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Production of third spaces for immigrant English language learners: (Re)negotiating identity and discourse in the secondary classroom

Andrew W. Habana Hafner, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study explores theoretical and pedagogical implications of space, language, and power in renegotiating identity for immigrant English Language Learners (ELLs) in secondary schools in the United States. The primary research question explored in the study is: How does spoken and written language and discourse shape the production of third spaces for renegotiating immigrant student identity in the ELL writing classroom? I adopt an epistemological lens of space from a postmodern geographic perspective that contends that space is socially produced and is co-constituted by material, abstract and lived spaces. The theoretical framework draws on constructs of social space, space-time, and the chronotope propose reconsideration of third spaces for immigrant ELLs. The context of the study is an intermediate ELL writing classroom designed around immigrant students developing academic and critical literacy grounded in their lived spaces of immigration. The methodology employed combines ethnography of the classroom space with critical discourse analysis of critical spatial events that are analyzed as moments of spatial production. Ethnographic narrative of the classroom space, governed by guiding concepts of critical literacy and shared behavioral norms, centers on the focal immigration unit in which student immigration narratives provide overarching chronotopes of immigrant student identities. Analysis of classroom spatial production highlights tensions in social space that are mediated by language, discourse and communication surrounding immigrant identities. Transcript analysis of critical spatial events traces intersecting space-times at global, local and micro-local scales of classroom discourse. Findings from ethnographic case study of one immigrant Latino male, who aspires to become a hip hop DJ, illustrate how hip hop discourses frame the chronotope of immigration and represent a shared third space between the teacher and focal student. This study contributes new ideas in theory and research methods by operationalizing third spaces for immigrant ELL student. Implications also follow for curriculum and instruction rooted in lived spaces of experience and for critical reflective practice for educators.

Subject Area

English as a Second Language|Multicultural Education|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Hafner, Andrew W. Habana, "Production of third spaces for immigrant English language learners: (Re)negotiating identity and discourse in the secondary classroom" (2012). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3498346.