Building Bridges of Black and Brown Solidarity through Dual Language Education
Claudia Cervantes-Soon

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Arizona State University

Primary Discipline

Second Language Learning/Bilingual Education
This study examines the potential to develop empowered multilingual/bicultural identities and to build meaningful cross-cultural relationships of solidarity between African Americans and Latinx communities through two-way dual language immersion (TWI). TWI, a highly-proclaimed model of bilingual education integrates speakers from two different language groups – typically English speakers and speakers of a partner language like Spanish – to provide dual-language academic instruction and promote high academic achievement, bilingualism, biliteracy, and cross-cultural competencies for all children involved. Through a critical ethnographic, multiple case study design, the study investigates the attitudes, experiences, and cross-cultural relationships emerging across time among four Black and four Latinx families in a largely segregated working-class urban community in Texas whose children participate in TWI. The study will follow these eight families’ journeys as their children enter pre-kindergarten and continue into elementary school.By refocusing the attention on minoritized communities in TWI programs this study addresses concerns documented in recent scholarship about the tendency of many TWI programs to cater to the interests of middle-class White English speakers and consequently marginalizing working-class students of color – the focal students for whom bilingual education was created in the United States. The study also fills a gap in the research investigating the potential role of TWI education in bridging Latinx immigrant and African American communities. Ultimately the project and its resulting scholarship seek to push the field of bilingual education toward a more inclusive social-justice oriented vision and the capturing of opportunities for collective agency between historically marginalized groups. The study has strong implications considering current demographics, the present era of emboldened racism, and in the larger context of pervasive segregation, displacement in gentrified areas, and social movements such as Black Lives Matter and for immigrants’ human rights.
About Claudia Cervantes-Soon
Claudia G. Cervantes-Soon is an Associate Professor at Arizona State University. Her research interests center on critical ethnographic approaches to the study of identities, intersectionalities, and pedagogical practices with a particular focus on the fostering of agency, critical literacy/biliteracy, and empowered identities among children, youth and families from marginalized communities. In particular her research draws on critical pedagogy, Chicana feminist thought, border and transborder epistemologies, and decolonizing methodologies to her analyses of how global and neoliberal trends intersect with local frameworks of inequality in border, transnational, and bilingual education contexts and to revealing how individuals enact their agency in negotiating and resisting such structures. Her most recent research projects have sought to address issues of equity and social justice in two-way dual language/bilingual education, and she is now specifically investigating the potential of cross-cultural/transcultural relationships of solidarity between Latinx and African American children and families in such programs. Dr. Cervantes-Soon has been awarded faculty fellowships by the American Association of University Women and the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education and she has published articles in the Bilingual Research Journal, Equity and Excellence in Education, Harvard Education Review, Race Ethnicity and Education, and Review of Research in Education among others. She is also the author of the new book Juárez Girls Rising: Transformative Education in Times of Dystopia, which received the 2017 C. Wright Mills Award.

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