Recent Arrivals: Adolescent English Language Learners Navigating Academic Literacy in the First Year of High School
Jie Park

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Clark University

Primary Discipline

Literacy and/or English/Language Education
Recent-arrival adolescents typically enter the U.S. at the middle or secondary level of schooling with a range of abilities in their home languages, but often find the academic literacies expected in U.S. schools to be a difficult part of their transition. They are expected to master disciplinary knowledge and concepts, while learning English as an additional language. Building on the academic literacies model, the proposed project will employ a qualitative multicase methodology to investigate how and under what circumstances a cohort of recent-arrival English language learners (ELLs) acquire academic literacies in their first year of high school. Multiple data sources, including classroom observations, audio-recordings of classroom interactions, student and teacher interviews, and artifacts and documents will be analyzed using concepts and techniques from sociocultural literacy research. The project will produce case studies that highlight recent-arrival adolescents’ literacy participation and development by (1) text or task ; (2) disciplinary domain ; (3) time (i.e., shifting participation and development over time); and (4) type and availability of classroom supports. The cases will also reveal differences and similarities in the academic trajectories of recent-arrival ELLs, and the possible pathways they take in developing school-based literacies.While existing scholarship on adolescent academic literacies acknowledges the social and cultural contexts of literacy in school settings, it has not been theorized in a manner that fully considers the backgrounds, resources, and particular needs of adolescent language learners. Findings from this research can help generate evidence-based model(s) of academic literacy development that take into consideration not only the assets of recent-arrival adolescent ELLs, but also the social and discursive contexts of classrooms. In addition, the project is intended to generate a body of useable knowledge for practitioners, specifically effective pedagogy and appropriate assessment practices for recent-arrival ELLs. Lastly, this project has implications for researchers who wish to design longitudinal inquiries into the academic literacy development of secondary ELLs.
About Jie Park
Jie Park is an assistant professor of education at Clark University. She holds a B.A. and M.A. from Stanford, and a Ph.D. (2010) in Education (Reading, Writing, and Literacy) from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on youth literacy and language practices in school and out-of-school settings. She has conducted longitudinal studies in Philadelphia and Bronx, NY where she investigated how first-generation immigrant students acquire academic discourses, and what cultural and linguistic resources they bring to their schooling. Currently, she is involved in a variety of research projects around teacher and youth-research, multicultural and multilingual curricula in high school classrooms, and the intersection of youth literacy, language, and identities. Her most recent work has been published in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, English Education, Journal of Language and Literacy Education, and the International Journal of Multicultural Education.

Pin It on Pinterest