Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Committee Member

Steven G. McCafferty

Second Committee Member

John E. Readence

Number of Pages



This study was concerned with (a) how second language children actually learn as a result of their social interactions; (b) the learning trajectory of second language students from apprentice to full participation in communities of practice; and (c) how this learning influences, and is reciprocally influenced by, the social, cultural, and historical context as learners become members of community practice. These questions were investigated under the lens of sociocultural theory, which emphasizes leaning in relationship with others and with materials over time within the social context; This was a qualitative study involving genetic methodology (Vygostky, 1981) which aims to understand, rather than describe, mental processes through the disclosure of their emergence and subsequent growth. Participants in this study were second language students included in two mainstream classroom of a year-round school in an urban district in the Southwest. Methods of data collection included the videotaping of children in authentic (non-contrived) interactions; interviews with participating students, teachers, and parents of participating students; field notes of classroom observations; and anecdotal records of participating students. Genetic analysis of these data afforded the possibility of focusing on the social context in which learning takes place; The results of this study point to a departure from conceptualizations of second language learning as a skill, and instead views L2 learning as a process of reconceptualization of the self. It was also learned in this study that cultural, social, historical, and institutional elements of the learning context both contribute and restrict L2 legitimate participation in communities of practice. These elements are contributing when students are free to utilize their sociocultural and historical repertoire as mediational tools to make sense of the educational environment (e.g., through the use of hybrid language practices, home discourse patterns, practices that allow for self-expression, and authentic forms of assessment). They are restrictive when institutional aspects are privileged within the classroom context (e.g., by the emphasis on procedural elements, use of official discourse, hegemony of English, monological practices, and legitimizing forms of assessment). It was also suggested in this study that sociocultural, historical, and institutional aspects of the classroom contexts might have been largely ignored by traditional research, and thus this fact has become reflected in praxis.


Breaking; Ground; Language; Language Learning; Learning; Literary; Practices; Second; Second Language; Sociocultural

Controlled Subject

Curriculum planning; Education, Elementary; Education, bilingual; Language arts

File Format


File Size

3225.6 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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