Investigating a High School ESL Student's Concept of Academic English


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Investigating a High School ESL Student's Concept of Academic English
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1 online resource (164 p.)
Vargas,Stacey Ann
University of Florida
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Gainesville, Fla.
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Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( M.A.E.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Curriculum and Instruction (ISC), Teaching and Learning
Committee Chair:
De Jong, Ester J
Committee Members:
Coady, Maria R


Subjects / Keywords:
academic -- ell -- english -- esl -- esol -- secondary -- spanish -- teaching
Teaching and Learning -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Curriculum and Instruction (ISC) thesis, M.A.E.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Academic English has become a widely used term within the fields of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Education and Second Language Acquisition. However, scholars still debate the ways in which the theory of academic English is conceptualized and operationalized. This qualitative study contributes to the discussion by investigating how a high school English language learner (ELL) conceptualizes English language he encounters in his content-area classes. Over the past three decades, many studies (Carhill, Suarez-Orozco, & Paez, 2008; Collier, 1987; Gibbons & Lancaster, 2006) have been conducted on the assumption that there is an academic register of English that can be isolated, described, and studied. However, there has been debate about what features constitute the academic English register and a lack of research on the ways in which ESL students themselves perceive of language in the classroom. The perspective of an eleventh-grade Hispanic ESL student was investigated through the use of semi-structured interviews, observations, and document analysis. A constructivist perspective was taken to analyzing those data. It was found that the student perceived of four major features of language associated with the academic environment: academic vocabulary, long utterances, content-specific communication styles, and abstract thinking. The academic achievements of ESL students in the US fall significantly behind their native English-speaking peers, especially with regard to standardized test scores and high school graduation rates (Carhill, Suarez-Orozco, & Paez, 2008). Understanding what significance the features of academic English have to the process of second language acquisition may help guide decisions regarding curriculum and policies associated with ESOL education and teacher preparation. It may also aid in the goal of defining the features of language proficiency that are most significant to increasing ELL academic achievement in English-only classrooms.
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by Stacey Ann Vargas.
Thesis (M.A.E.)--University of Florida, 2011.
Adviser: De Jong, Ester J.

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2 2011 Stacey Ann Vargas


3 To my mom, who constant ly inspires me to be a better person


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank my advisors, Dr. de Jong and Dr. Coady for all of the suppo rt, guidance and patience they offered me on the way to completing my thesis Additionally, I would like to thank my family for always believing in me and encouraging my achievements, and special thanks to my husband, David Vargas, for his constant suppor t and reassurance during the difficult times.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 8 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 9 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ ........................... 10 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 13 Background ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 13 The Theory of Academic English ................................ ................................ ............ 13 Decision to Explore the Topic ................................ ................................ ................. 14 Aims ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 15 Statement of Problem ................................ ................................ ............................. 16 Research Questions ................................ ................................ ............................... 17 Purpose ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 17 Significance ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 17 Concluding Remar ks ................................ ................................ ............................... 18 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ .......................... 20 Background ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 20 The Theory of Academic E nglish ................................ ................................ ............ 20 Distinguishing the Academic from the Social Register ................................ ..... 21 How the BICS CALP Framework Has Been Applied ................................ ........ 24 Variations in the Theory of Academic English ................................ .................. 27 Objections to the BICS CALP Distinction ................................ ......................... 29 Need for further Investigation into Academic English ................................ ............. 31 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 32 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 34 Background ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 34 Theoretical Basis ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 34 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 35 Obtaining Permission ................................ ................................ ....................... 35 Research Setting ................................ ................................ .............................. 36 Research Participant ................................ ................................ ........................ 38 Reciprocity: Establishing rapport ................................ ................................ ...... 39


6 Data Collection Methods ................................ ................................ ......................... 39 Primary Data: Semi Structured Interviews ................................ ........................ 40 The Interview Process ................................ ................................ ...................... 40 Secondary Data: Classroom Observations ................................ ....................... 41 Secondary Data: Document Analysis ................................ ............................... 41 Data Analysis Methods ................................ ................................ ........................... 42 Theoretical Basis ................................ ................................ .............................. 42 Process of Data Analysis and Reduction ................................ .......................... 42 Limitations of the Study ................................ ................................ ........................... 43 Sampling Size ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 43 Generalizability ................................ ................................ ................................ 44 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ 44 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 45 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 45 4 FINDINGS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 46 Opening Remarks ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 46 Feature s of Academic Language ................................ ................................ ............ 46 Academic V ocabulary ................................ ................................ ....................... 46 Long U tterances ................................ ................................ ............................... 53 Abstract T hinking ................................ ................................ .............................. 55 Content Specific Communication S tyles ................................ ........................... 57 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 61 5 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 63 Opening Remarks ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 63 ................................ ................................ 63 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 70 6 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ................................ ....................... 72 Opening Remarks ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 72 Summary of the Findings ................................ ................................ ........................ 72 Significance ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 72 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 73 Recommendations for Future Research ................................ ................................ 78 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 78 APPENDIX A INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD PROTOCOL FORM ................................ ........ 80 B PARENTAL INFORMED CONSENT ................................ ................................ ...... 83 C VERBAL CONS ENT OF MINOR STUDENT SCRIPT ................................ ............ 84


7 D INTER VIEW TRANSCRIPTS ................................ ................................ .................. 85 E OBSERVATION FIELD NOTES ................................ ................................ ........... 115 F DOCUMENT ANALYSIS ................................ ................................ ....................... 133 G TRANSCRIPT CONVENTIONS ................................ ................................ ............ 159 H CODING TRAIL ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 160 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 1 62 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 164


