Student Summer Scholars


identity, language practices, ideologies, Nepali-Bhutanese, West Michigan


English Language and Literature




The languages that we use are a result of our identities and the social contexts and related roles in which we participate. The language practices of one small community of ethnic Nepali-Bhutanese who were revoked citizenship in Bhutan, expelled into refugee camps in Nepal for nearly twenty years, and who now reside in Grand Haven, Michigan were of interest here. Identity, Language Practices and Ideologies among Nepali-Bhutanese in West Michigan builds on previous research that examines the relationship between language choice and socio-cultural factors such gender, age, language proficiency, education, citizenship, and context among multi-lingual speakers (Baquedano-López 2009, Booth 2009, Grimley 2001, Kachru et al 2009, Meinhof & Galasinski 2005, Fillmore 2000). In the current study we examined the linguistic means by which Nepali-Bhutanese negotiate American English speaking culture while simultaneously retaining their Nepali-Bhutanese languages and culture. Data included recorded ethnographic interviews, participant observation, and written texts such as email, Facebook wall posts, and essays, and were organized on axes of grammatical indicators of identity, language loss, language perception and cultural identity formation through language. A potential benefit of this study is to aid ESL (English as a Second Language) tutors and teachers, social workers and the wider community of West Michigan in better serving, assimilating and welcoming this growing population. In addition, the results of the project may help trained educators, volunteers, and the Nepali-Bhutanese better understand language practices and their effects on identity, cultural assimilation and accommodation, as well as the teaching and learning of ESL.