Fiji school students' multilingual language choices when talking with friends

Suzanne C. Hopf, Sharynne McLeod, Sarah H. McDonagh

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - Fiji is a multicultural and linguistically multi-competent country. Historical ethnic divisions have socialised students into language friendships based around common languages. Recent changes to educational policy, specifically the mandating of students learning all three of the Standard languages of Fiji (Fijian, Hindi, and English), have been introduced in hope that cross-linguistic understanding will encourage a greater sense of national identity amongst all Fijians regardless of ethnicity. This study explores one multilingual school environment considering students' language use, attitudes and friendships in light of these policies. Methodology/approach - A convergent mixed-methods research design using surveying, artefact collection, students' drawing and observation was employed. Findings - The majority of students reported some proficiency in the language of their inter-ethnic peers; however, students' inter-ethnic friendships predominantly relied on English language use. It was observed that most friendships amongst these Fijian primary school students were still established according to main language use at home; however, inter-ethnic peer interaction in English was observed to be friendly and respectful. These language use patterns and friendship behaviours were potentially reinforced by individual and societal multilingualism, in addition to the school environment. Originality/value - The chapter presents the first research linking Fijian primary school students' language choices and friendship development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFriendship and peer culture in multilingual settings
EditorsMaryanne Theobald
Place of PublicationBingley, UK
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages34
ISBN (Print)9781786353962
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameSociological Studies of Children and Youth
PublisherJAI Press
ISSN (Print)1537-4661

Grant Number

  • FT0990588


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