Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

Spring 4-2013


Quadros, S. D.M. (2013). The case of three Karen families: LIteracy practices in a family literacy classroom. MA Thesis, University of Nebraska.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Masters of Arts, Major: Teaching, Learning & Teacher Education, Under the Supervision of Professor Loukia Sarroub. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Sabrina D. M. Quadros


The lack of research in understanding the literacy practices of Karen families, influencing their schooling performance and language acquisition, leave professionals in the educational field limited in their knowledge about the forms of engagement of these families into American schooling. To better understand literacy practices in which Karen families engage, in this case study the author explores some of the literacy practices of Karen families when at school and in their homes. The author observed three Karen adult/parent learners during a period of three months, in an ESL family literacy program at Kennedy Elementary, in Lincoln, Nebraska. One interview with each of the participants, as well as three home visits, were also performed. Four core themes emerged from 42 instances of the researcher’s participation and observation of literacy practices. Literacy practices included adult/parent learners’ engagement with memorization and their literacy practices in the community, parents’ literacy practices through reading texts aloud to improve their speaking skills, and parents’ use of computers to engage in literacy in America. These case study experiences are discussed in light of the sociocultural theory of literacy models as a form of these Karen parents to engage in their learning processes at school, as well as in their children’s schooling. Furthermore, considerable issues in literacy and literacy adaptation are addressed, reflectively collaborating with cultural studies with the Karen population, adult and language teachers involved in literacy practices, and theorists in the sociocultural field of literacy.

Advisor: Loukia Sarroub