Stuck in Two Worlds: A Case Study of Dual Language Learners and Their Reading Perceptions of Culturally Relevant Texts

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Curriculum and Instruction

Date of Award

Spring 2020


This qualitative study examined dual language learners participating in a two-way dual language program in a central Texas school. Specifically, the researcher investigated and documented the cultural perceptions of dual language learners when exposed to culturally relevant texts and how those perceptions affect their interaction with the texts. In addition, this examined whether culturally relevant texts help address the cognitive dissonance and how they influence students' self-identity. A purposeful sample of six dual language learners was used. Data collection consisted of classroom observations, analysis of students' reading response journals and in-depth qualitative interviews. The interviews and observations were transcribed. Open coding and analytical coding were employed in the inductive analysis cycle of data in this study. Three major themes emerged: making connections, identity construction and social issues. Further analysis revealed six subthemes: (1) personal, (2) cultural reference (making connections); (3) self, (4) bilingualism (identity); (5) social, and (6), political (social issues).The discussion offers considerable support for the findings of existing research on culturally responsive pedagogy and the response of dual language learners to the integration of culturally relevant texts to their reading instruction. The ability of dual language learners to connect to culturally relevant texts and their increase reading motivation and engagement are a contribution to the literature. In this study, the findings are reported in the voices of the participants, which is lacking in the current literature. Also, dual language learners' cultural perceptions depending on generational status and development of student self-identity are presented, which are new to the existing literature. In conclusion, this research produced two important results for the field of bilingual education: (1) the need for schools and school districts to offer dual language educators culturally responsive training, and (2), mind shift in dual language educators to become more intentional in their teaching in order to help with cultural dissonance by knowing their students and becoming knowledgeable of the generational differences in dual language learners. Studies that further explore dual language learners' cultural perceptions and Spanish learners are warranted.


Sherri Colby

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Education