Engaging our linguistic resources in secondary schools: How minority-language and majority-language students can learn from each other
Melinda Martin-Beltran

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Maryland, College Park

Primary Discipline

Bilingual/Bicultural Education
As the population of students who speak a language other than English continues to grow, U.S. public schools are becoming richer with linguistic and cultural resources that often go untapped. While educational research has recommended mobilizing students’ funds of knowledge in our schools, more research is needed to understand practices that build upon linguistic and cultural resources that language minority students bring to secondary schools. The proposed project will fill this research gap by investigating the ways that English-language learners and Spanish-language learners may mediate each other’s language learning through collaborative activities in a unique program that brings together students who would otherwise be separated in a mainstream high school. Grounded in sociocultural theory, this study uses microgenetic discourse analysis of student interactions audio-recorded during collaborative literacy activities to investigate how students exchange and co-construct language expertise. Transcripts, interviews, field notes, learning logs, and writing samples will be examined throughout the program to analyze language growth among language-minority and language-majority students. The proposed research will advance our theoretical understanding of second language acquisition, reconceptualized as a reciprocal, multidirectional process mediated across languages and learners, which has implications for improving educational opportunities for bilingual students. This research informs policies and practices that pursue greater educational equity for minority-language students and ultimately engage educators in the re-imagination of potential languaculture resources abundant in our schools.
About Melinda Martin-Beltran

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