SCET Journal 2020/2021

Language Matters »

graduation. I spoke to the participants early in the process, and three students agreed to participate, but Emily was sick the week of the interview and was not able to attend. I told them my focus for the interview would be to discuss their experiences as highly suc- cessful young women who also are English Language learners, immigrants, and best friends. They consent- ed and said they were eager to tell their stories and indicated that no one had asked them about how they navigated language differences before, but they wanted to be interviewed together. After obtaining written consent, we sat together for about 90 minutes in my classroom where I recorded the interview using videoconferencing software, and I wrote field notes as we talked. I had prepared 10 questions about their families, their experiences in school, and their expe- riences as an English Language Learners, and I sent them the questions about a week before the interview so they could think about their responses and sto- ries they could share with me. After the interview, I also sent the participants a follow-up email in which I asked them if there was anything they wanted to add to our conversation. I transcribed the interview from the recording, and I coded the transcript through an open-coding process, looking for repeated comments regarding language barriers they may have faced in school, ways they navigated cultural differences at school, and techniques teachers used that they found especially helpful. Using grounded theory (Maxwell, 2013) and discourse analysis (Gee, 2014), I arrived at the findings explained here by grouping responses in the following categories: comments about their parents; comments about teachers and instruction; comments about friends and social experiences. I then labeled these groupings by a single statement that summarizes the common elements of the themes, attempting to phrase from their perspectives, but using their words as evidence to illustrate the state- ment’s veracity. Both participants contributed member checks by reading the first and subsequent drafts for verification of their perspectives. Conceptual Framing I am intrigued by these language concepts: translanguaging as a literacy technique or strategy; neurological processes of multi-language Learners; and the effects of endorsing an imaginary standard version of English in high school ELA classrooms. I

have developed my understanding of these concepts through research from Baker-Bell (2020), Canagara- jah (2013 and 2016), Johnson, et al (2020), Martinez (2017), and Metz (2018). Their research has taught me about encouraging students to incorporate their home language into their academic writing as well as providing students with open-communication op- portunities where they can explore developing their own voice that embraces their linguistic and cultural backgrounds. I have also shifted my practice so that I highlight more diverse voices in the texts we read, crafting lessons that invite students from the dominant culture – southern, White, evangelical, working-class – to consider the perspectives of those seemingly unlike them, to bridge those perceived differences, and to create a more equitable school and community. Seltzer (2019) has taught me to refrain from creating a dichotomy as suggested by the terms “home lan- guage” and “academic language,” and Milner (2017) has helped me to interrogate how our language is in- fused with our beliefs and how students benefit when lessons center aspects of their identities. Meet the Students The two students whose voices drive this study are now first-year college students, and I have given them the names Andi and Roxanne for this paper. The two young women consider themselves close friends and credit their high school’s AVID program with fostering their friendship. Their sophomore English class hap- pened to be an all-girls class with only AVID students, and Andi explains that their friendship was cemented in that class “especially,” and she said, “I feel like it made us become friends, all of us in that class, to be honest,” but specifically Andi, Roxanne, and Emily, who was not present for the interview. “Yeah, it’s not like AVID forced us to be friends,” explained Roxanne, “but we had almost every class together, so it kind of pushed us together, to be closer and form a relationship, but even outside of AVID, um, I wanted to be her friend.” Andi says Roxanne and Emily “were different from everyone in AVID,” and she says she feels like Rox- anne “understood before she even asked me, she knew what, what the hijab [is] called,” and Emily was “really curious” and asked questions, which is “what drew me closer to her and Roxanne.” When I asked Andi what identity markers she




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