Practicing Language: The Dynamic Language Geographies of Young Migrants’ Talk in London and Glasgow

Reference work entry


Framed by work across the fields of language geographies and migrant geographies, this chapter sets out to explore language as a social category that can be used to explore notions of identity and integration. Specifically, this chapter draws on empirical research from a 2012 research project alongside doctoral work about young migrants in Britain. Through the voices of migrants aged 14–24, associated practitioners, and English language teachers, this chapter reveals the saliency of language (chiefly speech) in the production of identities and the promotion of integration. Through mobilizing theories relating to identity performance and building upon the notion that words do “real” work in the world, this chapter shows how young migrants understand the role of language in their lives and use it to “represent the self,” uncovering how they understand language to be implicit in positioning oneself in situated social encounters and society more broadly. While attentive to questions of representation, this chapter also reveals more about the situated dynamics and practice of “talk,” highlighting how and what language is used with whom and where, as migrant children seek to “get-by” in communicative registers. The chapter concludes by discussing the dynamic social and spatial phenomena of young migrants’ language practices and revealing how they are temporally and spatially variable.


Childhood and youth, Language acquisition, Migration, Identity performance, Language and integration, Language as practice 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geographical and Earth SciencesUniversity of GlasgowGlasgow, ScotlandUK

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