Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Sharon K. Deckert, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

David I. Hanauer, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Nancy Hayward, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Anne Pomerantz, Ph.D.


This dissertation explores how teaching Spanish and English as second languages in the United States has been traditionally defined, the common assumptions that are held about each context, and the influence these assumptions have on instructional practices and student learning. In order to explore how teaching English and Spanish is constructed in a local context, I employ a Foucauldian discourse analytical approach in conjunction with ethnographic methods to provide detailed descriptions of an Intensive English Program (IEP) and a Spanish Program at one university. I then contextualize this particular site within the larger professional and societal discourses surrounding the instruction of both languages. My study revealed that by comparing the discourses and practices of both contexts participants make contradictory and limiting assumptions concerning student goals and motivations as well as curricular organization and instructional practices in both settings. My research illustrates how participant interpretations of each context are highly influenced by what has traditionally been considered "normal" for teaching Spanish and English as second languages. While some contextual factors contributed to these differences, these divisions are essentially arbitrary, and potentially limiting to how we conceptualize teaching and learning in both settings.