8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 2 1 Features of academic English as described by researchers in the fields of Education and Second Language Acquisition. ................................ ................... 33


9 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 4 1 Features of Academic English Described by a High School ESL Student .......... 62


10 LIST OF ABBREVIATION S ELL English Language Learner ESL English as a Second Language ESOL English to Speakers of Other Languages L1 First Language L2 Second Language LEP Limited English Proficiency NES Native English Speaking SLA Second Language Acquisition


11 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Education INVESTIGATING A HIGH SCHOOL ESL STUDENT S CONCEPT OF ACADEMIC ENGLISH By Stacey Ann Vargas August 2011 Chair: Ester de Jong Major: C urriculum and Instruction Academic English has become a widely used term within the field s of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ES O L) Education and Second Language Acquisition However, scholars still debate the ways in which the theory of academic English is conceptualized and operationalized. This qualitative study contributes to the discussion by investigating how a high school English language learner (E LL) conceptualizes English language he encounters in his content area classes. Over the past three decades, many studies (Carhill, Suarez Orozco, & Paez, 2008; Collier, 1987; Gibbons & Lancaster, 2006) have been conducted on the assumption that there is an academic register of English that can be isolated, described, and studied. However, there has been debate about what features constitute the academic English register and a lack o f research on the ways in which ESL students themselves perceive of language in the classroom The perspective of an eleventh grade Hispanic ESL student was investigated through the use of semi structured interviews, observations, and document analysis A constructivist perspective was ta ken to analyzing those data I t was found t hat the student perceived of four major features of language associated with the academic


12 environment : academic vocabulary, long utterances, content specific communication styles, and abstract thinking. The academic achievements of ESL students in the US f all significantly behind their native English speaking peers, especially with regard to standardized test scores and high school graduation rates ( Carhill, Suarez Orozco, & Paez, 2008) Understanding what significance the features of academic English have to the process of second language acquisition may help guide decisions regarding curriculum and policies associated with ESOL education and teacher preparation It may also aid in the goal of defining the features of language proficiency that are most sign ificant to increasing ELL academic achievement in English only classroom s


13 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Background Students learning English as their second language in public schools must be provided equal access to a quality education. In order for this to ha ppen, the academic needs, the language learning needs, and the process of second language acquisition must be thoroughly understood. The measure of this attainment is in the academic achievement of English Language Learner (ELL) students. Currently in the U.S., ELL behind those of their native English speaking peers ( Ca rhill, Suarez Orozco, & Paez, 2008; Florida Departmen t of Education, 2011 ) This study works towards und academic English language in the classroom It describes the features of academic language as a language acquisition (SLA) Knowledg educators, researchers, and policy makers to have a more complete understanding of the SLA process. The academic needs of the students can be better understood and features of language use that are most important t o EL L stud can be revealed. The knowledge gained can also be utilized in making decisions regarding ELL curriculum and policy choices The Theory of Academic English Educational scholars have hypothesized that there exists a register of language that is primarily used in the academic environment (Carhill, Suarez Orozco, & Paez, 2008; Collier 1987; Cummins 1981; Cummins 2000; Gibbons & Lancaster, 2006). The


14 theory is generally framed around a particular register of English language use that is necessary for E L only classes and on standardized tests, tho ugh the particular features that define academic Eng lish can vary widely The theory of academic English has gained a great deal of acceptance within the acad emic community (Carhill, Suarez Orozco, & Paez, 2008; Collier, 1987; Gibbons & Lancaster, 2006), though there still exists a need to describe what factors specifically define academic English as a distinct register. It is also important to know what role t hese features might play in the second language acquisition process of ELLs There has been a lack of research investigating whether secondary level students themselves might perceive of such a register. The study reported here utilizes a qualitative appro ach to investigating the perceptions of an immigrant Hispanic high school English as a Second Language ( ESL ) student. The features of language that the student uses to define academic English will be compared to features of academic language as defined by researchers in the fields of education and second language acquisition. Decision to Explore the Topic I chose this topic of research during time I spent tutoring high school ESL students and observing them struggle with the language demands of their conten t classes. Many of the students I worked with appeared to be highly proficient in English used for mainstream content area classes that they began to show signs of diffic ulty For instance, one ELL student who appeared to be highly proficient with speaking and listening in conversational English was observed in a science classroom. The directions given by the teacher were to take notes of a lesson on ecosystems. The


15 studen t appeared to be actively listening to the instructor and yet was not observed taking notes. This went on for the entire class period. When the student was later asked what s lesson was not particularly demanding, though some content specific terms were used. However I also noticed res were often highly complex. The teacher frequently used very long utterances with complex references, wherein there was a lot of time between when the subject of a sentence was introduced and the information that elaborated upon it. The teacher also did not provide very much contextual support beyond a written outline of the lecture that was displayed on the overhead projector. I thought at that time that the kind of language use the teacher was displaying might be related to a phenomenon of language use occurring uniquely in the classroom environment. I wondered if it could be considered an instance of academic language use. These questions informed the rational for the present study. Aims The principal aim s of this research study are to explore the stu erceptions of academic English, and to discover if there are any features of language that students may perceive as being closely related to the academic environment. The study seeks to contribute to a more complete understanding of the second lang uage acquisition process, especially as it is associated with ESL academic achievement. The ultimate s


16 Statement of Problem As a whole, ESL students in the United States fall behind their grade level p eers on standardized tests and in other measures of academic performance. High school graduation rates of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students provide an alarming example of this trend. Drawing on data from the National Center for Educational Statist ics (2004), Carhill, Suarez language minority students who spoke English with difficulty did not complete high school compared to 31% of students from language minority homes who spoke English without difficulty and only 10% of monolingual English ESL students represent an increasingly large percentage of the overall student population in U.S. schools. According to data from the U.S. Department of Education age chi ldren (children ages 5 17) who spoke a language other than English at home rose from 4.7 to 11.2 million between 1980 and 2009, or represent a significant disparity an d point to a need to improve the academic success rates of ESL students in the U.S If educators and policymakers are to be successful in raising academic achievement of ELLs, they will need to better understand the multitude of factors involved in their s English classes (Cummins 2000). As such, educators must have a thorough understanding of what constitutes and defines language proficien cy. Therefore, if there is in fact a distinct register of English language that is primarily encountered in schools, academic language, then it is critical that we uncover it and seek to fully understand the nature of it.


