Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies


Elementary Education

First Advisor

Stephen L. Thompson


Meeting the needs of multilingual learners is a growing concern for many classroom teachers across the nation as school-age populations in the United States continue to become more ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse. Teachers often have little understanding of diverse learners and frequently express misconceptions about these students and their cultures. The purpose of this qualitative multiple case study was to explore the social, cultural, and linguistic resources multilingual learners draw upon and the literacy practices they enact during reading and writing workshop when culturally responsive pedagogy (CRP) is implemented. This study also examined how culturally relevant (CR) texts and materials influenced multilingual learners’ understanding of the reading and writing process. The study focused on two third and fourth-grade multilingual learners over the course of twelve weeks—six weeks during a summer enrichment program, followed by six-weeks of tutoring in their homes. Several theories informed this study including sociocultural theory, critical social theory, and second language acquisition theory.

Results show that models of literacy were alive in these multilingual learners’ homes and their families were co-learners along with the participants. The participants used a variety of resources from their homes and communities to successfully navigate various social settings such as school. As the participants moved between their home environments and the community, they traveled in and out of their native language of Spanish (L1) and English (L2), fluidly accessing both languages, as if surrounded by invisible, flexible bands of language. Pulling from their entire linguistic repertoire, the participants translanguaged between their L1 and L2 to accomplish many tasks. Frequently, the students assumed the roles of interpreters, translating for parents, teachers, and friends, allowing others access to their linguistic resources. Both participants also used their linguistic abilities to become gatekeepers, withholding information from others and situating themselves into a position of power. Using culturally relevant texts and materials enhanced the participants’ learning in many ways. Utilizing CR texts and materials helped support the participants’ identities as multilingual learners, increased their sense of agency and linguistic security, and enhanced their understanding of reading and writing process.


© 2015, Evelyn Spradley Stockdale