Examining hybrid spaces for newcomer English language learners: a critical discourse analysis of email exchanges with business professionals
MetadataShow full item record
This paper provides analysis of a series of email correspondences between secondary newcomer immigrant students and Latino business professionals within the same urban community. The author, using James Gee's discourse theory (1990, 1996, 1999, 2004) contends that school-based discourses and structures have historically operated as barriers to academic success and societal acceptance for the vast majority of secondary English Language Learners, indicating the systemic perpetuation of a racist, classist, xenophobic social order through the public schools. When an attempt is made to sidestep these school-based discourses and put students in direct contact with mature, successful practitioners of English outside of the education community, the students encounter "mentor talk," a set of discourses that uncritically embrace the notions of a neutral, meritocratic, knowledge-based socioeconomic order. At the same time, students encounter language that can be appropriated for their own creative constructions of identity as they seek to position themselves in a new society. Even when there exists a strong alignment between the student's socially-situated identity presentation and the ideological thrust of "mentor talk," many societal barriers stand in the pathway of social and educational advancement. More often, the student identities express resistance, often subtle, to the standard, hegemonizing guidelines for success they have been offered.