17 Research Questions What are the h igh school ESL languag e that is used in English only content area classes ? Does the student perceive of certain features of language as being closely associated with the academic environment? How do the to current theories of academic English that have been put forth by researchers ? language acquisition? Purpose The purpose of this research study is to further understanding of the nature of second language acquisition (SLA), specifically the acquisition of academic language of language use in the classroom and his experiences with second language acqui sition. The findings of the study are targeted at educators and policymakers, to inform their decision making regarding ESL students experiences and perceptions of language use in the classroom can assist in the creation of appr opriate and successful instr uctional programs for ELLs. It also works to expand upon research related to the theory of academic English, by taking into account Significance ESL students often fall significantly behind their nativ e English speaking peers, especially on standardized tests, such as the FCAT. For instance, according to data reported by the Florida Department of Education (2011), in 2010, 179,729 10th graders in Florida took the reading portion of the FCAT exam. A tota l of 60% of those students passed that portion of the exam, while only 14% of ELL students passed. Standardized


18 exams such as the FCAT are normed on native speakers. These exams may in turn result in an inaccurate measurements of the academic knowledge and the intellectual potential of ESL students. Cummins (2000) furthers the scope of this dilemma, asserting es that are The academic success of all students, in particular emphasis on standardized test scores, is of increasing importance at the local and national levels. This is happ ening because standardized test scores are being linked to the funding of individual schools and districts, as well as decisions for teacher retention. Therefore, optimizing the language acquisition process and overall academic success of ESL students is i mportant to the success of the system, especially since ELL represent a fast growing percentage of the population. Low scores for the majority of ELL students in a particular school or district can significantly lower their averages. Therefore, teachers, a dministrators and policymakers are highly motivated to improve the rates of their ELLs academic achievement. Concluding Remarks Mor e research is needed in to fully understand the second language acquisition process and to be able to optimize the process fo r ESL students. Educators and by u nderstanding how ESL student s experience and conceptualize language use in the classroom environment It is accepted by some scholars ( Carhill, Suarez Orozco, & Paez, 2008; Collier 1987; Cummins 1981; Cummins 2000 ; Gibbons & Lancaster, 2006) and debated by others (MacSwan & Rolstad, 2003; Aukerman, 2007) that ther e does


19 indeed exist a distinct register of English language being used within t he cla ssroom that is in some ways different from what is acquired in environments outside the classroom. The precise definition and implications of the academic register still come into question with many scholars. T he findings of this research study seek to hel p make the understanding of English language registers more complete, by considering the


20 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Background Over the last three decades, the topic of academic English has been widely discussed and d ebated in the fields of education and second language acquisition. The topic came into the forefront of educational research primarily following the work of James Cummins in 1979. At that time, Cummins began refining a theoretical framework for understandi ng the difference between, what was then termed, basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS) and cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP). Cummins theory describes two distinct registers of language BISC and CALP The theory of academic Englis h has been taken as true by some researchers ( Carhill, Suarez Orozco, & Paez, 2008; Collier 1987; Cummins 1981; Cummins 2000; Gibbons & Lancaster, 2006) while others still debate its existence as a distinctive register of language (Aukerman, 2007; MacSwan & Rolstad, 2003) Many scholars have built little research has actually been done to define what specifically is meant by the term 06). This study investigates whether the student describes a register of English that might be in some ways parallel the theory of academic English described in research Chapter 1 will provide the historical and conceptual basis upon which the study was g rounded The Theory of Academic English The following revie w of literature is organized according to its relationship to the seminal works of Cummins (1981) While acknowledging that he was not the first researcher to investigate the existence of academic English, this focus has been


21 chosen because his theoretical position has become highly influential within the study of ESL education and second language acquisition (SLA). Chapter 1 will examine the works of other scholars, some who m have utilized features of the theory in their own work ( Carhill, Suarez Orozco, & Paez, 2008; Collier, 1987; Gibbons & Lancaster, 2006 ) those who have conceptualize d it differently, as well as those who have dis agreed with it (Aukerman, 2007; MacSwan & Rolstad, 2003) Distingu ishing the Academic from the Social R egister Cummins (1981) asserts that for academic achievement to happen students must achieve a level of Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) sufficient to the academic environment, as well as proficiency with social communication or Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) He describes certain features of language proficiency that distinguish the social register and BICS from the academic register and CALP. Cummins conceptualizes CALP as the register of language proficiency involved in processing decontextualized and cognitively demanding linguistic information CALP is juxtaposed to BICS, which refers to linguistic skills needed to communicate in everyday conversations, such as when students are on the playground. He described BICS as those skills needed in communicative situations that are highly contextualized and not significantly cognitively demanding (Cummins, 1981). CALP is often needed in the academic environment to successfully complete literacy tasks such as reading and writing, and for h igher order thinkin g activities Both BISC and CALP skills play an important role in academic achievement. Neither one by itself is seen as sufficient. Cummins (1981) points out that the measures of cognitive de mand and the amount of context emb eddedness of a linguistic event. The terms BICS and CALP


