Speak Right: A Qualitative Look at Language Policies in Multilingual Classrooms
Woods, Ajeya Imani
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Woods, Ajeya Imani
Multilingual classrooms, where students and/or teachers of varying linguistic backgrounds come together in the same setting to learn, are common in America’s educational landscape. Instructors often strive to create inclusive environments for diverse learners. However, they may unknowingly implement harmful language policies, otherwise known as the linguistic structure a teacher utilizes in the class, without understanding the developmental effect it may have on students. This research details the impact that different language policies have on students who are learning a new language. I applied a post-structural interpretive interactionism method while conducting seven in-depth interviews with college-aged individuals educated in multilingual (Spanish and English languages) elementary school classrooms. Then, the interview transcripts were qualitatively analyzed to determine the effect the teacher's language policies had on the interviewees' educational and social growth. I also utilized a participant method of observation in two dual language elementary school classrooms and one monolingual elementary school classroom, my notes were then analyzed through iterative coding to gain insight into the everyday implications of different language policies in classroom settings The study finds that comprehensive bilingual policies offer students the most linguistic expression while also ensuring that students practice secondary languages in social and professional settings. Additionally, I give an analysis of the negative social psychological influence that strict monolingual policies have on students. I also discuss the merits and faults of the four language systems I examine in this study. It is my hope that educators may use this research as a base of knowledge to create comprehensive language policies for their multilingual classrooms. It is also my hope that strategic communication of my research will result in educational policy changes lead by public policy professionals.