Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Shelley K. Taylor


This critical ethnographic case study draws on Indigenous and minority students' process of learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in Mexico. The study specifically focuses on students who enrolled in a program called A wager with the Future. The aim of the study is to identify and understand contributing factors in these students’ struggles with the process of learning English by focusing on factors that influence their investment in EFL. The research is framed by (critical) applied linguistics and post-colonial theories that favour the integration of an understanding of these students’ socio historical context in their learning of English, and question (unequal) power relationships between languages and cultures in Mexico. The methodology was designed to ensure trustworthiness by adopting multiple data collection techniques, and to decolonize the research process by using participatory methods that featured researcher/participant coanalysis of the data. On a macro level, findings show that students enrolled in the program experience a relationship with English that is rooted in Mexico’s colonial legacies (as expressed through discrimination in the EFL classroom), which has an impact on their subjectivities; specifically, they feel afraid and inferior in the EFL classroom. On a micro level, the programming adopted in the university’s Language Department does not draw on diverse students’ multi-competences in other languages. Nonetheless, some Indigenous students manage to invest in EFL by creating imagined communities, and appropriating English through the creation of autonomous pluralistic language learning strategies.