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Date of Award



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Document Type

Thesis: EWU Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA) in English: Teaching English as a Second Language




"This Master's thesis is a case study of four experienced ESL instructors of Adult Basic Education (ABE) and Vocational ESL. (VESL). All are alumni of the Master of Arts in English Program with a Teaching English as a Second Language emphasis at Eastern Washington University (EWU). The primary focus of the case study are the theses these four professionals--all of whom currently have at least 15 years of ESL teaching experience, primarily in the Spokane Community College system with many years in the Institute for Extended Learning (IEL) on Monroe Street and/or in the Hillyard community where many recent immigrants and refugees live. Popchock (1999) wrote about workplace English and included several Vietnamese working in a local company where she offered English instruction, and more recently she developed a community-based literacy project and taught it at several levels to foster community engagement and English. Nardecchia (2002) presented a longitudinal single case study of a Russian immigrant working in a boat factory and trying to acquire English in the workplace with some occasional classes at the adult learning center where she was teaching. Roberton (2009) presented the Spokane VESL programs, including interviews with instructors, while Black (2013) focused her research on preliterate adult refugees and the challenges they face in the United States as they try to find employment. A major question being asked in recent research is whether English literacy is liberating or colonizing learners (MacDonald, 2015). As a proponent of democratic education, the thesis writer discusses the role of critical consciousness as well as the purposes of job training, which some would view as filling slots in industry. Democratic education should free learners from constraints related to country of origin, ethnic identity, socioeconomic status, educational level, religion, gender, and age. ABE and VESL would ideally offer job opportunities and freedom of choice to learners. Democratic education transforms a learner into an active participant who has a sharp sense of self-awareness and social responsibility. The author reviews literature about the role of literacy in learners' lives while exploring bell hooks' and Paulo Freire's definitions of emancipatory education that lays a foundation for self-actualization where full participation in a democracy would help workers not feel like machines. He argues that the ESL classroom should be a site of resistance, and the author discusses his own experiences in culinary arts vocational program. He writes that he felt like a cog in the food industry's machine to make a profit. Implications for teaching and recommendations for future research are needed"--Leaves iv-v.