Theses Doctoral

Communication and Education at Work: Latino Immigrants Making Sense and Dominating Language in Koreatown, New York City

Velasquez, Karen

This dissertation explores the work-based language education practices of undocumented Latino and Korean immigrants employed in Korean supermarkets and restaurants of Koreatown, New York City. The primary goal of this dissertation is to understand how immigrants educate each other about the communication strategies necessary for accomplishing work together. In Koreatown, Latinos and Koreans engage in cooperative sense-making in workplace "communities of practice" where they participate in joint activities, build new ways of using language together, and learn to dominate language. Interviews, handwritten glossaries, and audio-recorded multilingual workplace conversations reveal how immigrants' engage in sense-making together and learn about the rules, norms, and expectations of their new environments. Analysis of everyday labor practices shows how kitchen assistants, dishwashers, and supermarket workers transform their social positions through evolving language practices. This study also shows how experienced immigrants actively participate as teachers, translators, and guides for immigrant newcomers in Koreatown, transcending cultural and linguistic boundaries in the process.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Varenne, Herve H.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014