Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

John I. Liontas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrea DeCapua, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Ilene Berson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Janet C. Richards, Ph.D.


Additional Language Acquisition, Indigenous, Multilingual, Multimodal, Participatory Visual Methods, Positioning


Scholars historically emphasized literate learners’ additional language trajectories. In countries with increasingly large numbers of limited-literate adult language learners, there is an urgent need to inspire limited-literate adults to speak out and be heard. To address the needs of adult language learners with inconsistent schooling, and the ways their identities, agency, and social power influence opportunities for participation in the target language communities of practice, scholars need to implement bottom-up and responsive curricular and research innovations. To this end, informed by poststructuralist and transdisciplinary understandings of English language development, I investigated the identity work (self-positioning and other-positioning) and agency deployment of limited-literate Indigenous Latinxs in a U.S. community-based English language program. Using a descriptive and exploratory qualitative research design, I examined how everyday target language, multimodal practices, and power dynamics mobilized two multilingual Indigenous women’s possible transformation(s) of English language learners’ and speakers’ identities over time. I devoted attention to the ways the two participants used multisemiotic codes to make sense of their experiences related to learning and speaking English in Photovoice tasks anchored in the Mutually Adaptive Learning Paradigm®.

I used multimodal positioning analysis to explore interactions between target language and visuals in digital photographs authored and disseminated by the focal participants, their written and oral explanations of these visuals, semi-structured interviews, field notes, and researcher’s e-journals. My findings underscored the common features and the linguistic and educational disconnect in their English language trajectories. Through my findings, I demonstrated the ways my participants relied on target language and visual (e.g., digital photographs) resources to portray intricate, occasionally ambivalent affiliations in the classroom, at home, workplace, and other real and imagined communities of practice. Although they pursued learning English to further their employment goals and support their children’s academic success, and English became part of their professional realities over time, their ascribed and self-imposed identities shaped their working life and well-being differently in the host country. Additionally, I revealed the unique ways the participants activated discursive moves in the target language and visual means to express and configure identity positions. This level of self-awareness might help language learners contest and act upon practices that marginalize them.

Pedagogical and research implications forward the call to combine Photovoice and Mutually Adaptive Learning Paradigm as asset-based, participant-centered, and emancipatory practices to connect micro-meso-macro level dimensions and to capture the complexity in English language participation from emic perspectives and multisemiotic resources. I support the potential of transdisciplinary, participatory, inclusive, and multimodal models in English language literacy teaching and learning to disrupt norms, effectively engage, and enhance target language trajectories through reflexive and transformative identity negotiations, authentic relationships, and shared narratives.