An emic perspective on silence: Experiences of an adult Mexican migrant in the U.S. social setting

(1) * John Turnbull Mail (The University of Texas at San Antonio, United States)
*corresponding author


This qualitative case study explores the personal experience of Daniela, a Spanish-speaking adult immigrant from Mexico, who lived and worked in the United States, as she navigates her ways through an everyday social context distinct from her own cultural origin. The article presents Daniela’s view on the silent practice of herself and others whereby her perception takes shape through a process of constant adaptation and struggle with challenges such as anxiety, separation due to language, and ways of communicating. Amidst all these emerges the question of language choice as Daniela moves between English and Spanish for contextual reasons that unpredictably reproduce various degrees of social isolation, power disparity, and economic pressures. With insights from such anecdotal accounts, the discussion argues for the importance of comprehending silence by situating the topic in its immediate social circumstances rather than as a stand-alone construct; and eventually draws implications for second-language acquisition (SLA) in a real-world context.


silence; human migration; social isolation; second-language acquisition; U.S.-Mexico migration



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