Home / Language / Loss: An Ethnography of Home Language Policy in Los Angeles High Schools for Recently Arrived Immigrant Students
Kyle Halle-Erby

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of California, Los Angeles

Primary Discipline

Second Language Learning/Bilingual Education
The Los Angeles Unified School District has undertaken an experiment in the education of recently-arrived immigrant students learning English. Over the 2021-2023 school years, the district opened three new high school Academies explicitly tasked with centering students? home languages to support their success in school. The students and educators in these Academies are predominately Latinx and 25% of students reported a Mayan language as their home language. Recognizing that Indigenous languages and the home languages of people from racialized communities represent knowledge- and value-systems historically excluded from and suppressed by schools, this dissertation asks what language policy in newcomer schools teaches about the futures we build with and for marginalized young people. Based on two years of ethnographic research across the three new Academies, this study examines the official and practiced policies governing students home languages and the possibilities for college, career, and community participation those policies facilitate or constrain. By analyzing classroom observations, student work, more than 75 interviews with students, educators, and district leaders; and participant- observation in a youth-organizing group, this study argues that embracing newcomer?s home languages is not a best practice to be applied to otherwise unchanged educational programs. Given, the Department of Education?s requested 35% funding increase for its English Language Acquisition program, bringing the total budget over $1 billion, to support English learners through ?a greater emphasis on multilingualism that embraces students? native and home languages,? this study offers practice-based policy lessons about what it means to ?embrace? newcomer?s home languages.
About Kyle Halle-Erby
Kyle Halle-Erby is a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Los Angeles in the School of Education and Information Studies. He is interested in schools as contested sites where people work together to build irresistible futures and where public and private blocs form to produce the status quo. His dissertation is an ethnographic study of the official and practiced policy governing students? home languages in new high schools exclusively serving recently arrived immigrant young people in Los Angeles. His research engages raciolinguistic ideologies, Indigenous studies, and the Black Radical Tradition to qualitatively study the relationships among race, colonization, and immigration in educational language policy. His writing has been published in The International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, The Routledge Handbook of Language Policy and Planning, and Weaving an Otherwise: In-Relations Methodological Practice. Kyle has an M.A. in Education from Stanford University and a B.A. in American Studies from Tufts University. Before graduate school, Kyle was a high school teacher in San Francisco.

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