2015 Capstone Projects

A. Teaching Portfolios

1. James Benjamin Gill


2. Marta Grecchi



B. Capstone Papers

1. Second Language Socialization and Intercultural Competence in a Language Exchange Program among Brazilian Portuguese and American English Speakers

Beatriz Brito Carneiro

In order to understand how issues of SA, identity and investment, SLS and IC relate to one another, this project intends to examine a group of Brazilian students in SA at a university in the United States. Despite the fact that these students take undergraduate classes and are constantly exposed to the English language through daily written assignments, readings and lectures, they mostly interact within their own group of peers and speak Portuguese more often than English. Socialization with native speakers is rare and it is primarily limited to brief service encounters with cashiers and clerks in restaurants or stores. With the purpose of providing a broader range of affordances in English and increase their chances to use the language in significant ways, a language exchange program was conceived. The Buddy Program had the objective of pairing up American English speakers taking Portuguese language classes at the undergraduate level with the group of Brazilian students, so that they could engage in the collaboratively enterprise of mediating learning, negotiating meaning, sharing culture and practicing their second languages. Consequently, this project has the goal to answer the following questions: How can a language exchange program in SA promote increasing second language socialization among learners? How do differences in identity and investment affect this process? In what ways can second language socialization help develop intercultural competence among the participants?

2. Lingua francas beyond English: Multilingual repertoires among immigrants in Tucson

Jenna Altherr Flores

Nationalistic and neoliberal rhetoric often makes English equivalent to the national language in the U.S. and/or the global language in the world. In our research, we provide a critique of both nation-state-language ideology, and of the neoliberal view of English as the global language par excellence. While Spanish use is common among Tucson’s Central American immigrants, we specifically chose two non-Hispanic immigrant communities for our study to demonstrate the complex multilingual repertoires present in Tucson. Our research focuses on language use in two distinct Tucson immigrant communities – one is a resettled refugee apartment complex and the other is a Mandarin church. We are combining our studies because though the two communities are very different in terms of language, educational background, and socioeconomic status, we see a similar outcome here in the local context of Tucson in how these multilingual communities react to nationalistic and neoliberal rhetoric.

3. ‘Just do it!’: Reasons for learning Italian, conceptualized by the institution on a macro level, and by Isabella, a foreign language learner on a micro level

Borbala Gaspar

This paper explores possible reasons for learning Italian in two interconnected levels: a macro and a micro level. On a macro level, within the use of discourse analysis, I examine the normalized social expectations conceptualized by the institution, of a typical foreign language learner of Italian in a University of Southern Arizona. I explore the defined reasons for learning Italian, as well as the characteristics of a typical learner that the institution pictures and wishes to have.

Following, in a micro level analysis, drawing on the notion of identity and investment (Norton, 2000; Norton Pierce, 1995), in a longitudinal case study, I explore the development of identities and investment in language learning of Isabella, who due to her deafness cannot be categorized as “a typical” or a “ normative” foreign language learner of Italian. I examine why Isabella is learning Italian, what factors motivated Isabella to learn Italian, and how her dynamically changing and shaping identities such as gender identity and professional identity play a role, and is influenced by her language learning. More than 35 hours of video and audio recordings of the tutoring sessions, artifacts, and the published text on the departmental website of the French and Italian Department provided the primary sources of data in this longitudinal study. Within the goal of comparing the macro and micro levels and examine the gaps and disconnections between them, this paper reports on the disunion between an imagined, future learner of Italian and a current, not “a typical” learner, Isabella, and provides examples on the ways her identities shape in the process of language learning.

4. EFL in the Language Curriculum: A Case on Venezuelan Education

Maredil Leon

This investigation has as main purpose to analyze the content of the Bolivarian National Curriculum for EFL and determine its strengths and weaknesses. I will start by describing the Venezuelan educational system in general; its basis and how it is organized. Then I will pay attention to the major focus of this paper, the teaching of English as a foreign language in the country. I will analyze and discuss the National Bolivarian Curriculum and the new books used to teach EFL across the nation in all public schools; the positive and negative aspects of them. Finally, I will point out the role of EFL writing inside of the Venezuelan curriculum and discuss what I have found in this research. 

5. “Pretend You Are A…”: Using Textbooks to Introduce Point of View to High Beginner ESL Students

Karyn Light

Language textbooks have changed over the last few decades to include socio-cultural representation and accuracy. Point of view is an important socio-cultural concept, yet many textbooks do not emphasis it, explicitly or implicitly. Acknowledging point of view (POV) within the classroom is important for students’ critical thinking and cultural understanding; therefore, introducing the concept early in language learning is vital for student success. Alerting students to points of view that are already present in their textbooks is simple and beneficial. Through this analysis I examine differences in the expressed points of view in three Oral Communications textbooks that are used to teach high beginning English language learners. Using the data, I make recommendations for how POV, above and beyond an ESL textbook, can be used pedagogically

6. Hip hop and multiliteracies: the pedagogical potential of hip hop for ESL

Victoria Paige Pinkston

Despite what many well-versed in hip hop culture see as a fundamental misunderstanding between themselves and hip hop illiterates, however, scholars from disciplines ranging from linguistics to sociology to education have argued for the implementation of hip hop in school curricula. These arguments generally take one of two broad forms. On the one hand, hip hop is seen as a way to examine urban youth culture, and, more specifically, the effects of and reactions to racism and oppression. The second line of argument sees hip hop as a vehicle for studying language. I argue that the study of hip hop will necessarily accomplish both goals, as well as serve other purposes that other forms of literature used in schools are unable to do, such as empowering and legitimizing youth culture and, consequently, enhancing interest in education and literacy for those students who are left behind by traditional education. In order for hip hop to be used to its fullest potential, however, it must be approached strategically. Toward this end, I will be working within the multiliteracies framework as proposed by the New London Group. After explaining several central multiliteracies concepts, and exploring the general ways that hip hop embodies these themes, I will apply these concepts in close readings of three hip hop texts: “The Whole World” by Outkast, “Mercy” by Kanye West, and “Fork” by 2 Chainz. In all cases, I consider the text as comprised of the lyrics, musical performance, and music video, which exemplifies the multimodality inherent to hip hop. These analyses will explore the ways that hip hop as literature exemplifies central multiliteracies concepts and thus provides a promising pedagogical tool for imparting these concepts to students, both in first and second language contexts. Moreover, I will demonstrate how using hip hop as literacy—gaining hip hop literacy—broadens notions of competence, thereby developing critical thinking skills, cultivating  social consciousness, and encouraging student creativity and independence in their literacy practices. Finally, I close by summarizing the ways these various advantages of hip hop apply specifically to ESL contexts.


College of Social and Behavioral Sciences