Language and the Gentrifying City: Circulating discourses about languages, speakers, learning and public schooling in a Two Way Immersion program
Sofia Chaparro

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Pennsylvania

Primary Discipline

Language and the Gentrifying City: Circulating discourses about languages, speakers, learning and public schooling in a Two Way Immersion program Two-way immersion programs, which bring together language majority and language minority children with the goals of bilingualism and biliteracy for all, are becoming increasingly popular in the US (Collier & Thomas, 2004). The research literature points to the many benefits of this model, including higher academic achievement in both English and the target language for all students (Lindholm-Leary, 2012; Thomas & Collier, 2002); yet a growing number of studies have highlighted the problematic tensions that arise around issues of equity, power, and the role and status of Spanish (Cervantes-Soon, 2014; Fitts, 2006; McCollum, 1999; Palmer, 2009; Scanlan & Palmer, 2009; Valdés, 1997). Within these critical studies, the processes that create fertile grounds for these programs to exist in the first place often go unexamined. Thus, through this study I aim to examine the social, demographic, economic, and ideological processes that facilitated the creation of a two-way immersion program in a public school within a gentrifying community. My goal is to investigate how the socio-political processes of gentrification and immigration, including the ideological discourses that go along with them, come to bear on the creation and development of a two-way program, and how these discourses in turn circulate and influence the everyday discursive practices in the classroom. Through ethnographic and discourse analytic methods, I will follow six focal children and their families and document their experiences in the program. Utilizing a linguistic anthropological frame, I will examine the circulating discourses regarding bilingualism, language and speakers; the motivation for different families for choosing this program; the linguistic and educational aspirations of families as well as their migratory trajectories; and finally, how these discourses are apparent in the day-to-day classroom life.
About Sofia Chaparro
Sofía Chaparro Rodarte is a doctoral candidate in the Educational Linguistics division of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving her BA from Stanford University in Psychology, Sofia decided to go into teaching, obtaining first an M.Ed from Boston College in Elementary Education and teaching for five years in dual-language bilingual elementary schools in Boston, MA and El Paso, TX – her hometown. Her dissertation research focuses on the ways in which two-way immersion programs emerge out of larger social, demographic, and ideological processes – such as immigration and gentrification – that come together in the same social space to produce both a desire and the necessary conditions for these programs to exist in the first place. Sofia is passionate about issues of language diversity and inequality, and the education of minoritized and racialized children in the US and internationally.

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