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Carpets, beards, and baseball signs: An intertextual and interdiscursive look at meanings constructed in a cross -cultural setting for language learning

William E. Grohe, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This ethnographic study focuses on a small group of Iranian young adults, four brothers and recent immigrants living in a small city in New England. I used North American popular texts from a variety of sources as content to assist them in developing English language proficiency. For the purpose of this study, I had a dual role of both facilitator and researcher. I collected data throughout an intensive language course I taught over a summer. In this course, the participants negotiated meanings of signs and texts embedded within broader discourses. These interpretations and negotiations of meanings of texts are the focus of the analysis. Through the sharing of texts and discourses, joint discourses were constructed, which became part of the analysis and findings. In addition, the analysis reflects ways participation structure(s) changed during the course, particularly when participant texts or discourses were related to their sociocultural worlds as opposed to North American texts and discourses. Data was collected for this study using ethnographic field notes, audiotapes of the classes, audiotapes of personal interviews with participants, course materials, handouts, written assignments done by the participants during the course, and reflective evaluations. Analytical tools or constructs---specifically, intertextuality, interdiscoursivity, and identity---were the focus of the analysis of the data (Bloome, et al., 2005). The findings in this study indicate that the use of popular texts as schematically accessible content can be an important strategy for developing language skills of young adults from another culture. The findings also indicate that for meaningful discourse to develop it is important for the participants to be able to make intertextual and interdiscursive connections to their sociocultural backgrounds. When this happens, the findings indicate that the participation structure tended to change to learner-centered as the participants became 'knowledgeable cultural authorities.' When this occurs, interaction increases, and more meaningful texts and discourse(s) are constructed.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Language arts

Recommended Citation

Grohe, William E., "Carpets, beards, and baseball signs: An intertextual and interdiscursive look at meanings constructed in a cross -cultural setting for language learning" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3216951.