Bilingual and Literacy Studies Faculty Publications and Presentations

“They Didn't Teach Us Well”: Mexican-Origin Students Speak Out About Their Readiness for College Literacy

Document Type


Publication Date



This study reports on Mexican-origin university students' perceptions of their K–12 literacy experiences and preparation for college-level reading. Participants were first-generation college students from Spanish-dominant homes enrolled in a reading-intensive course at a four-year Hispanic-serving institution. The study was conducted as part of an initiative to assist predominantly low-income, Latino/Hispanic students enrolled in entry-level reading-intensive courses, with the goal of improving postsecondary persistence. Data consisted of individual interviews and participants' language and literacy autobiographies and were analyzed from an ecology-of-literacy perspective. Findings included contrasts between home and school literacy forms and practices, differences between high school and college as learning environments, linguistic discrimination experienced at school, and negative ideologies associated with Spanish as a barrier to the development of strong literacy skills in English. Suggestions are offered for improving academic literacy instruction for Mexican-origin youths.


© 2016 International Literacy Association

Publication Title

Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy