Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Sociocultural and Academic Considerations for School-Age D/deaf and Hard of Hearing Multilingual Learners: A Case Study of a Deaf Latina

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Sociocultural and Academic Considerations for School-Age D/deaf and Hard of Hearing Multilingual Learners: A Case Study of a Deaf Latina

Article excerpt

The population of d/Deaf and hard of hearing (d/Dhh) students educated in schools in the United States and Canada is rapidly changing; specifically, it is becoming more diverse as a result of medical and technological advances (Knoors & Marschark, 2012) and shifting demographic and immigration patterns (Gallaudet Research Institute, 2013). Schools consequently must respond to the changing needs of students. The present article focuses on a specific population of d/Dhh students from non-English-speaking homes who are multilingual learners and represent diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. These d/Dhh Multilingual Learners (DMLs) typically are students who were born in countries where English is not the primary language (Cannon & Guardino, 2012) and immigrated with their families to the United States or Canada; they attended schools in which English and/or American Sign Language (ASL) were the primary languages of instruction. Extant research on students who are DMLs is extremely sparse. To better understand the educational experiences of the DML population and to form a foundation for future research, we compiled a case study of a DML who had recently graduated from high school. The case study provides a rich description of one Latina student's experience in an urban public school program for d/Dhh students, focusing on the educational and sociocultural factors that had an impact on her learning trajectory.

Literature Review Historical Context of Immigration

Numerous state and federal agencies, think tanks, and policy centers study and report on the shifting demographics of the United States, which affect the economy, schools, health care, and the labor force (e.g., the Pew Hispanic Center, the Brookings Institution). Immigration, in particular, continues to be a controversial topic because of the growing number of immigrant students educated in U.S. public schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2014a), 4.4 million students whose home language was not English were educated in U.S. schools during the 2011-2012 academic year; these children and youth accounted for 9-1% of the entire student population. Schools educating these children usually refer to them as English Language Learners (ELLs). However, the student population is dynamic, and while the United States is less multilingual than the rest of the world, almost 20% of the U.S. student population uses multiple languages (Grosjean, 2010).

Immigrant students from nonEnglish-speaking homes have been attending schools in the United States since the beginning of public education, but it was only after passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and its amendments in 1976 that the country became a more diverse, multicultural society (Rong & Preissle, 2009). These laws opened borders and increased opportunities for the fourth wave of immigration, the largest in U.S. history. Between 1965 and 2015, new immigrants, their children, and their grandchildren accounted for 55% of U.S. population growth (Pew Research Center, 2015). Most fourth-wave immigrants entered the country from Latin America, particularly Mexico (Lukes, 2015; Zong & Batalova, 2014). Brown (2015) reports that 34.6 million Hispanics of Mexican origin resided in the United States in 2013; Mexican Americans are the largest population of Latinos in the country, accounting for nearly two thirds of the U.S. Latino population. Moreover, 28% of the country's 41.3 million foreign-born residents are natives of Mexico (Zong & Batalova, 2014, as cited in Brown, 2015).

Looking at bilingualism and language dominance, Brown (2015) provides further information about the Mexican immigrant population, reporting that Mexican immigrants tend to be Spanish-dominant language users, with only 3 in 10 reporting that they are bilingual. Furthermore, 73% of Hispanic people living in the United States report that they speak Spanish in the home (Brown, 2015). …

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