22 describe opposite sides of the intersection of these two continua. There is a developmental aspect to the continuum of cognitive demand. As the learner becomes more familiar with a particular linguistic task or activity, the cognitive demand involved in performing it lessens Over time, tasks that previously required intense concentration become automated and shift toward the less cognitively demanding side of the con tinuum. Cummins conceptualized CALP as a skill that spans across the various languages a person may speak. In other words, if a person is skilled in the academic register of one language, their skill will carry over somewhat to any languages they may subs equently acquire. In his article, Schooling and Language Minority Students Cummins (1981) aligns his framework with the Common Underlying Proficiency (CUP) model, as part of his Interdependence Hypothesis. He implies that there is a relationship between s English and cognitive skills as measured in their L2 (Cummins, 1981 ). This is because they are not two separate sets of skills. When a new language is learned the person may or may not already have a foundational knowledge of CALP. While analyzing over 400 records of teacher and school psychologist referral forms taken from a school in Canada, Cummins noticed ESL students when compared to their native English speaking (NES) peer s were disproportionately labeled as learning disabled or simply lazy by s chool psychologists and teachers In the reports there was a common theme l ow expectation s for the ESL achievement Cummins felt that many of the ESL student s had been incorrectly labeled with cognitive deficiencies, but that their academic difficulties could be better


23 understood as lack of proficiency with the academic English register or CALP (Cummins, 1981). Conceptualizing this distinction is important to ESL e ducation, because it allows academic proficiency. Cummins warns that misconceptions about the nature of progress (Cummins 1981). Students may be held back a grade, identified for special education, or enrolled in less cognitively demanding classes then is appropriate to their intellectual ability simply because the student displays characteristic traits of s omeone with low proficiency in the academic register Cummins has elaborated and evolved his original theoretical framework a great deal, as it has received much attention in the field of education and been analyzed by other researchers Cummins himself ha s reduced his former emphasis on the cognitive aspect of CALP and had shifted more toward describing its academically related features (Cummins, 2000). Researchers, policymakers and educators commonly adopt similar ideas and frameworks for understanding l anguage in the classroom T he BICS CALP framework provides a way of understanding academic progress or apparent deficits. Teachers can use their understanding of the features of academic language to assist ESL students in identifying and acqu iring those features. Knowledge of the features of the academic register may assist ELLs navigate language use in academic environments.


24 Cummins asserts that low expectations for ESL may not be the only downfall of misunders tandings the second language acquisition process. He states that teachers and administrators sometimes exit students from specialized ESOL programs into mainstream classes before the students are adequately prepared for it This can occur when a student di splays strong pr oficiency in BICS and it is assumed that they are no longer of LEP In some cases, such students may be exited from ESOL services before they have fully developed the language proficiency needed to succeed in all English academic courses an d to compete with their NES peers Once in mainstream classes and without further specialized support for developing L2 proficiency, ESL students often fall behind NES peers of the same age and grade level. guage proficiency or their educational needs and achievement if they do not fully understanding the process of second language acquisition. The BICS CALP distinction is an excellent starting point for investigation into the matter. However, further investi gation is warranted, especially to operationalize th e theory and help to inform pedagogical choi ces. How the BICS CALP Framework Has Been Applied The BICS CALP theoretical framework has received a great deal of scholarly attention, and has been elaborated upon, analyzed, and criticized by several theorists ( Aukerman, 2007 ; Collier 1987; MacSwan & Rolstad, 2003 ). One of the earliest examples, published by Collier (1987) sought to expand the BICS CALP theory by applying the framework to data from American st udents, where Cummins had used the records of Canadian students. The study uses BICS and CALP as a way of understanding the features of language use needed for academic achievement.


25 Collier examined cross sectional data of 1,548 ELL students from one U.S. school district to determine the rates at which they were able to achieve grade level norms on standardized achievement tests. She examined the records of students as they progressed through grade levels, isolating variables such as length of residence, ag e on arrival, English proficiency level on arrival, basic math and reading skills in the native language (as measured by the school district). In her study, Collier frames acade mic English as that which is needed to achieve success on standardized tests. S he also conceptualizes it as including those language skills that are needed for each content area She states that students must demonstrate their knowledge through the use of literacy skills. Collier asserts that standardized tests are a fair measuremen level of CALP She reasons that since standardized test are in use by the school district to determine if a student will be promoted to the next grade level then they are in fact measurements of academic language proficiency It is assumed that grade promotion is an indicator of increase in academic language proficiency. Collier found that it takes 5 7 years on average for ESL students to achieve grade level norms on standardized tests. Her findings indicated that when the total length of fo rmal English instruction was controlled for, students who began English language instruction between the ages of 8 10 were able to acquire academic English proficiency much faster than those students who first began learning English at both younger and old er ages. These findings support the CUP hypothesis, because students between ages 8 10 are assumed to be proficient already in their native languages when they began learning English which then aids them in quickly developing academic English


