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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

Year Degree Awarded

2016

Month Degree Awarded

September

First Advisor

Theresa Y. Austin

Second Advisor

Margaret Gebhard

Third Advisor

Ann Ferguson

Subject Categories

Education

Abstract

With a microethnographic approach that foregrounds the particular uses of language and connects them with larger processes of social activity, this study examines moment-to-moment interactions between an instructor and a group of learners who participated in a particular lesson that was part of a language course where Spanish was used, learned and taught as a foreign language at a women’s college. Through the analysis of these interactions, I present my understandings of language, race, class and gender and how these social categories can be interrelated in the form of subtle attacks or microaggressions.

In the context of a private small college that was predominantly White and through my testimonio, this study affirms that the nature of microaggressions seems to be complex not only because the categories of language, race, class, and gender can be interconnected but also because the instructor and the language learners co-constructed them in dynamic power relations.

It also shows that there are different types of microaggressions. There are the microaggressions jointly constructed by some White learners and the woman instructor of color. These microaggressions were directed towards the instructor. Other microaggressions were jointly constructed by some women learners of color and the woman of color instructor. In this case, the microaggressions were directed towards the women learners of color. A third type of microaggression was jointly constructed by a White woman learner and a woman instructor of color. The attack was directed towards the White woman learner. Finally, this study demonstrates microaggressions shaped by and directed towards White women learners.

These findings create opportunities to reflect on the topic of microaggressions and the interconnections of the categories of language, race, class, and gender in the area of language education. This reflection stresses the need particularly for women of color educators and instructors to theorize and examine the language classroom. It also emphasizes the importance to be committed to the development of language curriculum and classroom practices that empower language learners who come from linguistically, racially, and economically diverse backgrounds.

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