AfricaNSFThe Research University (TRU)

DOCTORAL DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Language Socialization in a Fulbe Community (Maroua, Cameroon): University of California-Los Angeles

Elinor Ochs

[email protected]

Like many children in Africa and the rest of the world, Fulbe children in Maroua learn to use more than one language in their daily lives. Their linguistic repertoire comes to include Fulfulde, French, Arabic, and a simplified variety of Fulfulde. Thus, at an age when children are busy consolidating, re-organizing, and expanding their first language skills, Fulbe children encounter three new codes that they must also learn to use according to the linguistic and cultural rules of their families, schools, and peer groups. This project will investigate the development of communicative competence in multiple codes through a language socialization study. Over the course of nine months, or one school year, six children (three girls and three boys) will be observed and recorded as they learn to participate in routine language activities with more knowledgeable persons in home, neighborhood, public school, and koranic school settings. Data collection will be focused on three types of language routines: prompting, question-answer exchanges, and narrative. Annotated transcripts of these recordings will be complemented by participant observation and interviews with family members, teachers, and education officials. <br/><br/>The goal of this longitudinal, ethnographic study is to obtain greater understanding of how children growing up in a linguistically heterogeneous setting learn to use multiple languages and varieties thereof in culturally appropriate ways. More specifically, this study will document linguistic variation to which the children are routinely exposed, local language ideologies about languages and language varieties used in the community, and language socialization practices in the homes and schools of these children. Home and school language socialization practices will be compared and their impact on the children's development of communicative competence in Fulfulde, French, and Arabic will be examined.

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