Three Korean children's learning English discourses in the ESL and the grade -level classrooms: A case study
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Grounded in critical theories of second language learning and positioning theory, this case study investigates the English discourses of three first grade Korean English language learners (ELLs) in grade-level and ESL classrooms. The purposes of this study are to explore the ELLs' participation in the classrooms, their journey and negotiation of positioning in the multiple worlds of discourses, and their parents' voices about the children's learning English. Participant observation of the children in school and at home, and interviews with the children, parents, and teachers comprise the major data. The major findings are the following: First, in the grade-level and the ESL classrooms, the curriculum and instructional practices served to reproduce and maintain the existing power dominance of mainstream American society by controlling the forms and modes of knowledge. Compared to the grade-level classes that were limited to scripted official discourse, however, the ESL classroom showed the possibility of dialogicality by allowing students to voice themselves. However, this voicing was not incorporated in the main lesson events. Second, the children followed their own paths of appropriating English discourses as they negotiated their positioning in the classes. Third, the parents unintentionally participated in perpetuating the power hegemony by adopting a model minority positioning of themselves and of their children. The findings have implications for teachers, teacher educators, administrators, and researchers. Most of all, ESL teacher education programs need to develop more strategic and critical pedagogies to deal with the complex sociopolitical dynamics involved in learning a second language.