Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum & Instruction

First Advisor

Luciana C. de Oliveira

Second Advisor

Trish Morita-Mullaney

Committee Member 1

Judith T. Lysaker

Committee Member 2

Tony Silva

Committee Member 3

Margie Berns


The purpose of this study was to investigate the discourse of English Language Learners’ writing instruction in a third and fifth grade classroom. Indiana has experienced great growth in the population of English Language Learners (ELLs) in the past ten years, with this school district sharing a similar trend with an increase of the number of ELLs in this schools’ population. This research took place in two classrooms with a high percentage of ELLs, utilizing a case study approach with teachers’ classroom discourse being analyzed through both a qualitative analysis and a Systemic Functional Linguistics discourse analysis. The findings of this research suggest that there are a number of factors that influence the discourse of writing for ELLs, including teacher ideologies, outside assessments and that these directly affect how instruction is implemented. The discourse analysis points out problematic patterns of discourse, and potential difficulties in understanding for ELLs. Several implications are suggested, including alternate approaches to writing that implement elements of language highlighted in the discourse analysis, and implications for future teacher preparation.