Date of Award

May 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Reading and Language Arts


Marcelle M. Haddix


Kenyan Education, Language, linguistic imperialism, Multilingualism, Post-colonial education, Teacher Identity

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities



This qualitative interview study explored how transnational Kenyan teachers experienced marginalization of their African languages and identities in both the Kenyan and the United States contexts, but reclaimed those languages and identities as important assets in their teaching of English language. The study asked: What are the post-colonial language and identity experiences of transnational Kenyan teachers in graduate education programs in the United States in the following domains: a) their primary and secondary schooling in Kenya b) their teacher preparation in Kenya c) their teaching experiences in Kenya; and d) their graduate education in the United States?

Post-colonial theories and linguistic imperialism theories provided a lens for understanding participants’ language and identity experiences in Kenya, a post-colonial African nation that adopted English as the language of instruction in schools following independence, and in the United States, where issues of language, race, and power are intrinsically connected. Data sources included transcripts from fifty open-ended qualitative interviews, which were analyzed using thematic analysis to identify themes within and across participants’ experiences.

Two major themes emerged from the analysis. The first major theme was marginalization. Participants’ African languages and identities were marginalized in both the Kenyan and the United States contexts. However, in various ways, participants resisted this marginalization. The second major theme was that participants (re)claimed their African languages and identities as assets, both in their personal lives, and their professional lives as teachers and future teacher educators. These findings have implications for literacy research and practice in Kenyan education, as well as for educational research and practice in U.S. universities.


Open Access