Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

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




This is a single case study of an octogenarian Mexican-American single mother who raised her children bilingually in the United States, creating diglossia—with Spanish spoken at home and church and English spoken in school and community as recommended by Hakuta and others. Trained as a teacher in Mexico, this mother brought her children to full cultural literacy as well as bilingualism by practicing heritage traditions and speaking the heritage language exclusively with them. Through extensive interviewing this past year, I report on the themes in her stories, analyze the decisions she made, and discuss the success of her children. The sources of her resilience are identified and discussed. This Mexican-American single parent discussed her own education and teacher preparation in Mexico, graduating from high school in the late 1940’s, though she was born in the United States. Heritage language maintenance and ethnic identity are major areas of this investigation that provide relevant cultural information by employing ethnographic methods and applying constructivist grounded theory. At the same time, I review laws that were passed during her lifetime, insuring the maintenance of Spanish and the acquisition of English for those in public schools. Like Anzaldua and other successful Mexican American scholars, the subject was highly motivated to be educated and to educate her children despite the fact that her own mother died young, leaving her to be raised under difficult conditions.