Reading Buddies: Cross-Age Tutoring as Empowering Pedagogy for Young English Language Learners

  • Kristen Moriarty

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


Globalization, and the movement of workers in the high technology industries of Silicon Valley have far reaching effects on the school systems which serve their children. This study takes place in a neighborhood public school in the heart of the area known as Silicon Valley, California, during the early implementation of the Common Core State Standards. During the time of this study, the student population in the valley was growing in number and diversity due to the impact of developments in the high technology industries in the valley, and the education system was recovering from drastic budget cuts as well as embracing a nationwide curriculum movement aimed at more standardization, high-stakes testing, and accountability. As the teacher in the role of participant observer and researcher, employing ethnographic methods of data collection, including video recordings, observations, interviews, and reflective journals and video journaling, student interactions were recorded and analyzed through the application of Bernstein’s theories of pedagogic interactions as well as sociocultural learning theory and the work of Vygotsky. The results indicate that Reading Buddies could be an example of an ‘empowering pedagogy’ which gives linguistically and socially marginalized children a voice in an educational milieu driven by high stakes testing and accountability with an emphasis on the use of English. The study highlights strategies used by young children acquiring English as an additional language to interact with and co-construct meaning of English language texts during weekly Reading Buddy sessions. Seeing the diversity found in the classrooms as a strength and benefit to the education system, this study explores how allowing space for children to bring every day knowledge, home languages, and personal experiences into literacy practices impacts their interactions with English Language texts.
Date of Award21 Mar 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMichael Donnelly (Supervisor) & Sam Carr (Supervisor)


  • cross-age tutoring
  • Bernstein
  • Vygotsky
  • Reading Buddies
  • video data
  • classification and framing
  • play
  • translanguaging
  • pedagogic relationships
  • early childhood
  • English learners
  • ethnography
  • children as co-researchers

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