Date of Graduation

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Department/Program

International and Multicultural Education

First Advisor

Susan Katz

Second Advisor

Sarah Capitelli

Third Advisor

Helen Maniates

Abstract

English learners (ELs), a growing population in U.S. schools, generally

underperform as compared to their monolingual English peers. One potential solution to this EL achievement gap has been the implementation of Dual Immersion (DI) programs. However, given that ELs are often densely concentrated in schools with limited access to native English-speaking peers, some schools do not have enough native English-speaking

students to constitute a true DI program.

This qualitative study explored language development practices in both Spanish and English in a Northern California hyper-segregated DI elementary school, where almost all the students were English learners. The participants were four Latina and Spanish teachers of kindergarten through fourth grade. The primary research focus was to identify the specific language development practices these teachers used. Secondary questions focused on teachers' use of transfer between languages and reciprocity among

reading, writing, listening and speaking. Three conceptual frameworks that

simultaneously impact ELs were employed to analyze the data: early literacy, second language acquisition, and sociocultural theory.

Research data included three months of classroom observations and interviews with teachers at the beginning, middle and end of the study. The findings revealed that while teachers implemented a variety of language development practices, such as choral practices, instructional conversations about language, and turn-and-talk, they did not ask students to think critically. Additionally, teachers rarely employed transfer or reciprocity.

On a positive note, teachers did actively advocate for primary language

maintenance and second language development. In fact, they evidenced significant agency in doing what they thought was best for their students despite a punitive, chaotic school context, resulting in a lack of a "program" in the DI program. Teachers knew they had to adapt the DI model based on their students and did so independently, without the support or knowledge of the site administrators or, in some cases, even their colleagues. Through sharing these significant findings, this study aims to contribute insights to the

challenges of how to best serve English learners in hyper-segregated public schools.

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