«A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education in the Graduate Division of ...»
As demonstrated through this study, program stakeholders who identified with the different communities did bring different language ideologies to discussions of the meaning of language learning and use in TWI settings. The most significant difference was apparent between teachers and administrators who identified with the TWI community, and those who identified with the World Language community. These differences were based in contrasting ideologies of student autonomy of language use and teacher control of language learning. In general, the two communities represented Bakhtin’s (1981) concepts of centrifugal and centripetal language forces, as they came into dialogic contact with each other through school district structures. Their emphasis on language learning and use led to very different ideas about the outcomes of the object of language learning. The TWI teachers and administrators emphasized the use of Spanish as a medium of instruction in a wide range of academic and social domains, in the development of literacy practices and critical thinking, and in ways that allowed students significant autonomy over their own learning and language use. The teachers and administrators who identified with the World Language community emphasized control of certain features of the Spanish language, concentrating on, as Ms.
These deeply held and unresolved differences in language ideologies contributed to the failure of real program reform, the presumed aim of the middle school Program Review. While district leaders represented the process of Program Review as having successfully addressed the concerns of all the stakeholders, the persistent difference in language ideologies among them, and the effort to avoid conflict among the Program Review participants, led to the use of a flawed unifying metaphor of the middle school SI program as a bridge between the elementary TWI experience and secondary World Language classes to resolve their differences. They subsequently produced equally flawed policy statement that attempted to create consensus by attempting to give attention to concerns on both sides of the middle school “bridge.” Finally, district officials tried to bring further resolution to the differences between the communities by the imposition of a curricular plan on middle school teachers. However, even a few months before the new middle school TWI program would be rolled out, teachers disagreed about the very nature of “immersion” education and argued about what an appropriate curriculum would look like.
Interconnectedness of Issues and Analyses: A Program Comprised of Interacting Activity Systems To understand the implications of this study for language policy, one must see the elementary TWI program, the middle school Program Review, and the high school World Language program as representing three separate, but interrelated, activity systems that form the whole of the language learning and use experience of Midville’s SI students over the course of their K-12 education. While many issues may have caused the crisis that led to the suspension of the middle school SI program in 2008-9, one of them, the significant differences in language ideologies between the TWI Community and the World Language Community, was never identified during the period of Program Review.
By bringing these activity systems alongside each other as this study does, we can see the unresolved areas of conflict and how the two models of language learning and use on either end of the educational trajectory of SI students have an impact on the middle school SI experience, and contribute to student dissatisfaction and teacher frustration.
Differences in Language Ideologies in Elementary TWI and Secondary World Language Communities The language ideologies of Mr. Foster, Principal of Midville Elementary, and Ms.
Gomez, 5th grade SI teacher emphasized life-long language learning and use, and the importance of biliteracy to the development of the bilingual individual. Both individuals envisioned language learning that escaped the classroom and language uses connected to serving students’ families and larger communities, and empowering students to learn new language and to attain high levels of academic achievement. Mr. Foster emphasized the pleasure students experience in learning language and envisioned language learning as a journey. Ms. Gomez pictured students using their Spanish for social change, to serve others in their community. In contrast, they viewed the language ideologies of the World Language Community as devaluing former SI students’ past experience of language learning and use (Mr. Foster) and as focusing on “getting language into students” rather than on using language as the medium of content instruction (Ms. Gomez).
The language ideologies expressed by Mr. Mann, the Spanish Language AP teacher, were complex and conflicting. He at once affirmed that former SI students brought significant language learning and use experiences with them to his class, but persistently returned to expressions of deficit views of the quality of their language use and learning, calling into question not only their learning, but the teaching that had produced it. Though he did not know who all the former SI students in his classes were, he described SI students, generally, as “not fit[ting]” into the Spanish Language program at the high school because of those experiences. He focused most of his deficit attention around two issues: their learning the subjunctive tense and their inability to use accent marks, an orthographic issue. In doing so, he also associated the SI students he knew with heritage language students, both in their fluency and in the sorts of orthographic and grammatical errors they made in their work.
Though he affirmed the importance of biliteracy in the development of bilingualism, just as Mr. Foster and Ms. Gomez did, and though some of his own language learning experiences might have informed his thinking about the situation of former SI students who had high expectations for their language learning experiences, he seemed to be unable to escape his deficit view of former SI student, connected to what he saw as a lack of control over certain features of Spanish. This view seemed to indicate an alignment with centripetal language forces (Bakhtin, 1981) and stood in contrast to the views of SI language learning and use expressed by Mr. Foster and Ms. Gomez.
