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Abstract

Grounded in cultural capital and agency theory, this study examines two middle school English language learners’ (ELLs) participatory behaviors in literacy practices in the U.S. classroom. A closer examination of the ELLs’ participatory behaviors through their authentic voices is important to understand for their literacy development. The purpose of this article is to discuss the interconnection among ELLs’ agency, identity, and classroom dynamics for their language and literacy learning. The data sources include formal and informal interviews, classroom observations, and artifacts, including reading and writing projects. Findings suggest that, despite the students’ similar background of race, native language, age, gender, and length of stay in the U.S., the difference in literacy practice participation was noticeable. Classroom dynamics that focus on monoculturalism or multiculturalism appear to affect the ELLs’ different participatory behaviors and their positioning. The implication of the study is that educators pay more attention to their individual differences. It also offers educators a cultural and social space where they can activate their cultural capital and agency through the literacy activities that invite ELLs’ voices in the classroom.