Bilingual students at the crossroads

Livia Gerber

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    Abstract

    Let me bust a prevalent urban myth: You do not need to be bi- or multilingual to become a linguist. There, busted. In fact, being bilingual initially brought me to a crossroads where I was nearly denied access to the academic pathway I am embarking on today. In Australia, despite native-like English proficiency, my migrant background dictated that I visit ESL classes throughout primary school; during secondary school in Switzerland, my Australian passport resulted in obligatory participation in Deutsch als Fremdsprache classes [German as a foreign language]. This ironic situation of seemingly being deemed ‘not good enough’ at either nation’s language of instruction initially crushed my hopes of being recommended for Gymnasium – the main entry ticket to tertiary education in Switzerland. Fortunately, thanks to a loophole or two, and an additional entry exam, my teachers were able to grant me the much desired recommendation. Without it, I would not have had the opportunity to undertake an academic pathway. Undoubtedly, mine is not the only story influenced by language learning trajectories.
    Original languageEnglish
    Specialist publicationLanguage on the move
    PublisherLanguage on the move
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2014

    Bibliographical note

    Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

    Keywords

    • 200401 applied linguistics and educational linguistics
    • 200405 language in culture and society (sociolinguistics)

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