A marginalized third space: English language learners’ cultural capital
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In certain English learning contexts where textbook-driven and standardized curriculum is a predominant approach, content materials and genres situated in native-English-speaking cultures are nevertheless foreign and daunting to English language learners (ELLs). However, the link between ELLs’ learning outcomes and English instruction that capitalizes on their cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1986) is disconnected. To address this issue evident in the aforementioned phenomenon, this synthesis paper presents a critical review of how ELLs’ cultural capital interplays between the dominant (mainstream schooling) and the dominated (cultural capital inherited by ELLs) across diverse sociocultural contexts and discourses in the classroom and beyond. Using Bourdieu’s (1986) cultural capital as a critical lens, ten salient studies surrounding this issue are critically examined across various learning settings: Pop culture, mainstream schooling and instruction, post-secondary education, bilingual program, out-of-school literacy practices and online community—highlighted by the findings and pedagogical implications for English teaching and learning. A call for an inclusive and empathetic approach that can empower ELLs and legitimize their cultural capital is needed.
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