Facilitating the Transition of Limited English Proficient Students From Their Native Language to English

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this research was to learn how teachers, school division policies, and community influences facilitated the transition of middle school Limited English Proficient (LEP) students from their native language to English. The research questions are: (1) How did the content area teachers influence the LEP student with learning English? (2) How did the ESL teacher influence the LEP student with learning English? (3) How did the school division policies influence the LEP student with learning English? (4) Which community influences assisted the LEP student with learning English?

ESL students from one school district were randomly selected from a list of students currently enrolled the middle school level three ESL program. Selection criteria included: (1) middle school student, (2) level three English proficiency, (3) Spanish speaking as the primary language of the student, and (4) enrollment for five consecutive years within the school system. Individual interviews were conducted with students, regular education teachers and ESL teachers selected to participate in the study. Data were analyzed using the Constant Comparative Method (Maykut & Morehouse, 1994).

Findings revealed the content area teacher assisted the student by using a variety of instructional strategies including small group assistance, games and hands on activities, use of visuals and articulation. The ESL tutor assisted the student by using games, hands on activities, and visuals. The tutors also focused on grade level curriculum, provided testing assistance and positive reinforcement. The school division policies influenced the student by structuring policies to assist with proper placement and success of the LEP student. These policies include scheduling, grading, screening, and communication with parents. The community influenced the LEP student by the language spoken in the home, family and extended family assistance, and parent involvement with the school.

As a result of the research, recommendations for changes to the current ESL program were suggested. These recommendations include increased parent and community involvement, content area teacher training including teaching strategies, revision and distribution of the ESL policy guide, and formation of a steering committee including parents, teachers, administrators, community members and ESL coordinator.



LEP, Programs, Instruction, ESL