Engaged ethnography at a Samoan community language center: Culturally-based literacy and learning

Plumb, Emily Gazda
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The study described in this report investigates the ideologies of literacy at Le Fetuao Samoan Language Center, a Samoan community language school located on the island of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. I was invited to do research at Le Fetuao by Elisapeta Tuupo-Alaimaleata, the executive director and founder of Le Fetuao, when we were in a graduate seminar together at the University of Hawai‘i. I expressed interest in conducting research about the development of multilingual literacy and Tuupo-Alaimaleata invited me to visit her school because she was interested in exploring the role of literacy in Le Fetuao’s program implementation. In this report, I first present a conceptual framework that draws on theories of language ideologies, literacy, and cultural values. I briefly describe the cultural and historical background of Le Fetuao and describe my engaged approach to research methodology and data analysis. I then present my findings, which I draw from six months of observations at Le Fetuao and interviews with Samoan community leaders and language teachers. Ultimately, I discuss implications for community language schools and an engaged approach to community research.
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