During the post-AP focus group, students expressed appreciation for their high school Spanish teachers, in particular for Mr. Mann, at the same time that they expressed dissatisfaction with some aspects of their language learning and use after leaving their SI elementary program. They deplored the learning they had had to do from grammar textbooks, struggled to meet the expectations of teachers, especially when they were asked to reproduce specific language forms they knew could be expressed in multiple ways. Some of them had absorbed the language ideologies of their teachers, saying that they thing they most wanted to do with their language was to use accents better. They showed appreciation for the few activities in which they could express themselves freely, and wished for language experiences that would allow them to use their language for more than school-related purposes. One student said she would just like to have a class that allowed them to read books, and talk about them or about other topics of interest.
Even though the former SI students expressed disappointment with their language learning and use in secondary school, they all passed the Spanish Language AP exam that year, as have nearly all the other former SI students who have taken it since 2006.
Differences in Language and Literacy Practices in SI and Spanish Language AP Classes Ms. Gomez’s classroom language and literacy practices emphasized high levels of student autonomy based on guided socialization into literacy practices shared by the whole class. Students read many full-length Spanish language books of their own choosing, and, following the Leer es Pensar rubric provided to them, wrote about them regularly in dialogic journals, Libretas de lectura. During the period I participated in the classroom, students demonstrated their knowledge of and ability to participate in these practices, as well as high levels of motivation and personal engagement with their reading. The built environment of Ms. Gomez’s classroom allowed students to work independently and in small groups to accomplish the work they engaged in, easily accommodating the atmosphere of student autonomy.
The literacy practices Ms. Gomez’s students engaged in were characterized by what Howard and Sugarman (2007) call a “culture of intellectualism,” in which students develop a sense of “commitment to ongoing learning,” to “collaboration and the exchange of ideas,” to the “fostering of independence,” and to the “promotion of higher order thinking” (pp. 82-83). In particular, students’ use of the Leer es Pensar rubric and of the 4-3-2-1 activity sheet in preparation for Club de libros meetings encouraged active reading and critical, personally-engaged thinking about texts and the content they represented. Ms. Gomez also introduced books that emphasized social issues relevant to the students’ lives, such as La gran Gilly Hopkins, and made connections to school-wide social issues, like bullying. She also practiced her commitment to teaching her students to “use their bilingualism for good,” by asking them to write argumentative essays about social issues and problems they identified at their school.
The culture of student autonomy and intellectualism in the SI 5th grade class stood in contrast to the character of language learning and use I observed in a Spanish Language 4AP class. Mr. Mann’s classroom practices emphasized his centrality in the classroom as the source of both correct language input and student motivation. His extremely small classroom, affording only limited student-to-student work, contributed to his centralized practices. But his role as the source of vocabulary and cultural information for students also reinforced this centrality. Finally, his use of dólares, rewards for class participation, also reinforced his central role in the class. During the period I observed, very little (if any) literacy activity took place that involved more than decoding and comprehending text. Correctness took precedence over critical thinking in the Spanish Language AP class.
Importance of Domains of Language Learning and Use in SI and World Language Classes Language learning and use in Ms. Gomez’s class were characterized by their connection to a wide range of language domains, made even wider by their participation in the 5th grade culminating experience at El Molino, in Michoacán, Mexico. In addition to the use of Spanish in a wide range of academic domains such as sciences, social studies, math, and humanities (culture, language arts, grammar, music, art), they were encouraged to read a wider range of genres of books than they had in their previous elementary experience, and had the opportunity to write short stories that touched on a variety of language domains.
In addition, Ms. Gomez engaged her students in social domains related to problems on their campus through their writing. Their experience in El Molino added to those social domains, as they guided pre-schoolers in art and drama activities; traveled through town to their talleres; made purchases in various shops; met, learned and played with a group of peers from a school in Cuernavaca; and learned to talk with a variety of adults who led their talleres. The talleres themselves added even more language domains to their experience, and led them into complex practices of mixing domains related to the activities they engaged in with social domains necessary to carry on conversations with interested adults.
During the period of the study, Ms. Gomez began to develop an awareness of her students’ need to learn Spanish connected to specific domains, such as playing soccer.
She realized that some students did not have Spanish terms related to computers, language they would need for middle school. She taught grammatical and orthographic features she knew they would be expected to know in middle school. And she developed a lesson on Spanish interjections they might need to use in their fiction writing. She, herself, practiced the same “culture of intellectualism” she expected of her students.
During my observations in the Spanish Language AP class, Mr. Mann’s class read and wrote within a broad range of domains of language use, and they were challenged to interact with such a broad range as they completed the 2009 Spanish Language AP exam that May. However, the material from those domains was approached as decontextualized or autonomous (Street, 1984) rather than contextualized within their content domains. The AP exam itself confronted students with material from language domains they had never encountered before, including linguistics. Mr. Mann, and the other AP teachers with whom he participated in AP training, recognized the problem of students’ never having been exposed to some of the domains students would encounter in the exam. However, apart from hoping that the College Board would provide AP teachers with a limited list of possible topics for writing and speaking on the exam, and trying to expose his students to a wide range of domains in preparation for the exam, Mr.