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Open Access Publications from the University of California

“Speak Beautifully” - Language Policies and Practices In Public Kindergartens in Armenia

  • Author(s): Ghazaryan, Lilit
  • Advisor(s): Cartmill, Erica
  • et al.

Kindergartens in Armenia are the first state institution children encounter, and where they are first formally exposed to the language policies of the country. This thesis, based on ethnographic field work in 2 public kindergartens in 2019, examines the way state language policies and ideologies influence everyday teacher-child interactions in Yerevan, Armenia. The data corpus for this project consists of video recordings (40 hours in total), participant observations, and interviews. The focus is on child-directed corrections used by teachers as a means to implement state policies regarding the desired linguistic register – literary Armenian. During corrections, teachers encourage children to ‘speak beautifully’ ( i.e., using the literary Armenian register) and avoid markers of conversational Armenian and foreign language borrowings, particularly from Russian. Kindergartens serve as a site of contemporary geopolitics, where teachers reinforce state expectations of using literary Armenian by aligning it with the ideology of ‘speaking beautifully,’ thereby creating the possibility of discrimination against other codes and registers used in the community. Using the theoretical frameworks of language socialization (Ochs & Schieffelin, 1984; Schieffelin & Ochs, 1986), language ideologies (Irvine, J.T. & Gal, 2000; Kroskrity, 2004, 2015; Woolard & Schieffelin, 1994), and conversation analysis (Schegloff, 1992; Schegloff et al., 1977), this thesis illustrates how children are being socialized into hegemonic ideologies of language and nationality through correction and repair in kindergarten classrooms (Friedman, 2010b; Jefferson, 1987; Macbeth, 2004; Mchoul, 1990).

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