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Mexican Transmigration, National Belonging, and Linguistic Citizenship


for Members

Mexican Transmigration, National Belonging, and Linguistic Citizenship

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wenner-Gren Foundation

Presented By

Presented by the Anthropology Section


Inglés Sin Barreras [English without Barriers] is English-language program that is the progenitor of all self-study programs for Spanish speakers in the United States. It is also a pop-culture phenomenon. Retailing for up to $3,000 (with most people buying it at 21 percent interest), and comprised of books, DVDs, and CDs, Inglés Sin Barreras is the most advertised product on Spanish-language TV. More advertised in fact than Coca-Cola or McDonald’s, ads for the program appear every 15 minutes from dawn to dusk on both Univisión and Telemundo. Jokes are made about it on Sabado Gigante, the popular television variety show, it is referred to in Spanish rap songs, and it was featured in the film Spanglish. For immigrants whose bodies, cultural practices, and languages are marginalized, migration is a “life-long process of negotiating identity, difference, and the right to fully exist in the new context” (Benmayor and Skotnes, 1994, p. 8). Drawing from a larger ethnographic study, this talk focuses on the commodification of language learning and the complex ideologies of language learning that are produced through migrants’ interactions with Inglés Sin Barreras.


Char Ullman

University of Texas El Paso

Char Ullman is an educational anthropologist and assistant professor of bilingual/ESOL education at the University of Texas at El Paso. Her work explores the relationships among language learning, globalization, and commodification.