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Passing for English Fluent: Latino Immigrant Children Masking Language Proficiency


Lilia D. Monzó is assistant professor of education in the College of Educational Studies at Chapman University. She completed her doctoral program at the University of Southern California. She studies the cultural productions of Latino immigrant children and families and the educational and schooling contexts in which they engage (

Robert Rueda is a professor in the area of psychology in education at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. He completed his doctoral work at the University of California, Los Angeles, in educational psychology and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition at the University of California, San Diego. His research has centered on the sociocultural basis of motivation, learning, and instruction, with a focus on reading and literacy in English learners; students in at-risk conditions; and teaches courses in learning and motivation (


This article describes passing for English fluent among Latino immigrant children. A two-year ethnography of eight Latino immigrant families was conducted in which fifth-grade children were followed in home, school, and community contexts. This article presents passing as a consequence of U.S. race relations. Their reasons for presenting themselves as English fluent suggest a sophisticated awareness of the power and status of English in this country and a clear link between language and identity. [bilingualism, English language learners, Latino students, identity]