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McNair Scholars Program

K'La Ruane

She/her

Education: Bachelor of Arts in cultural anthropology (May 2009)

McNair Project: Exploring Dora: Dora the Explorer's Contribution to the Discourse of Spanish/English Bilingualism in the United States (2008)

Mentor: Tiffany L. Kershner, Ph.D.

With the increasing Latino population in the United States, Spanish/English bilingual education is rapidly becoming an important issue. This can be seen in the increase of preschool oriented television geared towards teaching young viewers Spanish and encouraging Spanish/English bilingualism. Of these shows, Dora the Explorer (DTE) is one of the most prominent, reaching 17 million preschoolers worldwide. This paper examines how Dora portrays Spanish/English bilingualism, second language acquisition and Latino representation through content analysis of 20 episodes. Results indicate that Dora the Explorer presents Spanish/English bilingualism as something to be aspired towards, especially by monolingual English-speakers. As well, learning a second language is portrayed positively, but only means learning Spanish. Further, ethnicity is shown as a marker of bilingualism: most Latinos represented speak both English and Spanish. Finally, bilingual individuals are shown as teachers and translators of Spanish. In light of DTE’s socializing influence as a role model, analysis of how these views socialize viewers is a worthy endeavor for future research.