In-between generation Vietnamese American teachers' experiences in K-12 education: A postcolonial narrative inquiry



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The 21 century is witnessing the unprecedent human migration. With her economic, cultural and political power and her overseas war involvement, the United States of America has been receiving flux of immigrants over the time. The drastic changes in student demographics, languages, cultural backgrounds demand the reform in teacher preparation and recruitment to reflect the diversity of the student body. However, ethnic students have been falling behind on the education chart. Vietnamese descendants have been reported to belong to the low achievement group. Among the reported causes, the lack of Vietnamese American teachers was confirmed to affect the student learning outcomes. Therefore, this research aimed to explore whether Vietnamese descendants were attracted to get into the teaching career and how they were prepared to teach in the multicultural and multilinguistic school settings. In this narrative inquiry dissertation, I explored the lived experiences of the 1.5 generation Vietnamese Americans throughout their K-12 and college years. My foci were to investigate the events of their life stories to identify the factors that improved or hindered their learning, and to record their transformation process to become the teachers for the diverse body of students. Phoebe - a business teacher, and Vincent - a Math teacher were the two participants in my research. To help me frame my research direction, I employed the postcolonial theory to guide my foci in my exploration. At a micro, practical level, I adopted the concept of investment. Narrative was my main method to collect and analyze my participants’ stories. The findings were the heart-wrenching stories about the struggles, discrimination, disrupted family, lack of resources and poverty-stricken conditions that my participants encountered during their growing-up. Their stories also offered hope and perseverance that other immigrants and educators can learn from. These stories shed light on various aspects that provided the implications for curriculum reform for immigrant children and for teacher education redesign.

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Teacher Identity, Language Investment, Immigrant Experiences