26 proficiency. literacy can be applied to understanding the academic registers of different languages Carhill, Suarez Orozco, and Paez (2008) also conducted a study that built upon the BICS and CAL P framework. In their study, social factors of 247 adolescent ELLs were examined along with their scores on academic English language proficiency tests. One of the central aims of the study was to determine what social factors influence the emic English proficiency scores. The social factors isolated in the study were age, length of residence in the U.S., maternal education, parental English skills, exposure to English at school and in informal social settings, and school quality. Features o f academic language use that the researchers describe as relat ing to academic English include skills such as summarizing and inferring meaning from written text, explicitly defining concepts, understanding of complex grammatical relationships and writing l engthy texts that conform to expectations for genre style. Those skills measured during the study were discrete lexical meaning, lexical relati ons, and conceptual relations. While only 7% of the students tested achieved proficiency scores comparable to the ir native English speaking peers after seven years of ESL instruction, it was found that certain social factors, especially the use of English in informal social settings, such as at home or with friends, and the overall quality of the school were predicti ve factors related to academic English language proficiency. Gibbons & Lascar (2006) operationalized their concept of academic English, in a theoretical discussion exploring expectations for minority language learners in terms of developing an academic reg ister of English. They conceptualize the academic register


27 skills of reading and writing. Specific to the academic English register is the common use of passive tense to organize technical information. They point out that low frequency vocabulary words are often encountered in the academic environment and that the need to understand the abstract meanings of words and concepts is another prominent feature of the academic language proficiency. In their research, Gibbons & Lancaster (2006) created instruments that were Spanish and English languages. Primarily, this task was accomplished throu gh the use of cloze tests that were independently determined to contain elements of academic language use. Research participants were bilingual students from Australia. Their research was still ongoing at the time it was reported and finding of the study h ad not yet been reported. Variations in the Theory of Academic English The theory of academic English has served to inform the field s of education and second language acquisition by providing a way of understanding that there may be a distinct register of English that is encountered primarily in academic environments Though the idea is widely accepted in general terms, it has been conceptualized in many different ways. This section will present scholars who have defined academic English in ways that point framework emphasized This compilation is by no means intended to be an exhaustive account, but instead represents a selection meant to illustrate that there are a wide variety of different concepts of acad emic English in use by educational and language acquisition scholars.


28 I n a discussion of policy changes in California and Arizona, Guerrero (2004) describes his concept of academic English as a specialized register of language. Registers are defined by the characteristics of language use common to each particular subject area or other speech environment. He elaborates on this concept from a discourse and that the discours e associated with the different subject areas have Each register of language is distinguished based on the characteristic of language use in that environment. The features of language use that are most prominent in the study of science such as scholarly discourse and analysis, are not the same as for the study of history or mathematics In each register, different language features are emphasized. Guerrero goes on to point out that teachers may not always make the language features of their subject area explicit and apparent to their ELLs. He faced by ELLs needing to achieve command of seve ral subject area registers through the medium of a new language. Gee (2003) holds a slightly different concept of academic language, which he explains with regard to his concern over the equity of assessment practices. He posits the current standardized a ssessments may fail to accurately take into account the needs and perspectives of ELL students. He asserts that there is no type of language use that can be accurately described as l In his view, every different style of language u


29 vernacular academic social language domain. Gee (2003) discusses assessment practices centers around literacy acts, readi ng and writing, though he notes that his ideas are applicable to other subject areas, or semiotic domains, as well. He states that there are particular rules, requirements, and expectations for language use associated with the social practices of every sem iotic domain There is also a specialized set of vocabulary terms associated with each domain. Gee stresses how important it is for educators to understand that there are different domains of language, because the cores features of each domain might not be immediately apparent to a non native student. Gee goes on to assert that it is unethical for students to be assessed on domains that they have not had adequate exposure to. Objections to the BICS CALP Distinction The theory of academic English, as describ framework, has been criticized by some researchers. MacSwan and Rolstad (2003) context reduced language as a prominent feature of the classroom e nvironment fails to take into account features of classroom language use such as context clues, pointing and gesturing that teachers frequently rely on as they lecture. Additionally, they find fault with the notion that academic language is inherently more cognitively demanding and contains more complex grammatical structures than everyday social language. 331). They assert that it is erroneous to link language abilities w ith academic achievement, because of the casual social environment can have language use that is just as demanding as language use in the classroom.


30 MacSwan and Rolstad (2003) state that relating academic achievement with language ability can create a defi cit view of minority languages and may cast minority cultures in a negative light. Additionally, separating the two concepts allows for a deeper analysis of the differences between L1 and L2 development. They assert that the path to academic success for EL L students is twofold, in that ELLs must learn a new language and subject area content at the same time. MacSwan and Rolstad (2003) introduce an alternative framework for understanding second language proficiency in school settings, which they refer to as second language instructional competence (SLIC). They describe ac ademic English the stage of second language (L2) development at which the learner is able to understand instruction and perform grade level school activities using the L2 alo (MacSwan & Rolstad, 2003, p. 338 ). The concept of SLIC does not apply to abilities. Aukerman (2007) also rejects Cummins theoretical BICS CALP framework, especially his definition of academic English, but from a different standpoint than MacSwan and Rolstad (2003). Cummins defines academic language around the parameters of decontextualized and cognitively demanding language. Aukerman states opinion, it is simply that every individual person contextualizes what he or she hears or reads differently, and any apparent lack of language proficiency can be more accurately described as a misunderst anding about the context of what is being expressed. SLA is described as the process of recontextualizing what is already known. Aukerman (2007)


31 Aukerman asserts that it is not useful to describe some language uses as less contextualized than others are, because in the process of comprehending linguistic input we mentally place information into a rich mental context so that we can understand it. Unless the very words themselves are not understood, then the input will always be placed into some sort of context by the person receiving the message. So, when ELL students have developed sufficient vocabulary, then the goal for educators becomes helping them place informatio n into the appropriate context. Need for further Investigation into Academic English Much of the research on language proficiency of ESL students investigates iency levels, but less is known about the perspectives of the students themselves. Understanding the ex periences and perceptions of ESL students is important in order to gain a complete picture of the SLA process as it pertains to the academic environment It is important that educators and educational policy makers have a clear academic success. If there are features of English language use that occur uniquely in the classroom environment, then it is crucial that they be understood. When there is a thorough understanding of these features, then they can be explicitly taught to ELL students. Teachers and policy makers can also use their understanding of academic English to aid in designing appropriate curriculum, practices, and policies that work toward optimizing or even accelerating the SLA process and academic success of their


