(In)Equality, Interdependence, and Belonging: Brazilian Immigrant Children's Experiences Across Home and a Dual Language Bilingual Education Program in the United States
Mariana Lima Becker

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Boston College

Primary Discipline

Bilingual/Bicultural Education
Brazilian immigration to the United States has more than tripled since 2018, indicating the need for schools and educational research to develop appropriate responses to serve im/migrant students from lesser known cultural and linguistic backgrounds. This dissertation consists of an ethnographic study conducted over four years (2018-2022) centering the educational experiences and literacy practices of Brazilian im/migrant children in a Portuguese-English Dual Language Bilingual Education (DLBE) program at their elementary school and in their homes in Massachusetts. To that end, this study draws on a framework that combines the concepts of inequality, politicized funds of knowledge, and literacies based on Latinx communities? cultural practices of interdependence. This study has been conducted in two phases. During phase one, I followed a cohort of 50 children, the majority of whom presented a recent Brazilian immigrant background, in their DLBE classrooms for three school years. I focused on how they experienced education as reflected in their classroom participation, attitudes toward schooling, and feelings of belonging or, conversely, alienation in their school and communities. In the second phase, I zero in on a group of Brazilian children and families to examine how they engaged in literacy practices and contributed to an ethos of mutuality in their homes. Findings bear the potential to inform curricula, instruction, and teacher preparation to serve im/migrant students and generate insights to (re)think educational models and programs for minoritized populations in the United States.
About Mariana Lima Becker
Mariana Lima Becker is a Ph.D. candidate in Curriculum & Instruction at the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College. Her research explores the intersection of bilingual education for language-minoritized students, im/migration, and literacy studies. Her dissertation examines the experiences of education and literacy practices of Brazilian immigrant children across their homes and classrooms in a dual language bilingual education program (Portuguese-English) in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. Grounded in a critical childhoods approach, her ethnographic inquiry centers elementary-aged Brazilian immigrant children, foregrounding their transnational experiences, perspectives, and narratives. Mariana has published in the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, Childhood, Global Studies of Childhood, and the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. She has also received research grants from The International Research Foundation for English Language Education and the Center for Human Rights & International Justice at Boston College. Before starting her doctoral studies, Mariana was an English as a Foreign Language teacher at a middle school and in several language institutes in her hometown of Recife, in the Brazilian northeast. She is also a licensed English as a Second Language teacher in Massachusetts. Mariana received a B.A. in Letras from the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE), an M.A. in Linguistics from UFPE, and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Massachusetts ? Boston.

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