Working Papers in Educational Linguistics (WPEL)


Bingjie Zheng


In the United States, the immigrant population explosion has been calling for increasing attention to English instruction for immigrant learners. In comparison with prolific literature on immigrant English language learners (ELLs) in K–12 educational settings, literature on English instruction for adult immigrant learners at non-profit organizations, especially through microanalysis of classroom interaction, is scarce. Using a microethnographic method, this study explores how a nonnative English speaking student teacher picks up classroom contextualization cues (Gumperz, 1977) to understand how adult immigrant learners negotiate their learning needs and how their classroom habitus (Bourdieu, 1977a) embodies the social forces outside of class. Drawing on poststructuralist identity theories, this paper discusses how adult learners’ conflicts in language learning and socialization are manifested in classroom contextualization cues, and how a non-native English speaking teacher (NNEST) and adult immigrant students discursively and socially co-constructed identity and power dynamics throughout the learning/teaching process. I argue that listening to these contextualization cues has meaningful implications for teachers, who should listen for classroom details and reflectively examine their positionality in the discourse of teaching adult immigrant populations. This paper also urges rejection of stereotyped deficit views toward immigrant learners and NNESTs in the field of language teaching.