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Advice to speak English in Australia

MARIO DANIEL MARTÍN
Ethnicities
Vol. 8, No. 1 (March 2008), pp. 68-101
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23890063
Page Count: 34
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Abstract

This article addresses the issue of advice given to immigrant parents to speak English only with their children in Australia, as reflected in the Spanish-speaking community. The article shows that something that appears to be down to chance, i.e. whether this advice is given or not, has a social explanation. This social explanation is based on understanding several social variables such as the ethnic identity of the adviser and the year in which the advice was given, as well as social variables that define the individual who received the advice, notably, his/her physical appearance in the sense of how 'Caucasian' the migrant looks. Such analysis sheds light on the changing perception of migrants in Australia. It was found that, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, when there was an Australian government-sponsored policy of multiculturalism, there was an increase in the number of people being advised to speak English only. It is hypothesized that such increase is linked to the conflict and contest that any recognition of linguistic and social rights for minorities precipitates.

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