Autonomous fearless use of language: Understanding non-fiction English text with fifth-grade bilinguals through culturally sustaining pedagogy


December 2023

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At schools in the Unites States, English-centric hegemonic policies often hinder emergent bilingual students from fully applying their linguistic skills to read non-fiction texts. This phenomenon necessitates investigation into how Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy (CSP) can be utilized to support fifth-grade bilingual students’ understanding of non-fiction texts in English. This qualitative descriptive study documents the process of five participants utilizing their entire linguistic repertoire, engaging in translanguaging practices while experiencing CSP instruction to enhance comprehension of non-fiction texts. The research questions guiding this study are: How do emergent fifth-grade bilingual students use language when reading and writing about non-fiction texts in English? How does culturally sustaining instruction relate to the students' use of language while reading and writing about non-fiction texts in English? Five important themes were identified, representing features appearing to support emergent bilingual (EB) students’ understanding of non-fiction texts. These features included translanguaging inquiries during reading discussions, adeptly integrated linguistic translanguaging in written practices, validation of autonomous flexible translanguaging, demonstration of self-identity and belonging, and the promotion of school community and diversity.



Education, Language and Literature