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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

B. Jean Longmire

First Committee Member

Maureen Siera

Second Committee Member

Susan Eskridge

Third Committee Member

Mari G. Irvin

Fourth Committee Member

Charles Parchment


Limited English proficient (LEP) students have been falling behind academically and are dropping out of school in record numbers. This "educational" problem in turn has created serious societal problems including unemployment and increased illegal activities. Are there methods that can help LEP students achieve school success and halt this cycle of failure? To discover what works, the following study was designed to provide a model for the successful engagement of students who do not speak the language of their teacher. In this report, instructional activities are described as experienced by four new immigrants in an elementary school classroom. The subjects of these observations were chosen from two language groups and paired by educational and language backgrounds and opposite gender. One pair of children were Spanish speaking and were in the third grade; the other pair spoke Vietnamese and were in fifth grade. The research was designed as a multiple case ethnography and involved classroom observations over a term of three months. Video and audio tapes were transcribed and added to classroom observations and interviews to determine patterns of interactive language learning. It was discovered that different classroom activities promoted distinct kinds of language practice. Whole group choral response routines encouraged the practice of linguistic systems of English, primarily syntax and phonology, whereas small group practices emphasized the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, and vocabulary acquisition. The use of varied materials which appealed to different senses and modalities of learning enhanced comprehension of content themes. Finally, the make-up of student groups influenced language use. Heterogeneous groups formed with children from different language backgrounds encouraged the use of English across content areas. Additional opportunities for lexical development as well as practice of letter names and sounds were provided in homogeneous groups. In both types of groups single word responses predominated and key vocabulary was emphasized. The findings of this study suggest a model for activities to encourage participation of LEP students. This participation can lead to practice of language skills as well as comprehension of grade-level academics. This report is offered to help guide teachers planning instruction for elementary school children who do not speak English.



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