This case study, drawing upon the ecological perspectives (Kramsch, 2002; van Lier, 2004) as a theoretical framework, described the learning experiences of two second generation and first grade Vietnamese English Language Learners navigating between home and school to develop oral and written L1 Vietnamese and L2 English competence for one school year. In the second school year, the focal students' oral and written language samples were collected without classroom observations or interviews. Focal student one had the advantage of learning language in three settings--home, public school, and Vietnamese Sunday School--while focal student two had access to the first two only. A variety of qualitative tools were developed to capture the language affordance, interaction and emergence of ELL learners: (a) observation fieldnotes (b) parent and teacher interviews, and (c) L1 and L2 oral and written reading survey and assessment. Metalinguistic awareness, through language play, language rehearsal and repeated reading emerged as an important mediator of language competence and as an interpretative framework to drive the analytic induction process (Erickson, 1986; Bogdan & Biklen, 2003) that I employed. Data interpretation focused on the L1 Vietnamese and L2 English oral and written modes.
The study findings suggest that when teachers, parents and students collaborate to generate and activate the L1 and L2 language affordances (van Lier, 2000) of Vietnamese ELLs through reflexive form of interaction, language learning and competence will emerge. Awareness of language form and function assisted focal students in developing L1 and L2 oral and written competence. Overall, reading assessment results indicate moderate-high growth by the end of the school year for focal student one. She mastered the early reading abilities, such as letter names and sounds, high frequency word and decodable words in L1 Vietnamese and L2 English. Listening and reading comprehension improved more for L2, compared to L1. Focal student two, who had access to only 2 sites (home and public school), showed low-moderate growth in listening and reading comprehension skills in L2 English. Her L2 early reading skills were high, compared to no improvement in L1. There was no growth in L1 listening and reading comprehension through oral retell and writing tasks. Because observations began at the start of first grade, after one year of L2 English exposure in kindergarten, both focal students used more L2 oral language to communicate with family members, peers and teachers. Focal student one
increased her codeswitching as her fluency improved in both L1 Vietnamese and L2 English at age six. Additional participation in Vietnamese Sunday School was beneficial for focal student one as evidenced by her overall improvement in L1 Vietnamese and L2 English oral and written language competence.