Building and Destroying Students' 'Academic Identities': The Power of Discourse in A Two-Way Immersion Classroom

Nov. 20, 2008

Source: International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Volume 21, Issue 6 November 2008 , p. 647 - 667

Two-way immersion is a model for bilingual education designed to help language-minority students develop additive bilingualism while at the same time offering language-majority students a chance to learn a second language. There is a great deal of rhetoric around two-way immersion that claims these programs aim to improve overall equity among diverse groups of learners. The article begins with a brief review of the available research on two-way immersion education. Then, using Bakhtin's concept of dialogue and Bourdieu's and Gee's ideas of discourse/Discourse, this article takes a close-up look at the discourse patterns in one second-grade two-way immersion classroom in Northern California, with an eye to uncovering how the teacher deliberately attempts to expose students to 'alternative' discourses and to lead language-minority students to construct positive identities as learners. The ultimate question the article attempts to address is whether and to what extent any classroom program can create lasting change in the larger society through exposing students to 'alternatives' to mainstream dominant discourses within the context of classroom norms and activities.

Updated: Dec. 31, 2008