Publication details [#6671]

Kissell, Loretta L. 2006. High hopes and current realities: Conceptual metaphors and meaning for English language learners at the community college. Tucson, Ariz.. 196 pp.


Community colleges play a particularly valuable role in providing both immigrant students and international visa students the opportunity to participate in higher education at affordable rates and thereby, the means by which to achieve academic success in the university system and economic success in the market. Thus, community colleges bear the profound task of developing language skills and creating positive academic experiences for all students who are learning English. This phenomenological inquiry examines how English language learners constitute meaning from their experience of learning at a large community college in the southwest United States. The researcher conducted group and individual interviews with English language learners from 13 different countries of origin and 10 different first languages. Participants included international visa students and immigrant students. Cultural capital theory, including linguistic competence, was used to explain how the perceptions of linguistic competence affect the academic experience of different English language learners. The findings suggest that although some students may possess cultural capital that advantaged them in their home countries, without commensurate linguistic competence, academic literacy, and a new cognitive model for learning that cultural capital may not be rewarded with academic success in the United States. Additionally, the findings suggest that cultural capital theory may need to be adapted to explain how it manifests itself in this student population. A second theory, conceptual theory of metaphor, specifically Lakoff & Johnson's (1999) Event Structure Metaphor, provided a cognitive linguistic framework to the analysis of the language used by participants as they described their academic experience. Using the event structure metaphor, this analysis provides some support for the universal nature of metaphorical thought. (Dissertation Abstracts)