English language learners (ELLs) are the fastest growing group of students in the United States. The purpose of this research is to help better understand the personal experiences of these students in their journey to learn English while still maintaining their Spanish roots. Much research has been done on a large scale to identify the successes and shortcomings of the American education system in supporting these immigrant ELLs. This project, however, focuses directly on the personal experience of the bilingual student in the mainstream classroom and the influence of their home and community life on the assimilation process. This case study was conducted through ethnographic research in which observations were made over the course of one year in one classroom at an international high school. These observations were supplemented by formal interviews with native Spanish speaking students (5), native English speaking students (2), faculty and staff from the same high school. This research proved that native Spanish speaking ELLs are very aware of the importance of learning English as a second language and the advantage they will have in the job market as bilingual graduates. They did not feel as though they were jeopardizing their Spanish culture or that English was being forced upon them. These, however, are the experiences of ELLs living and attending school in a community dominated by the Dominican culture and the Spanish language. These findings may have been different if the same study was conducted in a community in which native Spanish speaking students are not the majority.


Providence College


Spring 2011









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