Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Languages, Literatures and Cultures

First Advisor

Lucy Spence


Immersion programs face a variety of challenges that are common to the field, such as lack of materials appropriate for students’ language abilities, assessment, teacher recruitment and retention, balancing content and language, and relevant, high quality professional development for teachers. However, within specific micro-contexts, other issues can affect the success of immersion programs. Since the teacher’s role is critical in all aspects of the immersion classroom, more emphasis needs to be placed on talking with teachers about their experiences in order to provide better professional development, and to build a stronger community of support.

This narrative autoethnography examines my journey both as immersion teacher and teacher coach, as well as the insights of six current immersion teachers in a relatively large Spanish immersion program, spanning four different schools. Based on interviews, reflections, observations, field notes, and narrative inquiry, this study sought to better understand the lived experiences of immersion teachers in order to answer the questions:

1. How do teachers’ stories help us understand the context of immersion teachers in one school district?

2. How does this understanding lead to better support of immersion teachers?

Findings indicate that in certain micro-contexts, issues of marginalization, devaluing of the second language, and a school within a school dichotomy can occur. Furthermore, teachers themselves have answers to many of these problems if they are given a voice. Using liminal theory to re-frame the discussion of language value and marginalization, this study reports teachers’ stories of classroom success, professional support, language and content integration and becoming. By re-framing the dialogue, immersion teachers and administrators should be able to gain agency to confront the social and political dominance of a monolingual education system. Furthermore, continuous, embedded professional development with a focus on sociocultural theory and practice is another manner to address the need for high quality, ongoing professional development of immersion teachers.


© 2017, Lauren Speece