Edwards, Elizabeth Carr
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The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a teacher implementing culturally grounded vocabulary teaching and learning with African American students whose home language differed from mainstream English. This was a descriptive qualitative case study investigation, and three students were selected through purposeful sampling for in-depth study. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method and came from eight sources: observational notes, audio-recorded lessons, interviews with student participants, interviews with teacher participant, notes of meetings with teacher participant, e-mail exchanges with teacher participant, lesson plans, and students’ written work. Six themes were identified from the inductive data analysis: students socially constructed word knowledge through student-to-student transactions, students’ preexisting knowledge of and ability to code switch for writing purposes expanded, students’ preexisting knowledge of and ability to code switch for speaking purposes expanded, students independently learned vocabulary and applied strategies that were taught, students were more motivated to learn vocabulary when their culture was honored and used as a vehicle for learning, and students’ academic learning was influenced by the personal connections they made with the teacher. In addition, there were three general topics that cut across the six main themes which included motivation, cultural identity, and independent application of vocabulary strategies. Findings of this study indicate that by coupling together widely researched methods of vocabulary instruction with culturally aware pedagogical practice the result is enhanced motivation and student interest in words, all while students are able to maintain their culture identity.