Socially Situated Language Learning for Immigrant Women Entrepreneurs in the US: A Qualitative Study


Language and linguistic norms are central to transnational women entrepreneur’s experience who may speak multiple languages or need to acquire new communication skills to access resources like education, social, and economic opportunities. Warriner (2017) emphasize language and literacy as key linguistic dimensions of teaching and learning outside formal educational environments that require expanding notions of context. These expanded notions include examining the social, cultural, and historical aspects of day-to-day learning. In this study we examine the ways that language and linguistic norms are navigated in day-to-day life for immigrant women entrepreneurs. The following research questions guide this study. 1) How do participants navigate day-today learning experiences related to language and linguistic norms? 2) What are participants’ language and linguistic norms learning strategies? We apply a socio-cultural and transnational feminist conceptual framework to examine immigrant women entrepreneurs’ linguistic norms and language learning in the US to examine how power dynamics within social environment impact learners (Alfred, 2002; Esmonde & Booker, 2016). We find that language and communication bridge cultural fluidity through access to resources. Access to resources extend beyond individuals encompassing engagement with various parts of society. Communicating, language learning and mimicking linguistic norms provides the ability to go between one’s own culture and blend into others when advantageous. Navigating language and communication results in day-to-day learning innovation through access gained by learning quickly. English mastery and performative American-ness is not protective against others’ perceptions about whether someone belongs as part of a community. Blending in is not necessarily belonging.


Sarah Ray
Assistant Professor, Human and Organizational Learning, The George Washington University, District of Columbia, United States

Petra Alaine Robinson
Associate Professor, School of Leadership and Human Resource Development, Louisiana State University, Louisiana, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Adult, Community, and Professional Learning


Social Learning, Adult Education, Women Entrepreneurs

Digital Media

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