Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language

First Advisor

Eric Friginal

Second Advisor

Diane Belcher

Third Advisor

Stephanie Lindemann

Fourth Advisor

Francis Hult


This study explores the development of a new English language support program (ELSP) between two international educational partners. Inspired by the renewed interest to investigate ELSP development holistically (Bhowmik & Kim, 2018; Dafouz & Smit, 2020; Fenton-Smith & Gurney, 2016; Pennington & Hoekje, 2010), this study pulls from four years of research in the United States and China. ELSP development has always included elements of institutional and national policies, administrative structures, and curriculum development; however within English language teaching literature, the latter dominates, resulting in an underdeveloped description of the process as a whole (Johnston & Peterson, 1994; Pennington & Hoekje, 2010). This study departs from this trend through viewing ELSP development as a social action; thus, the actions taken by all individuals, including administrators, faculty, and students, as meaningful units of analysis (Hult, 2016; Scollon & Scollon, 2004; Wells & Wong, 2012).

Building on studies that analyze complex, multilingual education settings from an ecological perspective, (Bhalla, 2012; Bhattacharya et al., 2007; Hult, 2010; Menken & Garcia, 2010a), the ELSP development process is investigated through three stages: establishment, implementation, and evaluation. At each stage, I move through the societal, community, and individual scale to explore discourses processes circulating through program development. To access the social level, I analyzed relevant newspaper articles, publicly available language policies, and university internationalization plans to uncover the positive associations with university global engagement along with the growing political tension between the two partner countries. Then discourses at the community level were investigated through the formal and informal relationships between the colleges and how administrators within navigated power differentials to advance the internationalization agreement. Finally, at the individual scale, ethnographic observations and interviews addressed participants’ educational practices, classroom interactions, and teacher-training to demonstrate how individuals both adopted the discourses of internationalization and the necessity of English, but also acted as their own agents to resist or support the development process based on past experiences and habitus. Through adopting an ecological approach to ELSP development that includes tracing discourse across multiple stages and scales, this study contributes to a deeper understanding of the various factors that mediate the process of creating successful, sustainable ELSPs.

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