32 students. The ELL students themselves stand to gain a better understanding of what will be required of them in order to achieve academic success in the ESL environment. Summary Chapter 2 elaborated on the various ways in which academic English has been provided the foundational framework from which to compare variations in the theory. Various constructions of academic English language have been described. However, the need for further research, especially into the subjective experience of the ELL, is apparent Chapter 3 will expl ain the methods that were used in the present study to capture


33 Table 2 1. Features of academic English as described by researchers in the fields of Education and Second Language Acquisition. Researcher Features of academic Eng lish Aukerman (2007) Carhill, Suarez Orozco & Paez (2008) ne concepts Collier (1987) s progress through grade levels Cummins (1981, 2000) reduced racy skills: reading and writing Gee (2003) vernacular academic social language domain be explicitly taught Gibbons & Lancaster (2006) Guerrero (2004) the academic r egister ELLs MacSwan & Rolstad (2003)


34 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Background The purpos e of this research study was to explore a high school ESL student perspective of academic English language. The research questions sought to address how the student described academic English as encountered in his content area classes. Additionally, the study sought to explain the way that the student understood the features of academic English language The purpose of Chapter 3 is to make transparent the methodological structure of this research Every effort was made to ensure that the study would be re producible. Therefore, a thorough explanation of methods was included, along with transcripts of the data in Appendix D. Additionally, a coding trail in Appendix H to explain the logic behind choices made during the data reduction process T he research des ign will be explained including the constructivist epistemological viewpoint and the rationale used in participant selection and choice of research methods. T he q ualitative approach to data collection and the constructivist perspective taken in the analys is of the data will be elaborated upon Finally, issues of validity and limitations of the study will be addressed. Theoretical Basis This research study was grounded in the constructivist epistemological viewpoint. Within this way of knowing, all knowledg e is understood to be socially constructed and meaning is negotiated between groups of people. Knowledge exist s in such a way that it is inextricably linked to the time, place and sociocul tural context in which is arises Therefore, knowledge is not seen a s a static thing, but instead is expected to change as


35 features of the context change and as more people weigh in on a given topic By investigating and describing a particular phenomenon within a particular context, a deeper understanding of the character istics and features of that phenomenon can be gained. That kn owledge can then be applied compared and contrasted with knowled ge gleaned from other related contexts. It is in this way that concepts are built upon one another and knowledge is understood by the larger community ( Warmoth 2000). In the process of conducting qualitative research, it is impossible for any researcher to be completely objective. our own background, knowledge and prejudices to see thin gs in certain ways and not approached as a process of discovery that construct ed knowledge and made conclusions based on relationships of that knowledge to ideas presented by other researchers Research Design Thi s section will elaborate upon the qualitative approach to research design that was incorporated in this study. It will begin by describing the process of gaining access to the research subject, and obtaining permissions needed in order to carry out the res earch. An explanation of the research design will follow, including descriptions of the participant selection, interview, observation, and document analysis processes. Accompanying the description of each method used will be an explanation of the reasoning behind its inclusion. Obtaining Permission Official permission to conduct this research study was given by the office of the institutional Review Board 02 (IRB 02). The IRB office approved the study conditionally upon written consent from the parent and verbal consent from the student. Both pieces


36 of consent were obtained and copies were included along with a copy of the official IRB 02 approval form in A ppendices A, B, and C of this document. Additionally, as part of the process of obtaining permission f rom the research participant he was offered, upon completion of the study, a $20 gift certificate to the Oaks Mall as compensation for his participation. The student did in fact complete the study in its entirety and was given a $20 gift certificate on th e last day of interviews. Research Setting This study was conducted at a high school in Florida. The high school was considered representative of a typical school of this region of the country in that it is located in a school district where the vast major ity of the population comes from native English speaking background s yet the number of ESL students was steadily increasing over the last few decades. According to the Florida Department of Education (2011) there were over 260,000 ELLs in enrolled in Flor ida public schools during the 2010 2011 school year. T he Florida Department of Education required that a home language survey (HLS) be given to all student s enrolling in a Florida public school. The school district where the study took place had establishe d English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) center schools for each of its elementary, middle, and high school levels. Students were identified as possibly needing ESOL services based on answers to questions on the HLS. If students were identified as p ossibly being LEP, then a standardized test of language proficiency, the IDEA Oral Language Proficiency Test was given. Students who score below the 32 percentile on the test were immediately eligible for ESOL services.


