Transcultural Lives of Myanmar Migrant Youths in Thailand: Language Acquisition, Self-perceived Integration, and Sense of Belonging
Globalisation and international mobility have led people to settle in vastly different cultural contexts. Transnationally situated migrant families are becoming a more regular feature of children’s and youths’ lives in today’s world. Thailand, one of four major economies in Southeast Asia, hosts over half of the region’s migrant workers. In 2018, there were three million migrants living in Thailand and an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 of those were children and youths. It has been noted that migration experiences constitute substantial interferences in children’s and youths’ development and well-being, given the environmental and cultural changes they are exposed to. However, despite this trend, very few studies focus on the children of migrant workers. Language and language acquisition are central issues in debates about transculturation, cultural identity in transnational migration, as well as integration in host countries. Based on qualitative research with Myanmar migrant workers’ children, aged between 12 and 18, in two Migrant Learning Centres (MLCs) in Ranong province in southern Thailand, this study contributes to current debates on transnational family migration by arguing for the centrality of language acquisition in the everyday lives of young migrants and their self-perceived integration into the host society.
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