Theses Doctoral

Choosing Dual Language Bilingual Education over English-only Programs: A Cultural-Historical Perspective of Immigrant Parents

Son, Minhye

The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the beliefs and experiences of Korean immigrant parents who chose to send their children to a Korean dual language bilingual education (DLBE) program in the United States. Utilizing cultural historical activity theory and bilingualism as theoretical and conceptual frameworks, the author explored (a) how these parents’ prior experiences, transnational/transcultural knowledge, ethnic and cultural identities, and language ideologies have contributed to their educational decision and (b) how the parents are mobilizing their children’s heritage language education through a DLBE program. To honor and value the participants’ emic view, this study employed in-depth individual interviews, activity-based focused group interviews, home visits, and participant observations. Furthermore, for participants to experience and explore dynamic ways to share their stories and lived experiences, the author facilitated opportunities for multiple multimodal research activities such as a shared community walk, a word association activity, and a map drawing activity.

The findings revealed that the most important motivation for choosing a Korean DLBE program over English-only programs came from their strong Korean ethnic pride and identity, which they all felt obliged to pass on to their children. Additionally, the participants became social, cultural, and educational resources for each other to compensate and overcome various challenges in supporting their children’s bilingual education due to the short bilingual teacher retention, isolated program configuration, and discontinuity of the program after elementary school. All the participants embodied the importance of maintaining heritage language and culture, actively supporting their children’s in and out of school experience and advocating for their children’s bilingual education. This study offers implications and suggestions for teaching and research as well as for ethnically, culturally, and linguistically marginalized immigrant bilingual communities. The author hopes to contribute to research and pedagogical practices in bilingual/bicultural education, heritage language learning, and community-based research, focusing on finding ways to better serve minoritized immigrant communities in the United States.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Interdisciplinary Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Martinez Alvarez, Patricia
Paula Ghiso, Maria Paula
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 16, 2021