37 Once a student was designated as el igible for ESOL services, enrollment in the ESOL center school was elective. The program offered to students at the high school where this study was conducted was based on the Sheltered English Instructional model. Students were placed into sheltered langu age classes according to their English language proficiency levels. Exact placement was based on language proficiency class in the high school contained a mixture of stu dents at different grade levels all in one class together. The ESL students took sheltered language classes along with their mainstream content area classes, and their progress was monitored by a committee including the ESOL teacher, administrators, and pa rents Students could be exited from ESOL services based on a recommendation from any member of their committee. According to district plan for ELLs as reported by the study was determined to be proficient in English and was exited from ESOL services at the end of the school year prior to the study. He was enrolled entirely in mainstre am content area classes for his 11th grade year. He no longer attended any formal ESOL classes. All exited ELL students, including the research participant, were required to be monitored by their ESOL teachers, and in part by the district ESOL office, for two years following exit from ESOL services to ensure their academic progress. According to the Florida Department of Education (2011), exited students were monitored for success with mastering grade level academic content standards and benchmarks. ESOL


38 t eachers were required to monitor o n Track benchmark assessments, scores on FCAT practice exams and formal exams, and report cards. It was noted in the case of the research participant, that a certain amount of social support and mentoring was also provided by the ESOL teachers in the form of concern and advice shared with the student, as well as help with homework and other school related issues. Research Participant The research participant, who will be called by a pseudonym, John, was originally from the Dominican Republic. His first language was Spanish. At the age of 10, he immigrated to the U.S. with his mother and sister to live in Georgia. His mother was fluent in English. Three years after immigrating Jo hn moved to Florida to live with his father, who primarily spoke Spanish. At the time of the study, John had been living in the U.S. for approximately seven years and was in the first few months of his 11th grade year in a public high school He was chosen for this study in part because he was in his first year of being exited from the ESOL program at his school. At the end of his 10 th grade year, even though he did not pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test ( FCAT) standardized exam, his ESOL teache rs determined that he had reached an advanced level of English proficiency and he was exited from the program. He was also identified as tive of t he situation, as well as possibly also being an articulate person (Schensul, Schensul, & LeCompte, 1999). John had been an ESL student for seven years and therefore had a great deal of insider knowledge. He was also described by his ESOL teachers as an articulate person. It was thought that these


39 factors would assist him in effecti vely relating his perspective of academic English language. John was at an advanced intermediate fluency level of English proficiency and it was posited that his lengthy experience as an English language learner (ELL) would lend him insights into the nature of academic language. Additionally, the fact that he had attended specialized ESOL classes in the U.S. for seven years prior to the study was significant because it is an amount of time considered by many scholars to be the average length of time needed for an ELL to become proficient in academic English (Col lier 1987; Cummins 1981, 2000). Reciprocity: Establishing r apport In any study that involves interviews and close observation of a subject it is important to build rapport with the research participant. One way the issue was addressed in this study was by getting to know the student through casual conversations before and in between classes. Additionally, Interviews w ere conducted informal time in the context of public schools in the U.S., a time when students are expected to speak freely to one another. Interviews were conducted i n a private meeting room. It was hoped that this environment would help with the student to be at ease and allow him to speak candidly about his opinions and experiences of English language acquisition. Data Collection Methods The primary methods used in this research were semi structured interviews, participant observations, and document analysis of texts and materials used in class by


40 the research participant. These methods were supported by a qualitative theoretical foundation. Primary Data : Semi Struct ured Interviews English language use he encountered and experienced, therefore semi structured interviews were chosen as the primary method of inquiry. Semi structured inter views allowed for greater freedom of expression on the part of the participant when compared to more structured interview methods. Steadman (2006) states that, "at the root of in depth interviewing is an interest in understanding the lived experience of ot her people of the participant was seen to allow for more rich and authentic data collection. The Interview Process Four 30 minute semi structured interviews were conducte d and recorded. The interviews were conducted over the course of two weeks in December, approximately four months into the 2010 2011 school year. The recordings were transcribed in their entirety. Complete transcripts of all interviews, totaling 30 pages, are included in Appendix D The student was asked a series of open ended semi structured questions concerning his experiences and perceptions regarding the nature of the English language use he encountered in school The questions began with general themes and became more focused on specific details as they progressed. Complete transcripts of these interviews were included in Appendix E.


41 Secondary Data: Classroom Observations The research participant was observed over the course of four school days. He att ended six classes each day, all of which are conducted entirely through the medium of English His classes were as follows, in order of their daily schedule: Mathematics for College Readiness; Geometry; Chemistry 1 Honors; English 3; American History; and Intensive Reading, which is an ACT (originally termed American College Testing) preparatory course. Over the course of the observation period, field notes, totaling 13 pages, were recorded describing the environments and language use within lasses. These notes were analyzed, coded, and transcribed. Complete transcriptions are included in Appendix E Secondary Data: Document Analysis All handouts and materials assigned to the research participant by his classroom teachers over the course of th e study were analyzed and described as part of the document analysis. A complete record of the document analysis notes are included in Appendix F. Each document is accompanied by a description of how the document was used in class, the goals of each exer ci se and an analysis of the language being used Each document provide s insight into what communication is like in the related content area class. The d ocument analysis focused in on key features of the language being used that could be considered features of academic English One such feature is the use of cont ent specific vocabulary terms. Another is t he need to use abstract thinking in order to complete an activity Abstract thinking is required anytime an activity involves concepts or objects that are no t immediately present in the environment. Another key feature that was described was the length of the written utterances being


42 used in the documents and how the length may relate to the academic nature of the utterance. For instance, a short utterance th at is also very dense meaning that it provides a lot of con tent information in a single sentence or phrase may be considered an instance of academic English. Conversely, a very long utterance that contains relatively little content information might also be considered a use of academic En glish because the student must have literacy skills that are well developed enough to grasp what parts of the long utterance are the most important Data A nalysis Methods This section will explain in detail the data analysis methods that were employed in this research study and will detail the reasons for the choice of said methodology. Theoretical Basis A qualitative approach was taken to data collection D ata were analyzed utilizing a constructionist method of inductive reasoning. The data were then subjected to a process of coding where they were categorized based on various themes that became apparent as being common to multiple pieces of da ta and relevant to answering the research questions These themes were subsequently analyzed on a higher order so that findings and conclusions could be drawn from them. Process of Data Analysis and Reduction In the initial phase of analysis, each piece o f the data was carefully analyzed for content, and the data were coded and placed into several thematic categories ( Carcary, 2009) Certain pieces of data were determined to be extraneous, such as instances of phase of analysis. In the second phase of analysis, information within the data were analyzed to reveal four basic environments to which they refer. Data were sorted according to which


