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Negotiating an identity to achieve in English: Investigating the linguistic identities of young language learners

  • Author(s): Collett, Jennifer Marie
  • Advisor(s): Baquedano-Lopez, Patricia
  • et al.
Abstract

Qualitative research methods guide data collection and analysis (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007; Dyson & Genishi, 2005; Heath & Street, 2008; Schram 2006) of this 18 month study researching the academic lives of 21 Spanish-English language learners classified as limited English proficient (LEP) in two urban, elementary school communities. In this dissertation, I argue language learners in elementary school begin to construct identities with language through the school community resources they are able to access as they participate in school-based activities. These language identities are related to students' engagement and motivation to participate in school, and also hold a relationship with students' language classification status. By triangulating the data of 21 focal students to include: 1) student interviews, 2) observations of students in academic and non-academic school activities, and 3) students' performance on academic tests, findings reveal how all language learners construct one of three language-learning identities - dual, separation, or distant - where a distant identity is associated with students who remain classified LEP or are reclassified as a long-term English language learner upon exiting elementary school.

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