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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26348

Title: Creating Space for Students' Mother Tongues in College Classrooms: A Collaborative Investigation of Process and Outcomes
Authors: Bismilla, Vicki Hemwathi
Advisor: Cummins, James
Department: Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
Keywords: Second Language Education
Mother Tongue
Issue Date: 23-Feb-2011
Abstract: This study is a qualitative action research that I have undertaken with four teachers in the college where I work, for the purpose of improving curriculum delivery and student services to our majority multilingual student body. Based on my research in a public school board with Grades 4 to 12 students where I learned that mother tongues (L1s) are valued by students as scaffolds to their learning of English (L2) I proceeded to explore L1/L2 curriculum delivery with adult community college students whose prior learning is encoded in their mother tongues. I explored the possibility of legitimizing the use of students’ mother tongues in college classrooms as scaffolds to their acquisition of their L2. There were three phases to this study. Through these three phases of the study I sought to understand the impact of this multilingual pedagogical approach on the students’ learning experience, academic engagement and identity formation. In phase 1, I worked with 90 English as a Second Language (ESL) students whom I surveyed to determine their levels of understanding of our English-only curriculum delivery and student services. In phase 2, I worked with three English for Academic Purposes (EAP) students and interviewed them to explore their reaction to their teacher’s allowing them to use their mother tongues in class as part of pedagogy. In phase 3, I worked with 19 EAP students and interviewed them in focus groups to explore more deeply their learning experience, academic engagement and identity formation in two college classrooms where their mother tongues were part of everyday pedagogy. On the basis of the findings of this study I argue that the creation of space for students’ mother tongues in college classrooms is an ethical imperative since their mother tongues are integral components of their identities and all of their prior learning and life experiences are encoded in their mother tongues. Overall the findings highlighted bilingual students’ perceptions that their L1s constituted an important scaffold for their learning of English. Students’ comments also expressed their sense of the centrality of L1s to aspects of their identity.  
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26348
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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