Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Elementary, Middle & Secondary Teacher Education

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction, PhD

Committee Chair

Chisholm, James

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Foster, Michelle

Committee Member

Alagaraja, Meera

Committee Member

Gast, Melanie

Author's Keywords

Language ideologies; multilingual learners; racialization; linguistic discrimination


Community colleges have become key sites for preparing diverse and immigrant students for the transition to the workforce and four-year institutions. Yet, despite the recent growths of Multilingual Learners in community colleges, few studies focus on how students experience the first year in college after completing their ESL programs and their relations with instructors and how instructors perceive and interact with students institutionally classified as English as a Second Language (ESL) students. I use theories of language ideologies and racialization of language to understand multilingual learners’ experiences in the first year of college and how interaction with instructors shaped those experiences. I use a qualitative critical approach to analyze data from interviews, fieldnotes, and observations from a year-long study in a community college located in a mid-sized city in the South. This dissertation is divided into six chapters. Chapter one gives an overview of the background of the study and the process of realization of this project throughout a story I tell about my understandings of language and experiences with language learning during my career as an English language teacher and now researcher. Chapter two explores the theories of language ideologies, racialization of language and language identity and how they are connected to understand how Multilingual Learners (MLs) in a community college experience education and access to resources. I explore how language ideologies are used to maintain social power, more specifically, the idea of academic language and language proficiency as a gatekeeper for academic achievement in educational institutions for multilingual learners. In chapter three I describe a critical approach to ideology to examine Multilingual Learners’ experiences in college through interviews, observations and fieldnotes. I focus on beliefs about language and language identity that influence multilingual students’ experiences in higher education. In chapter four, I analyze students’ perceptions of their academic English skills connected to their own ideas of accent, use of grammar and an idealized English proficiency instilled by the interactions with White Americans, including college instructors. Those ideologies formed language identities in which students see themselves as deficient in comparison to the White native speaker of English. In chapter five, I show evidence of instructors’ views of students regarding their cultural, linguistic, and educational and class background. Some of those views revealed ideologies of language standardization that racialized multilingual students through lenses of language standardization and assimilation to American culture that I discussed in chapter six.