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An Ethnonarrative Inquiry Approach to Understand the Role of Context-Specific Languages in the Socio-Academic Experiences of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse College Students


As the number of language-minoritized students, such as English learners (ELs) grows in the United States (Bergey et al., 2018; N��ez et al., 2016; Kanno & Cromley, 2015), it is necessary to understand their experiences in post-secondary education. When EL students transition into higher education, they lose their labels and language development resources they were receiving in K-12th grade due to federal and state policies that protect them (N��ez et al., 2016). As a result, there is no way to continue tracking EL students in higher education. It is important to continue understanding the experiences of EL students to understand how they compare with non-EL counterparts in college and to determine the supports these students may still need in college. Given that EL students lose their language labels in higher education, this dissertation utilizes an asset-based label, culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD), to refer to students who were EL students in K-12th grade, as these students’ cultures and linguistic. Evidence shows that these students are not afforded opportunities to learn the academic language in their K-12 English development programs that students will need in college (G�ndara & Hopkins, 2010). Academic language is of great importance in higher education to communicate new learning, ideas, and stances with professors and peers, and these language demands placed on CLD college students often go unnoticed. Not only that, the linguistic assets that CLD students bring with them to college like their bilingualism and multilingualism often are erased in the college space (Mazak & Carroll, 2017). The aim of this dissertation was to understand the CLD students’ socio-academic experiences in K-12th grade in relation to context-specific languages and how context-specific languages shape CLD college students’ socio-academic college experiences according to the situations and people that surround them. Using an ethnonarrative inquiry research approach, 15, CLD college students were interviewed using a testimonio interview protocol (Reyes & Curry Rodr�guez, 2012) and completed a 4-week journal reflection activity. The last portion of the study consisted of college classroom observations.

In general, the CLD students described how external language ideologies have shaped their own language ideologies and their self-perceptions about their language skills. The students also describe how family language policies and school language policies have also contributed to shaping their language ideologies and self-perception about their language skills. An important theme that resonated among the CLD students was the use of private speech in their home languages to learn and study their college course materials and other metacognitive skills, including self-awareness of how their home and academic languages impact their social and academic experiences as college students. In line with Yosso’s Community Cultural Wealth framework, the CLD students’ experiences reveal the different forms of capital that have informed their experiences. Although, this dissertation originally was focused on how linguistic capital has impacted these students’ social and academic experiences, the students’ narratives tap into other forms of capital, social, familial, navigational and aspirational. In addition, the CLD students describe their experiences of planning and preparing for college as EL and first-generation college students. The findings from this study have implications on language use and language learning policies in the K-16 pipeline that can better support culturally and linguistically diverse students in college.

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