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Volume 12 Number 2, Summer 2015, Pages 1-154   


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Damunwha Students' Funds of Knowledge in English: A Qualitative Case Study in the South Korean Context

    Miso Kim, Tae-Young Kim


This study explores the interface between multicultural, or Damunwha, students' households and English learning in the Korean context. Korea is a relatively homogeneous nation in terms of its ethnic and cultural diversity. In this context, students whose parent(s) are not Korean are labeled as Damunwha students. Despite their minority position, the students have accumulated multilingual and multicultural funds of knowledge, the experience and culture unique to their households. Their use of funds of knowledge in English learning was analyzed from an ecological perspective, which emphasizes learners' active agency in learning. Two junior-high school students from international marriage families and two other students from immigrant worker families participated in this study. Qualitative data analysis indicated that their funds of knowledge for English were twofold: their home languages and connections to home language communities. Their funds of knowledge were significantly influenced by family relationships and socio-economic status. The funds of knowledge contributed to the students' English learning only if the students realized the meaningfulness of their funds of knowledge. The study has implications for increasing the role of multicultural education in general curriculum and building conducive home-school relationship by making home visits.

Keywords: international marriage, immigrant worker, Damunwha, funds of knowledge, English learning resources, ecological perspective