Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Eric Dwyer, PhD

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Phillip Carter, PhD

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Jacqueline Lynch, PhD

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. James Burns

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Ryan Pontier, PhD

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


literacy in multilingual settings, emergent bilingual, biliteracy, bilingualism, heritage language, home language, immigrant literacy, multilingual learner, English Language Learner, Dual Language Learner

Date of Defense



This study adds to the conversation about the increasing language diversity in U.S. schools (Paris & Alim, 2014). In the South Florida district discussed here, ELLs represent 16.9% of the total student enrollment (Miami Dade, 2020), and there is a popular narrative about the value of bilingualism in this community. Despite that, Valencia and Lynch (2019), Mackinney (2016), and Lanier (2014) indicated: even though the bilingual political and economic value in South Florida is noticeable, HLs are relegated to a secondary place and with no prestige inside local school settings.

As Garcia and Wei (2014) observed: "language practices cannot be developed except through the students' existing knowledge" (p. 80), so it seemed crucial to understand and discuss teachers' beliefs towards emergent bilinguals' HL in this multilingual context. To explore these perceptions, I studied teachers' beliefs towards learners' heritage languages as one more component toward understanding teachers' thought processes and classroom choices in multilingual settings. Therefore, I conducted mixed-method research, using quantitative and qualitative data collection techniques to garner a deep reflection of the beliefs and ideologies of local teachers regarding students' HLs.

The data analysis indicated that teachers valued bilingualism in general and understood, in theory, the advantages of students' developing HL literacy simultaneously with English. However, HLs were primarily not used or valued inside classrooms for instructional purposes. Despite serving a multilingual community of students and being multilingual, teachers held what I named an ideological tolerance tendency towards HL inside schools. They believed they should exclusively use English during "academic time," and many educators were unsure or indicated that they believed they were helping learners when creating an English-only classroom.

Another concerning result was that some teachers relied on Spanish circumstantial translation to equate all students' ESOL lesson adaptations. This limited use of circumstantial Spanish implies that, during academic time, students classified as ESOL are left to "sink or swim" without planned scaffolding. Despite teachers believing they attempted to help and make learners feel comfortable learning, their effort was inconsistent with learners' diverse languages and cultures. Nevertheless, when learners' multilingual repertoires are not used or ignored during instruction, schools will continue to be sites of social and cultural reproduction of a monolingual mindset (Ellis, Gogolin & Clyne, 2010).





Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).