Maternal Perceptions of Agency in Intergenerational Transmission of Spanish: The case of Latinos in the U.S. Midwest

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This article examines the ways in which a group of first-generation Latino immigrants to the U.S. Midwest conceptualized their role in their children's bilingual development. Respondents were asked to identify the individuals or institutions on which their children's language and academic development depended, as well as household practices perceived as conducive to Spanish maintenance, and perceived obstacles to their children's use of Spanish in the domains of home, school, and community. Discussion centers on maternal perceptions of agency because of the centrality of the mother in intergenerational minority language transmission. It is argued here that immigrant mothers' perceptions of agency are impacted by several factors. Among them: the experience of migration, the power imbalance created when their children are more fluent than the parents are in the majority language and culture, and finally, by the negotiation of ideological tensions between members of intra-community Latino networks of solidarity and the community at large.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-152
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Language, Identity and Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2014



  • Midwest
  • Spanish
  • bilingualism
  • gender
  • intergenerational transmission
  • speaker perceptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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