The impact of multilingualism on adolescent English learners' identities: constructing a theory of educational needs

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University of Alabama Libraries

The purpose of this study is to investigate events, beliefs, attitudes, and social structures surrounding adolescent identity construction and the impact of multilingualism, and to further understand students' reactions and perceptions of opportunities afforded through public education. Drawing from interdisciplinary perspectives within sociocultural, identity and language learning theories, this study explores the dialogic tension between the individual and the parameters of her society contextualized within the public high school setting. This qualitative multiple case study draws from ethnographic traditions to investigate the impact of multilingualism on adolescent English learner identity construction. To ensure triangulation of the data, a variety of data sources inform the study including visual self-portraits, journal entries, interviews, observations, field notes and analytic memos. Data analysis involved transcriptions and translations, along with descriptive and in vivo coding. Based on analysis of the three participants' use of language during school, salient themes emerged that describe the unique way each participant asserted her varied identities while negotiating societal expectations. A significant finding portrays how these negotiations create an identity in school that corresponds with each participant's ideas of what it means to be educated. Based on these findings, implications for long-term English learners, the importance of promoting first language literacy skills, the need for career planning, and diversity training for secondary educators are discussed.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
English as a second language