Language as a Tool in Diverse Forms of Learning

Marjorie Faulstich Orellana, Danny Martinez, Clifford Lee, Elizabeth Montaño

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this manuscript we report on a curriculum design project in which we worked with students in an urban immigrant community to study their own language practices in different contexts. We gathered videotaped data of students in the classroom as well as videos they took of their language practices in other settings. We focus on one student's engagement in this project, and ask how he uses language as a communicative tool in two different activity settings: filling out a form at home with his father, and filling out a form at school. We illuminate variations in this boy's use of language as a communicative and meaning-making tool across these activity settings, finding that he drew on a broader set of communicative tools in interactions with his father at home, including multi-modal communicative strategies, than he did in a similar activity in school. We use these data to complexify discussions of continuities and discontinuities in everyday and school language practices. We conclude with suggestions for how schools can support students’ use of language as a tool for thinking and acting in diverse contexts.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalLinguistics and Education
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • Continuities and discontinuities
  • Communicative repertoires of practice
  • Non-dominant youth
  • Social organization of learning


  • Education
  • Teacher Education and Professional Development

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