Thumbnail Image

Mexican emergent bilingual students and their out-of-school digital media experiences for in-school language development: A focused ethnographic case study of autonomous language learning

Edwards, Robyn Jodie
Research suggests that students' personalized digital English language practices beyond the classroom can support subsequent in-school academic language development (Alm, 2021). The purpose of this study was to understand the out-of-school and in-school language experiences that bilingual Mexican students identified as supporting their English development. A focused ethnographic case study was conducted over a two-year period prior to and during the Covid-19 pandemic for data collection and analysis. The participants included five students in a private Spanish-English bilingual high school in Mexico. Data was collected through direct participant observations, in-depth semi-structured interviews, and language reflection journals. Analysis of the data revealed two themes related to students' experiences acquiring English as a foreign language in a Mexican bilingual high school. First, students acquired academic productive skills in English when low-stakes content aligned with students' interests. On the contrary, when the school presented unengaging high-stakes content, students referred to less demanding but more socially engaging English activities beyond the classroom which helped build their confidence. Secondly, the findings of this dissertation also identified students’ self-directed and interest-driven approaches to learning English beyond the classroom which included online social interactions with English speakers through their popular digital media technologies. Finally, the findings of this study provide compelling insights into students’ out-of-class digital language practices through Dörnyei’s (2009) L2 Motivational Self-System. This knowledge also contributes to bridging formal and informal language learning contexts for bilingual education through the nexus of technology.