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2019 TESOL Research Mini-Grant Recipients

The Meaning of “American”: Messages Sent and Understandings Constructed During Adult Citizenship Education
Debby J. Adams
University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, United States

Although the passage rate for the U.S. citizenship exam is 90%, those who do not pass are disproportionately low-income with limited formal education (Aptekar, 2015). These are the people who typically seek a class to prepare for the civics, English, and literacy requirements of the exam. While scholars have analyzed the test itself and materials produced by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, this work examines the multimodal messages regarding American identity in two textbooks widely used in citizenship classes. Operating from the understanding of Americanism as a social identity (Tajfel, 1978) and utilizing a sociocognitive approach (van Dijk, 1993), this textbook analysis will be paired with the perspectives of new Americans who attained citizenship after taking a class using these books. Of interest is how those making the legal transition to American citizenship interpret the written curriculum (and, by extension, the test itself) regarding what it means to be American.


Debby J. Adams is a Ph.D. Candidate in Curriculum & Instruction (TESOL emphasis) at the University of Kansas. She teaches for the Applied English Center and also works for the Center for Teaching Excellence. Coming from an adult ESOL background, her research explores psychological and sociological aspects of adult ESOL.

Translanguaging and Teaching Math: How Teachers Learn to Utilize Emergent Bilingual Students' Full Linguistic Abilities

Kerry Soo Von Esch, PhD
Seattle University, Seattle, Washington, United States 

Preparing teachers to provide equitable learning opportunities for emergent bilingual (EB) students in elementary classrooms continues to challenge educators. While the research highlights the need for teachers to build on the strengths of EL students to support academic learning, how teachers learn to address cultural and linguistic complexity remains underaddressed. This study investigates how teachers learn to cultivate EB students' multilingual abilities, called translanguaging, to engage in mathematical learning. Using a design-based research methodology, this study examines how teachers' knowledge and skills evolve over time as the teachers engage in inquiry cycles of designing, analyzing, and revising translanguaging instructional practices through a series of classroom- and job-embedded professional learning opportunities. This study aims to contribute both theoretical and practical knowledge regarding teacher learning focused on translanguaging and math instruction, the connections between teacher learning and productive pedagogy for EB students, and productive job-embedded professional learning models.

KerryDr. Kerry Soo Von Esch is an assistant professor in educating culturally and linguistically diverse students at Seattle University. Her research focuses on the teaching and learning of emergent bilingual students, teacher learning, teacher education, and the integration of language and English learner instruction into the content areas.

Exploring Best Practices that Impact the Self-Regulation of English Language Learners:  A Qualitative Narrative Study 

Ileana Hilton
Northcentral University, Chinquapin, North Carolina, United States

The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore teachers' perception regarding best practices for the acquisition of readiness skills among low SES, Hispanic ELL kindergarten students.  School readiness skills are important factors in predicting English proficiency and academic achievement of young ELLs (Curby et al., 2014; McClelland & Cameron, 2018; Quirk et al., 2016).  Self-regulation skills contribute to school readiness and future academic success, especially in language and literacy (Curby et al., 2014).  Self-regulation encompasses components of Executive Functions, considered essential for early learning (McClelland & Cameron, 2018).  Working memory, attention shifting, and inhibition control enable children to avoid distractions, follow instructions, stay on task, interact with peers, and persist through difficulty (McClelland et al., 2014). Low SES, Hispanic ELLs have shown to begin school unprepared, specifically in cognitive and language readiness (Quirk, et al. 2013). This study intends to provide insight into developmentally and culturally appropriate practices.

IleanaIleana Hilton is a doctoral candidate at Northcentral University. She received her BS in Elementary Education from UMASS Boston and EDM from Harvard Graduate School of Education.  She has taught English language learners (ELLs) in the US and Middle East.  Her research focuses on the self-regulation skills of Hispanic ELLs.