[lg policy] Arizona: Fulbright award to support study of second-language learning in Spain

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jul 29 18:04:35 UTC 2012

Fulbright to support study of second-language learning in Spain
Posted: July 24, 2012

Teachers College doctoral candidate Sarah Newcomer grew up in the
Valley and graduated from

Meeting the needs of students who are not fluent in the official
language of schooling, a significant concern in Arizona, is also a key
issue in Barcelona, Spain. A doctoral candidate from ASU’s Mary Lou
Fulton Teachers College has been selected for a Fulbright U.S. Student
Grant to spend the spring of 2013 in Barcelona, investigating how
language education policy was created to support students who are not
native speakers of Catalan is implemented.

Sarah Newcomer currently is completing her Teachers College doctorate
in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on language and

“My dissertation focuses on how one school community here in Phoenix
has been able to negotiate the state’s current language policies in
order to continue offering a curriculum that includes a
Spanish/English dual language program,” Newcomer said. “I am learning
that a schoolwide culture and community that value the concept of the
whole child are necessary to sustaining such programs.”

Newcomer’s Fulbright study will provide a comparison of how school
communities implement and negotiate language education policies in
Barcelona and Arizona. The region of Catalonia presents a unique
research location and counterpart to Arizona for several reasons, she

Arizona and Catalonia are similar in that each has a historically
diverse population, which now includes a large number of immigrants.
Within the last 30 years, Spain has experienced a large-scale wave of
immigration, which has accelerated rapidly within the past 10 years.

“Here in Arizona, 10 percent of all school-aged children are English
learners,” Newcomer said. “So Arizona and Catalonia both face the
challenge of how best to support students who often do not speak the
official language of schooling. The policies designed to address these
challenges in the two locations are fundamentally different, yet
produce similar results. I’m excited about the exceptional opportunity
I have been afforded through the Fulbright Grant to compare language
policy implementation in both locations.”

Newcomer, who grew up in the Valley and graduated from Tempe High
School, describes herself as having a longtime interest in the
intersections of language, culture and identity in schools. She has
studied and taught abroad, is fluent in Spanish, and has studied
French, Italian and Japanese. As an ASU graduate student she was
introduced to the topic of language planning and policy and how such
policy can affect the learning experiences of young people in school.

“I look forward to comparing my current research findings with what is
happening in schools in Barcelona, where Spanish and Catalan are
co-official languages, but where the primary language of schooling is
in Catalan,” Newcomer said. “I hope to learn more about the
experiences of Catalan learners, most of whom are from immigrant
families. Dedicated and talented educators all over the world work
hard to support language learners but often must do so within a
multi-layered context of policy. What does this look like in the
classroom and how does it affect students’ experiences?”

“We are pleased that Sarah will be continuing the important line of
inquiry she initiated in her dissertation through her Fulbright award
to Spain,” said Ann Dutton Ewbank, assistant division director for the
Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation in Teachers College.
“Sarah’s important research will expand the body of knowledge about
language policy and planning, which has immediate applications for all
language learning programs. Her work exemplifies the preparation in
socially embedded research for which Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
PhD programs prepare students.”

Newcomer has accepted a position as assistant professor of literacy
education at Washington State University at Tri-Cities this fall.

“I know that such an exciting year of teaching and research would not
be possible without the excellent classes within the language and
literacy program here at ASU,” she said. “I very much appreciate all
the faculty members who have helped me along this graduate school
journey, particularly my advisor, Aya Matsuda; my committee members,
Teresa McCarty and Carmen Martinez-Roldán; and my Fulbright advisor,
Janet Burke. I would not be receiving the Fulbright award without
their encouragement and unwavering help.”

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually
designed study/research projects or English Teaching Assistantships.
The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction
on an individual basis. Fulbrighters meet, work, live with and learn
from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences.
Matt Crum, matthew.crum at asu.edu
(602) 543-5209
Public Affairs at the West campus


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