“Teanga de la Nativa (The native’s tongue): an ethnographic analysis of immersion language learning in study-abroad institutes,” Veerendra P. Lele

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The Global Studies Seminar welcomes Veerendra P. Lele, Associate Professor of Anthropology & Sociology, Global Commerce and International Studies presenting, “Teanga de la Nativa (The native’s tongue): an ethnographic analysis of immersion language learning in study-abroad institutes.” Lele is a broadly-trained anthropologist with primary research interests in semiotic anthropology, material culture and archaeology, racial, ethnic, and linguistic identity. Additionally, his secondary research interests focus on kinship, demography, philosophy, and history, both of which can be described as the semiotics of material culture and of cultural identities. Most of his fieldwork has been conducted in Ireland, in Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) communities, and more recently he has begun research in Central America. Lele’s ongoing research investigates the phenomenological, temporal, and semiotic manifestations of material objects from the past in the present, specifically on artefacts.

Language study in immersion programs in other countries provides a host of wonderful opportunities for the motivated student. It also poses interesting challenges and complex situations. Because language study programs exist within a broader cultural context and within a globally-interconnected political economy, and given the dramatic inequalities that exist globally, participation in such programs (and by extension, in all study-abroad programs) is never neutral. Based upon Lele’s own language study in Ireland, Costa Rica, and Guatemala, he provides an ethnographic description and analysis of these dynamics.


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