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Maintaining Migrant Languages

Imagine that you have just moved to Edmonton from a part of the world in which English is not the dominant language. You were able to take English as a Second Language courses in your previous home, and you are fairly comfortable speaking it. You have two children, ages two and six, when you arrive. They only speak your home language. The older child will have to go to school, while the younger child will need to have care during the day while you work. You obviously want them to learn English, but you are also concerned that they maintain their ability to speak their home language. What factors might you consider in deciding where to send your children to school and choosing a care provider? What barriers and limitations would you face in making these choices? What factors do you think might lead to them losing their ability to speak and use their original language? Why is it important to you that they maintain this language?


Spring/Summer 2017

Assignment Guidelines: Library Assignment


SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS: Please submit your assignment on Blackboard as a PDF file. No email or hard copy submissions will be accepted. See the syllabus for policies on extensions and late assignments. Please also make sure you familiarize yourself with the policies on academic integrity included in the syllabus and on MacEwan’s website.

Learning Objectives:

The goal of this assignment is to develop some of the most important basic research skills for all university classes – identifying a topic that interests you, using a library database to find relevant scholarly articles on that topic, reading and summarizing the key points of those articles using clear, well-organized language, and citing the sources you have used.

Assignment Instructions

Fill in the template provided. In the relevant sections, you will:

  1. Describe the topic that you have chosen in a short paragraph. Briefly outline what is interesting to you about this topic and how you think it might be related to anthropology. This assignment is to be completed very early in the semester, so it’s ok if you only have a vague sense of that connection at this point – the goal here is to be able to think about the wide range of possibilities for studying ‘what it means to be human’. You may use first person in this paragraph (e.g. “I chose to write about …”).
  2. Provide citations for three scholarly, anthropological articles that you find on this topic. See below for guidelines on finding and assessing appropriate sources.
  3. Write a discussion of what you learn about the topic from these three articles. You should clearly identify the contributions made by each of the different articles, compare differences between them, and assess which of them you found the most useful in learning about the topic.


Further Instructions: Finding Sources

For all university classes, it is very important to be able to tell the difference between scholarly sources and other types of sources. Scholarly writing has gone through a process called peer review to make sure the information is of high quality for the standards of the discipline it is written in. This means that anthropology papers are reviewed by anthropology experts, and physics papers are reviewed by physics experts, and Mr. Potato Head facial analytics papers are reviewed by Mr. Potato Head experts, and so on. This doesn’t mean that other types of information is inherently less true – major news organizations and publications, for example, have rigorous standards for fact-checking the information they publish – but that the type of knowledge you can gain from them should be seen differently than scholarly writing. Most (though not all!) of the time, you will be expected to rely primarily on scholarly writing for your university assignments.

The best way to find scholarly writing on a topic is to use the MacEwanlibrary website. From there, you can either use the library’s search engine, or use one of the databases available for finding appropriate sources. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these – the library search engine is very powerful, but can provide a lot of information to sift through if you don’t know how to use it well. The databases can do some narrowing for you, but may exclude some great sources for reasons unknown to you. For this assignment, you may use either of these options, and you should try both of them to see how they give you different results.

To use the library search engine, some tips are:

  • After you enter your search term and hit “search”, look at the column on the left hand side of the “results” page
  • Under “limit to:” select “peer-reviewed”
  • Under “source type”: select “academic journals”
  • You may also choose to limit based on what language(s) you are proficient in, or based on the dates of publication (you should be conscious that for certain topics, relying on old sources is going to result in bad, outdated information – for example, if your topic is ‘how the internet is changing communication among young people’, sources from the late 1990s are going to be almost ridiculous to use.
  • Play around with how narrow or how broad you are in your search term choice. For many topics, it’s important to include the word ‘anthropology’ for this type of assignment. For example, lots of different types of scholars study how children learn language (linguists, psychologists, educators…), but you need to make sure for this assignment that you are seeing what anthropologists have to say about that.

To use the library databases

  • Go to the library webpage, click the “find a database” heading. Under the “find by type” menu, select ‘articles’, and under the “find by subject”, select ‘anthropology’.
  • The databases on the list include some that cover anthropology as a whole and others that cover only more limited areas of anthropology (like archeology or world religions, for example). Make sure to choose one that is appropriate for your topic.
  • Other, more general databases are also very useful ways of finding articles. Google scholar is a powerful source, and JSTOR, Scopus, or Academic Search complete cover a wide range of areas. Again, in using these broader databases, you need to be sure to filter your results carefully to get what you are looking for.
  • You can also find databases with anthropology related articles on the library website by selecting “Subject Guides: Anthropology” and then “articles”.

Regardless of how you are searching, you might need to try more than once with either broader or more narrow search terms to find good information. Review the sources that you see to confirm that they are relevant to your topic, that they are from peer-reviewed journals, and that they are anthropological. You should be able to do this by checking the name of the journal and the article abstract.

Here are some very clear explanations you can consult to figure out if an article is “scholarly”

If any of this is confusing or unclear, please come see me sooner rather than later. You can also consult the library website for tips and tutorials under the “Research How To” section.

Citing Sources

In any course that you take, you have to learn to use the style guide that is chosen by your professor, generally because it is standard for use in the discipline. Is it a massive annoyance that there are all these different rules about where to put commas and brackets and it all seems so frustrating? Yes, of course it is. There is a kind of logic to each system that is impossible to see from where you are, as students, but it is there, and it is important to learn to navigate a style guide so that you can apply this appropriately in the future.

The system most often used within anthropology is the Chicago Manual of Style AUTHOR/DATE version. This means that if you’ve used Chicago Style for, say, a History class, you’re still going to be learning a different version. This one doesn’t use footnotes for quotes and other pieces of information, but rather brackets. You can find all the information you need on the electronic version of the Chicago Style Guide here (note: you may have to be logged in with your MacEwan credentials to have full, consistent access to this information:

A handy trick to know for the preparation of your bibliographies is that if you search an article on Google Scholar and click ‘cite’, it will give you the appropriate citation information in basically all the styles you might ever need to use.

Here are some additional useful resources on references and citing in Anthropology:

MacEwan’s Writing and Learning Services has a great introduction to “What is Plagiarism”


Your total discussion space for this assignment is only a couple of paragraphs long, so you really have to get straight to the point about each of the articles. What did you learn from each one? Were there differences between them? Which would you find most useful if you had to write a term paper about the topic?

If you need some help with writing and summarizing, you can see the suggestions provided by Writing and Learning Services, or from some writing centres at other universities, specifically directed at anthropology



A template has been provided for you below (last page) and a word version has also been uploaded to Blackboard. You MUST use this template. Your assignment should not be any longer than 1 page. You MUST upload your final document as a PDF to Blackboard.

Grading Criteria:


Selection of an appropriate topic:

– the topic is related to the course themes

– the student provides a clear and concise summary of the topic in their own words


– correct citations are provided for three sources

-all three articles are from scholarly, anthropological journals


– the student clearly identifies and articulates the main argument of each article

-the student describes any differences between them

-the student provides a clear assessment of the articles for a hypothetical research paper

Grammar and Style

– the assignment is free of spelling and grammatical errors

– the assignment is well organized and  clearly written

Overall Comments


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