«A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education in the Graduate Division of ...»
Mann did not consider ways of addressing domains of language use. The decontextualized or autonomous view of language use and literacy pointed to the reliance on encapsulated forms of school literacy (Engestrom, 1991) in the Spanish Language AP program. Further, literacy practices involved almost no reading of books, instead focusing on shorter genres such as short stories, poems, and articles they used to practice literacy skills for the AP exam, and to prepare for the Spanish Literature class some students would take the following year. Former SI students commented on both the lack of book-length reading, as they had become so accustomed to it in their elementary program, and on the frequent reliance on learning from textbooks, as well as other forms of encapsulated forms of school language learning and use.
While Potowski (2002) developed a clear picture of the diglossic nature of language use in a 5th grade TWI classroom, I hope this study has added another layer of understanding to the complexity of language use in TWI programs by arguing that language learning and use is connected to different and specific domains, both academic and social, and that students increase the use of their minority language as they learn about its use in specific domains. As Gee (2003) argues, when people read, think and learn, they always do so about something, in some way that is connected with specific semiotic domains of activity. As Street points out, language learning and its relation to domains of language use is ideological work, and the choices we make to teach language use in some domains, but not others, reflect ideological choices. Through those choices we convey values about “what a language is good for” (Garrett, 2005), or, in contrast, what a specific language is not good for.
Spanish Immersion Middle School Program Review and the Failure of Expansive Learning During the period of the SI Middle School Program review, my aim had been to understand whether real reform would take place, and by using activity theory as an analytical lens, I came to understand that the expansive learning necessary to resolve the historical crisis of the SI program failed.
Through my analysis, I identified several sources that contributed to the failure of expansive learning: in the persistent alignment of individual members of the Program Review with particular communities and their ideologies; in the use of a metaphor whose entailments would not lead to an equitable view of the elementary SI program; in the production of a faulty policy statement which relied on the mixing of language associated with the ideologies of TWI education and of World Language education; in the lack of clarity in the ideologies of language learning and use of administrators charged with enactment of elements of the new program; and finally, in the space between de jure policy formation and the de facto policy formation represented by curriculum development and enactment.
The structure of the Program Review, from the beginning, emphasized the role that various communities played in the process. Representatives from communities of parents, TWI elementary education, secondary World Language education, and three school sites came to the process with differing concerns, goals and ideologies of language learning and use. Because the Program Review group was not given the opportunity to 1) discuss the historical nature of the crisis they were addressing, nor 2) allowed to think about wide-ranging structural changes that could benefit the SI program, expansive learning was unlikely to occur from the very beginning of the process. Further, during the Program Review process, members of various communities held tight to their language ideologies, and did not examine the conflicts caused by these differences. The differences in ideologies were apparent in the three district and site administrators I interviewed, Ms. Fisher, representing Elementary TWI education, Mr. Bell, representing Secondary World Language education, and Mr. Worth, representing the middle school site. Ms. Fisher’s equivocation about the nature of TWI education at the middle school level, Mr. Bell’s emphasis on a perfectionistic view of language learning, and Mr.
Worth’s focus on school-level structural issues all contributed to the lack of resolution of the ideological issues that contributed to the middle school crisis.
As the Program Review group conducted their work, they developed and came to rely on a metaphor to try to unite the communities: the middle school SI program as a bridge. While the use of this structural metaphor might have led them to a view of the middle school program as a means of bringing together both ends of the trajectory of language learning and use of SI students, as it was combined with the unidirectional force of movement from elementary to secondary school, it only reinforced the power of the Secondary World Language program over the Elementary TWI program. One of the practical effects of this metaphor came in the policy statement the group drew up. It stipulated that Elementary TWI teachers should receive professional development related to language learning and use, but did not mention any such training for Secondary World Language teachers. Teacher learning and development would be unidirectional toward the Secondary World Language program, even though the Secondary World Language teachers would have benefited from movement toward the SI program through learning about what characterizes TWI education.
This lack of movement from Secondary World Language educators to understand the character of TWI education in general, and this SI program in particular, was most obvious during the spring 2009 curriculum meeting in which Ms. Gomez presented a curriculum plan for the 6th grade SI class to Mr. Sanchez and Ms. Morelli, Midville Middle School SI and Spanish Language teachers. Ms. Gomez presented the curriculum, calling upon the institution authority of Ms. Fisher to help bolster her presentation.
Because the two middle school teachers continued to focus on problems related to both the lack of fit of the SI middle school program in the larger school structures, and of the SI students themselves, whom Mr. Sanchez, in particular, perceived in deficit terms, they struggled to understand and accept the curriculum Ms. Gomez presented. Even in the end of this study, Ms. Gomez and Mr. Sanchez could not agree on the meaning of “immersion,” and the tentative agreement about the specifics of the future curriculum provided only a tenuous hope that the middle school SI program would move beyond the crisis it had experienced in the previous years.
Implications and Future Directions for Research and Practice
Inasmuch as the number of TWI programs continues to grow at a steady pace across the U.S. (Center for Applied Linguistics), we can anticipate the need for ongoing research, both qualitative and quantitative, in that context. Of course, new research will be needed to continue to track student achievement during and after a student’s participation in TWI programs. But other research will need to focus on areas not yet considered, and that fall outside the focus of this study.
