Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Language and Community: Becoming Engaged Citizens Through Synthesizing Second Language Theory and Experiential Learning

Jenifer Onstott.

This presentation will explore the transforming nature of service learning when it is grounded in theory. A course at Pitzer College in Southern California, Language and Community: Principles and Practice of Teaching English as a Second Language, introduced undergraduates to second language acquisition (SLA) theory and its practice within the context of the local community. Students tutored ESL students at De Anza Middle School in Ontario, California (65% of whom are English language learners) for two hours per week, and then taught ESL to one of their parents at home in order to foster family literacy. Students analyzed the connections between their practical experience and SLA theory through synthesis journals and a narrative analysis in the manner of Guadalupe Valdes’ case study, Learning and Not Learning English, Latino Students in American Schools (2001).


Jenifer Onstott  (United States)
English Language Instructor
Program in American College English Modern Languages Literatures and Cultures Field Group
Pitzer College

Jenifer Onstott has taught English to multilingual students for over 20 years. She began her career by training teachers for Volunteer Vital English, a grassroots community organization, before going on to teach English to international students at the college level. She feels lucky to be able to return to the comunity through service learning.

  • Service Learning
  • Family Literacy
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Critical Analysis
Person as Subject
  • Valdes, Guadalupe

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)