Language Ideologies and Identities of Emergent Bilinguals in a Dual Language and a Transitional Bilingual Education Context: A Comparative Study

Lidia Herrera-Rocha, University of Texas at El Paso


The purpose of this comparative study is to gain insight into the language ideologies and identities of emergent bilinguals as constructed in a dual language (DL) program and a transitional bilingual program (TBE) in a U.S.–Mexico border city. This study documented the ways teachers and school leaders appropriated, negotiated, and resisted macro-level policies in their everyday interactions and the impact this had on students’ views about themselves and about language. This study intends to add to existing literature on emergent bilinguals and bilingual education by centering the voices of the students and using the theoretical lenses of (1) language ideologies and (2) identities as multiple and in a constant becoming. The analysis of multiple data sources including administrator and teacher interviews, student focus groups, artifacts (identity maps and policy documents), and observations revealed the ways in which the type of bilingual education students received impacted the construction of their identities and their beliefs about language. Administrators and teachers reflected the ideologies of the bilingual program they implemented and enacted some of these ideologies. Some students in TBE appropriated discourses of transition and were aware that being “bilingual” meant they were not proficient in the mainstream language and were still not “smart enough” to be in the “regular” classrooms. Students in the DL program appropriated discourses of empowerment towards their bilingual identity and towards Spanish. They also resisted ideologies of language purism that circulated in the DL program by engaging in translanguaging practices and providing explanations for the ways translanguaging helped them learn, “improvisar,” and make meaning. Interestingly, most students in both programs identified as “Mexican American” because they connected to both countries in different ways. I propose that their diasporic belonging is composed as a multiplicity of entities that are in constant flux, rather than the two static binaries they perceived as their “American identity” and “Mexican identity.” The findings of this study inform the field of bilingual education by providing the perspective of EB students in a unique way.

Subject Area

Bilingual education

Recommended Citation

Herrera-Rocha, Lidia, "Language Ideologies and Identities of Emergent Bilinguals in a Dual Language and a Transitional Bilingual Education Context: A Comparative Study" (2019). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI13882732.