For instance, more research is needed on the trajectory of TWI students who will or do exit secondary school and enter college, posing questions about both the effects of TWI programs on college achievement (Lindholm-Leary & Borsato, 2002) and on longterm language learning and use. Recently, college compositionists have been theorizing new ways of thinking about multilingualism at the college level. (Horner et al., 2011) argue for more complex ways of treating the actual multilingual language uses represented by individual college students, describing the heterogeneity of language use as “translingualism” (Kellman, 2003), and for developing more complex ways of understanding how students use their multiple languages in the college setting. New research might consider how former TWI students act as translinguals in college. In addition, research is needed to understand the continued pursuit of language learning and use of former TWI students during college and beyond.
Since most TWI programs exist in predominantly monolingual English school district and local community environments28, we need more research on the problems TWI programs and their students experience as those students move from elementary programs to secondary school. More research that focuses on the best practices in programs that span elementary through high school would be useful, as would considerations of secondary school structures that might be transferred across districts.
Further, in those complex program settings, more research is needed to understand the ideologies of language learning and use held by program stakeholders, including parents, who form an important part of most TWI programs (Lindholm-Leary, 2001), and students themselves as they take an increasingly important role in their own language learning and use and begin to make choices about their own learning in secondary school and beyond.
Since these ideologies of language learning and use have an impact not only on English dominant students, but, in particular, on language minority students (Valdés, 1997), continued attention needs to be paid to the impact ideologies in TWI programs have on minority language students. Specific attention needs to be focused on the role that language ideologies and attitudes play in program and curricular development and evaluation of student academic and linguistic competency.
In addition, further research in TWI settings calls for the use of more interdisciplinary approaches to studying language teaching and learning, calling for, as (Valdés, 2004) argues, researchers from different disciplines, applied linguistics, English studies, ESL, different educational settings, elementary, secondary and college, to come together and bring their varying points of view and methodological approaches to bear on studying the complex language policy environment in which language learning and use takes place. This study points directly to the need for elementary TWI teachers and secondary World Language teachers to engage in self-study of the relationship between TWI and World Language education, to understand both their differing language ideologies and the conditions of their work in each setting. Since many TWI teachers experience a sense of isolation within their districts or schools, there is a need for more researcher/teacher collaborative research that crosses elementary and secondary sites, TWI programs in different schools and communities and even internationally, following methodologies like those of (Freedman, 1994, 1999).
Finally, this study has posited the use of Cultural Historical Activity Theory as a tool for study design and analysis, but has only used CHAT in a limited way to understand the nature of TWI Program Review and reform. Using CHAT, further work is needed focusing on 1) student/teacher roles (Division of Labor) in language use in TWI classes; 2) specific language learning Tools (how language is used as language learning tool; how technology might be used effectively; how built space affects language learning A quick survey of Northern California TWI programs would reveal that many districts house only one school within a district or one program within a school devoted to TWI education.
and use); 3) assessment and how well it matches up with the Object of the activity system; and, 4) language ideologies of other Communities including English-dominant families, minority-language dominant families, and students themselves. In this study, I have taken the role of a participant observer, but CHAT could be used in TWI programs to conduct teacher action or interventionist research as TWI programs examine themselves for ways to improve and resolve internal conflicts (Engestrom, 2001).
As I outlined in Chapter 1, the field of language policy studies continues to develop new ways of understanding how de jure and de facto language policies interact, and what stands between individual and group language ideologies and specific language practices. Shohamy (2006) argues “the real [language policy] of a political and social entity should be observed not merely through declared policy statements but rather through a variety of devices that are used to perpetuate language practices, often in covert and implicit ways.” She goes on to say that these devices are what exert a strong influence on de facto language policy, and that “it is only through the observations of the effects of these very devices that the real language policy of an entity can be understood and interpreted” (p. 46). These devices, or “mechanisms,” stand as tools of control between language ideologies and practices. I proposed in this study to use CHAT as a means of examining some activity systems as possible language policy mechanisms in the educational context. While Shohamy identifies language education itself (and testing, specifically) as a mechanism of de facto language policy, I identified other types of mechanisms at work in the Midville TWI program and its surrounding language policy environment. The findings from my study point to several language policy mechanisms at work in Midville’s TWI and World Language programs.
Specific literacy activities serve as language policy mechanisms in both the TWI and World Language context as they stand between language ideologies and language practices. Literacy activities, as Tools, mediate language learning in both contexts, so while some might point to them as a language practices, if the Object of any language learning activity system is truly language learning and use, the nature of the literacy activity will change the nature of the language learning and use that take place. Students will learn language differently by reading a discrete series of short, decontextualized passages than they will from a connected series of longer, more contextualized texts. As I have tried to demonstrate, different types of literacy activities, and the presentation of those activities as highly contextualized or decontextualized, will make a difference in how students orient themselves to the language they are learning, which will affect how they will learn it. Curriculum might be considered an extension of the mechanism of literacy activities, as well.