Dissertation

English Learners' Interaction in Elementary Classrooms And Its Implications for English Language Acquisition

This mixed design descriptive study examined the school experience of four 4th-grade and four 5th-grade students designated as California English Language Development Test (CELDT) Intermediate level. The conceptual framework of the study drew from research related to (a) second language acquisition; (b) conversational language vs. academic language; (c) relationship of oral language competency and literacy development; (d) academic language proficiency; (e) language gaps; (f) stages of language development; (g) supportive learning environments; and (h) methodological precedents. The qualitative component was based on the EL Student Shadowing Observation Tool, an instrument that provided data about English learners' instructional classroom experience. This study revealed that English Learners (ELs) received few linguistic opportunities in classrooms, mostly listening to the teacher and other students, whereas teachers did most of the talking. An independent-samples t test was conducted to determine the difference in mean scores on English Language Arts (ELA) Benchmark 3 and Benchmark 4 between EL and English-only (EO) students. Results indicated that there was not a statistical significance between EL students and EO students. This dissertation concluded with a discussion of the implications of (a) increased opportunities for oral development of academic language; (b) structured observation as a catalyst for professional development; (c) factors that enhance teachers' observational skills; and (d) the role of district-sponsored professional development.

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