ABSTRACT

In a rural community in the Midwestern United States, a ten year old boy named Juan, recently arrived from Mexico, struggles to follow the English lesson. His fi rst language is Spanish, but I also learn that he speaks P’urhépecha, because the other children tease him about it. He blushes when this is mentioned, and over the next two years I never hear him talk about or in this language. At the end of the two years I spent as a researcher in his classroom, his English has improved dramatically, and by the end of 6th grade he can often be heard speaking English with his friends, although all of them speak Spanish as their fi rst language. Although Spanish is still part of his identity, the indigenous language he was embarrassed to mention has been eliminated from his social world.