Date of Award

Fall 12-2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Linguistics, Applied

First Advisor

Christine M. Leider

Second Advisor

Panayota Gounari

Third Advisor

Lianna Pizzo


Existing research has demonstrated that bilingual education in the United States is highly inequitable, providing greater benefits to white English speakers than to students from minoritized backgrounds (e.g., Babino & Stewart, 2017; Palmer, 2009). Additional research has suggested that bilingual spaces also uphold whiteness and English hegemony outside of classrooms, in spaces like parent groups to administrative decisions (e.g., Gallo, 2017; Jacobsen et al., 2019). This ethnographic case study of a Spanish-English Two-Way Dual Language (TWDL) elementary school examines raciolinguistic positioning and interactions among students, teachers, and parents. Drawing on dysconscious racism (King, 1991), LangCrit (Crump, 2014), and critical consciousness (Freire, 2018), this study utilizes a continuum of adherence to existing raciolinguistic power structures to examine the intersection of race and language in TWDL at the classroom, school, and community levels, with a particular emphasis on the ‘messy middle’. I argue that the ‘messy middle’ is a useful lens that offers new and more nuanced language to examine raciolinguistic power structures in bilingual education. Implications for future research in bilingual education and practical recommendations for TWDL communities are discussed.


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