Among Bilingual Students: From Students' Perspectives

  • Nien-Ching Chuang

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The issue of bilingual students’ cultural identity has been well researched for decades, but none has been done in the context of Taiwan from students’ viewpoints. This study aimed at bridging this gap by examining bilingual students’ perspectives on their cultural identification in an English partial immersion program. The participants were 42 fifth-and-sixth graders, 34 of whom were born in Taiwan, and eight overseas. Data from a 20-item questionnaire were triangulated with those from 15-minute interviews with students and two homeroom teachers. The questionnaire was to examine how bilingual students perceived themselves in relation to their native group (Chinese) and English in four domains—Media, Interpersonal Contacts, Education and Others. The follow-up interviews were to elicit in-depth student responses. The results showed that those students had higher identity scores to both Chinese and English, albeit the former were slightly lower than the latter, indicating their positive attitudes toward both languages and cultures. The interview data from homeroom teachers corroborated this finding. Both reported having observed students’ “healthy” attitudes toward Chinese and English, except those born overseas. Most of the students reported that they were good at both languages, and loved both cultures. The findings supported Downes’s (2001a) argument that immersion “does not seem to be promoting any negative feelings toward the native language and culture,” counter to popular belief that bilingual education would encroach on students’ ethnolinguistic identity.
Date of Award2008
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorHui-Tzu Min (Supervisor)

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