Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Access Restrictions


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Wesely, Pamela M

First Committee Member

Plakans, Lia

Second Committee Member

Johnson, David C

Third Committee Member

Devane, Ben

Fourth Committee Member

Shea, Christine


Students learning English at school and another language at home comprise a rapidly growing segment of U.S. student populations. Language learners can benefit from using technology, but do not always use it advantageously (Katz & Gonzalez, 2016). Many studies address technology’s scholastic use, but few investigate how bilinguals use digital technology at home (Hinostroza, Matamala, Labbé, Claro, & Cabello, 2015), or what it means to them (Toboso-Martin, 2013).

This qualitative multiple-case study focuses on the intersection between bilinguals, intergenerational learning, and digital technology. Specifically, it studies how bilingual, Hispanic family members interact around information and communication technology (ICT), and their attitudes toward ICT. Language patterns emerged during paired ICT use.

Data were gathered from six Hispanic, bilingual families in the Midwestern U.S. through interviews, observation, and tasks where intergenerational pairs were asked to teach each other about ICT. This study adds to the literature on bilingualism, digital literacy, sociocultural theory, and intergenerational learning.

Findings included parental ICT policies of vigilance, access, and trust. Findings support arguments that the digital divide persists as digital literacy. ICT both impeded and promoted intergenerational learning. Findings shed light on bilinguals’ contextualized linguistic needs, and echoed Vygotsky’s writings on gesture, internalized speech, and serial thought processing. English dominated as the language of ICT, but participants used Spanish and English to contextualize problems and negotiate meaning. Findings affirmed factors affecting the quality of ICT use. The author argues that Grosjean’s Complementarity Principle can be applied to digital literacy. Implications for parents, teachers, and researchers are given.

Key words: bilingualism, families, intergenerational learning, information and communication technology (ICT), digital technology, digital literacy, home language practices, sociocultural theory, translanguaging


bilingualism, digital literacy, digital technology, family, information and communication technology, intergenerational learning


xii, 255 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 205-233).


Copyright © 2018 Wyatt Brockbank