Academic language development through technology: English learners in a fifth grade science class

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Academic language development through technology: English learners in a fifth grade science class

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Grounded in sociocultural models of learning, this study explores structures for participation and types of interaction that occur during the performance of technologyassisted tasks in a science classroom to detail some of the opportunities for learning made available to English learners (ELs) and some practices that might constitute effective instruction within such a context. In particular, this study explores how ELs use language to socialize and how they are socialized to use language during technology-assisted tasks in a science classroom within a given participant structure. Findings show that five different participant structures were used during technology-assisted tasks, all of which required ELs to understand and use varied interaction patterns; different levels of authority and responsibilities were given to interlocutors in each structure. As different participant structures employed different interactional patterns and practices, learners behaved according to differing norms expected by each participant structure. Findings showed that members of the class shared the rules regarding the initiation of interactions and open topics, as well as allowing time to listen and follow the cue of teachers or technology. In this sense, the class functioned as a community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Each participant structure appeared to contribute to the variety of the interaction types, as well as to kinds of subsequent learning and socialization of ELs, providing divergent levels of transparency, legitimacy, and peripherality to ELs. The integration of technology unfolded differently across participant structures and has implications for ELs’ academic language learning opportunities.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. February 2013. Major: English as a Second Language. Advisor: Dr. Martha H. Bigelow. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 182 pages, appendix p. 182.

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Kim, Hye Yeong. (2013). Academic language development through technology: English learners in a fifth grade science class. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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