The Educational Struggles of Three Emergent Bilinguals: A Critical Ethnography
Saldana, Venancio V.
This study was a critical ethnography of the educational struggles of emergent bilinguals. Emergent bilingual newcomers who immigrate to the United States and enroll in U.S. schools at the secondary level struggle to meet the necessary requirements to graduate from high school. The focus was on finding what structures, policies, and practices affect emergent bilinguals’ completion of the necessary requirements to graduate. More specifically, the following research questions guided the study: What structures, policies, and practices hinder the completion of school graduation for emergent bilinguals? How do pedagogical practices limit the attainment of graduation requirements for emergent bilingual students? Where and what are the points of promise and opportunities for emergent bilingual students to complete their high school education? The personal stories and experiences of the researcher were embedded in the study to introduce the topic, inform the analysis, and make meaning of the findings and recommendations. The study involved an analysis of the current literature on policy, practice, and theory and the authentic information shared by each research participant about their schooling and life experiences. Pláticas and life maps were used as methodologies to collect the data and a qualitative inductive research approach was used to analyze the data from the stories shared by each participant. The analysis revealed how the implementation of policies and practices proved to be detrimental to the lives and schooling experiences of the three emergent bilinguals. More specifically, the main themes, or pillars revolving around (a) crossing the borders, (b) reception into a new country, (c) the welcome into a new learning environment and community, and (d) post migration, identified the main causes of why each emergent bilingual struggled to complete the requirements to graduate. In addition, the lack of support systems and awareness of the assets that each emergent bilingual possessed caused social, emotional, and academic distress. Results can be used to contribute to improvements in the implementation and interpretation of bilingual education program policies and practices that inform the way we meet the needs of emergent bilinguals who navigate through the realities of two distinct worlds and the challenges they face as they seek a better future. The implications and recommendations of this work will raise the level of agency required to support emergent bilinguals who are born in the United States and emergent bilingual newcomers who immigrate to the United States in search of a better life and an opportunity to continue and further their education.
emergent bilingual, crossing-border, reception policy, post migration, policy, praxis
Saldaña, V. V. (2023). The educational struggles of three emergent bilinguals: A critical ethnography (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.