Latina teachers' testimonios: Examining lived experiences, language ideologies and biliteracy practices in dual language classrooms


May 2023

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Biliteracy has become one of the goals of dual language (DL) programs, which seek to promote equal instruction in English and another language (Baker & Wright, 2017). As a result, programs and curricula have changed to ensure that the programs provide a language allocation plan and instruction that promotes biliterate practices (Howard et al., 2018). However, tensions and barriers (Menken, 2008) continue to challenge the proper implementation of bilingual models and education that genuinely enables biliteracy. One of the significant challenges is the shortage of teachers, especially bilingual educators. A high percentage of bilingual instruction is provided by a Spanish speaking teacher (Taie & Lewis, 2022) who needs to show proficiency in the language of instruction. However, being proficient in the language of instruction is not enough to promote fair practices that enhance bilingualism and biliteracy. Often teachers encounter tensions within their language ideologies, which are often linked to their experiences. Given the historical underrepresentation that Latinas’ lived experiences with language have had in higher education and bilingual curricula (Delgado-Bernal et al., 2012), this study sought to inform and contribute to research about Latina teachers’ language ideologies perceptions of biliteracy. This study explored a critical perspective of Latina teachers' experiences as bilinguals and how the intersection of race and linguistic competencies, along with the conflicts of living and belonging to more than one world, created new knowledge. This new knowledge and the literacy moments that can emerge from these intersections and conflicts can become assets for biliteracy instruction. The new population of bilingual students is represented by a high percentage of simultaneous bilinguals (Baker & Wright, 2017), who constitute the new normal (Escamilla et al., 2014). This new normal has created the need for bilingual programs to evolve and develop more flexible language approaches to bilingualism and biliteracy (García & Li Wei, 2018). It has also required teachers to reflect on their beliefs, provide instruction free of bias, and adapt to the new strengths and needs of emergent bilingual students (EBs). Through the use of Critical Race Nepantlera Methodology (Acevedo-Gil, 2019) and Testimonios (Delgado-Bernal, 2012), I sought to identify sources of knowledge and empowerment within teachers and create spaces for reflection and transformation of inequitable biliteracy teaching practices. The purpose of this qualitative collective case study was to examine and explore indepth the lived experiences and embodied ideologies of Latina teachers as bilinguals and how these beliefs could affect the way they approached the new generations of EBs’ biliteracy instruction in DL classrooms.



Education, Bilingual and Multicultural, Education, Elementary