Non-convergent literacy practices and Dominican students in the U.S.

Andrea Parmegiani, Sharon Utakis


We articulate a pedagogical rationale for integrating English writing instruction with writing instruction in Spanish as a strategy for improving success rates among Spanish speaking ESL students (SS-ESL) at Hispanic serving institutions such as Bronx Community College (BCC). We adopt a New Literacy Studies theoretical framework (Street, 1984; Barton & Hamilton, 1998), and review research showing that academic literacy acquisition in a second language is positively correlated to solid literacy foundations in the mother tongue (Cummins, 1979, 2000; Ferguson, 2006; Ramirez, 1992; Skutnabb-Kangas, 2000). Studies suggest that many Dominican SS-ESL students might not have had the opportunity to develop solid academic literacy skills in Spanish and that what is considered effective academic writing in Dominican secondary schools can differ significantly from what U.S. college professors expect from writing assignments. This rationale underpins the creation of a new learning community cluster that included an advanced ESL class, a Spanish composition class, and a Freshmen Year Seminar (FYS). We discuss how the integration of ESL and Spanish composition has helped SS-ESL students bridge the gap between the divergent literacy practices.


college-level ELLs; first year writing at HSIs; Spanish-English multilingual

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