Home  Overview  Learner Portraits  Immigrant-learner identity: Theory  Project Methods  Themes-Conclusions 
Data and Methods

As part of the larger classroom-based research program at the National Labsite for Adult ESOL at Portland State, 170 of the adult immigrant-learners of English in these community college ESOL classes volunteered to participate in in-home, bilingual interviews over the course of three years. The learners' home languages were Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Russian, and French. This study was called the "Labsite Student Study" or LSS.

14 immigrant-learners who participated in interviews in three consecutive years were selected for inclusion in the Learner Portraits project. They are a representative sample of the home languages, educational backgrounds and ages of the entire sample of interviews - five speakers of Spanish, five speakers of Chinese languages, two speakers of Vietnamese, one speaker of Russian and one speaker of French.

The portrait of each learner includes information on language development as it occurs as part of the development of an immigrant-learner identity (Norton, 2003). In constructing the portraits, we have reviewed surveys on family, work, learning, and identity that were collected over four consecutive years as part of these learners' in-home, bilingual interviews. We have also examined standardized language assessments and reports of reading in English and students' first languages. Students' classroom writing was collected and those writing samples also were used as a source of data.

A unique feature of the data set for the development of these portraits is the inclusion of learners' voices from several perspectives including video-recorded narratives on family, work, language learning, and identity in English and in the learners' first languages. The learners' voices are also represented in excerpts from their classroom interaction with peers. The recordings of these interactions were part of the larger data collection process in the Labsite classrooms (a lab school setting). The two classrooms were each equipped with six ceiling-mounted cameras, two of which were mobile and operated remotely (Reder, Harris, & Setzler, 2003). These two cameras focused on student pair interaction. One member of each of those student pairs wore a wireless microphone to ensure high quality audio.

While, for the most part, learners in these interactions are engaged in language learning tasks, before and after (and sometimes as part of) these tasks, learners speak about their lives as workers, family members, immigrants, and language learners. These conversations occur between and among peer immigrant-learners and provide rich, non-elicited insights on the aspects of their lives from the perspective of immigrant-learners in interaction with their peers.

Norton, B. (2003). Identity and language learning: Gender
     ethnicity and educational change
. London: Longman.

Reder, S., Harris, K., & Setzler, K. (2003). A multimedia
     adult learner corpus. TESOL Quarterly, 37(3), 546-557.