43 environment they pertained to most closely: in school settings; out of school settings; both, or neither. These environmentally oriented categories were then subdivided into various themes that developed and became apparent as the data were further analyzed. In the third phase of the analysis process, categorized data were a nalyzed to the various environments that were identified in the previous phase. Themes developed R elevant data we re summarize d A coding tail was also created to detail the steps of the data coding process, and is included in Appendix H. Limitations of the Study What follows is a discussion of elements of the study where issues of validity could be called into questi on. Sampling Size The sample size of this study was limited to only one student. This factor greatly limited the degree to which results of this study can be generalized to the larger population. However, findings that are based upon a case study of one r esearch participant can still be valid as a means of giving insight to the scope of the larger context. Opie ( 2004 problem to be studied in some dep T his study a ttempted language he encountered in his high school classes. Capturing a reliable picture of perspective requires obtaining detailed descriptions of their thoughts, opinions, and experiences, as well as by observing their local environment Therefore, a


44 qualitative study involving only one participant was seen as appropriate choice and an ethical pursuit. Generalizability The very limited sample size of the study created difficul ties in generalizing findings to a larger population. It is impossible to say that the experience and perspectives of one person will necessarily be true for another, which is the basis of generalization, and yet that was also part of the intent of this re search One way in which this concern was addressed was in the area of participant selection. Care was taken to select a participant with traits that might be considered common to many other people, and so may be generalizable to some extent. For instance, the subject was a Spanish speaking student, which is the most common background of ESL students in Florida. A dditionally, this study employs a constructivist perspective in the process of interpreting the data. The constructivist perspective does not emph asis the need for a study to produce results and conclusions that are generalizable to the larger population, a necessity that can be a key feature in more positivistic interpretations of data. Data Collection Interviews and observations are necessarily s ubjective in nature. It is nearly impossible to ask a question that does not in some way limit its answer. Interviews were semi structured and deliberately designed to uncover the nature of a particular phenomenon. It is likely that the interview questions have in some ways acted to focus viewpoint of the researcher when asking interview questions, but it would be inaccurate to say that the findings generated from the process wer e completely objective.


45 Data Analysis Data analysis methods limit the validity of the study in that the researcher alone performed the transcription and interpretation processes of this study. No outside analysis was done and conclusions are based on obser vations and inferences made by the researcher personally. Analysis of qualitative data is a subjective process. Therefore, the same data may be interpreted to have different meaning when viewed by another person. To address concerns of validity related to data analysis, a ll four interviews as well as participant observation notes and document analysis were transcribed and coded. A coding trail was created so that the logic behind the process could be as transparent as possible. Summary Chapter 3 explained t hat the study was built upon a constructivist epistemological foundation. It elaborated upon the types of qualitative methods that were employed to collect data, and addressed weaknesses in the study. Chapter 4 will explain the major findings of the study.


46 CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS Opening Remarks Chapter 4 illustrates what the data revealed perceptions of academic English language. It will be shown that that the s tudent described four main features of language that he closel y associated with the academic environment. Those features will be explained and analyzed to reveal how they relate to and to his process of second language acquisition Features of Academic Language The research particip ant, John, described four main features of academic language. Those features were academic vocabulary, long utterances, content specific styles of communication, and abstract thinking. A visual representation of the features is provided in Figure 4 1, at t he end of Chapter 4 The following sections will describe Academic V ocabulary John referenced the use of academic vocabulary more often than any other single feature w hen describing language in the classroom. In this case, academic vocabulary was defined as wo rds that were unfamiliar to John or words that were familiar but were being used in an unfamiliar way. For example, when describing the difficulty of the FCAT exam definition of a cademic vocabulary was expanded to include instances of content speci fic word use, not because John explicitly reference d words as such but because it became apparent over the course of the study that content specific terms words were a


47 prominent part of the vocabulary he encountered in his academic classes, especially in his chemistry class John stated that his Chemistry Honors class was where he encountered the most demanding use of academic vocabulary He also stated that when he compared all of his classes, he found that the language used in his chemistry class was th e most difficult to comprehend. He explained during an interview "my English has to go beyond what I u se in math and social studies. Gott a go from being simple to complicated." is understood to mean that it was academic language, as previously defined, that was also cognitively demanding for him. John attributed some of the difficulty he faced in his chemistry class to deficiencies in his vocabulary. He stated that, the def inition is so complicated, because I'm not like teachers with those big words. were not necessarily long, but were in some way unfamiliar to him. John emphasized tha t he needed to be able to understand the vocabulary used by his teachers in order to achieve academic success and this seemed to be especially important in his science class If every subject is taken to be its own register of language, as Gee (2003) and Guerrero (2004) suggest, then science class could be said to be the most cognitively demanding register for John T he intensity of the cognitive demand re quired to follow along with lectures in the chemistry class was noted in the observation logs Lecture s were described as demanding in that they were fast paced and content specific vocabulary words were being used frequently, both orally and in writing. Additionally,


48 vocabulary words were often unaccompanied by scaffolding or other means of contextual sup port that might have aid ed in decoding and understanding them. The teacher provided select vocabulary words and definitions on the overhead or as a handout, but they by no means covered all the content vocabulary terms used in the lecture. It was noted in many other vocabulary words in the lecture that are not given on the current handout. t he lecture would go on for several minutes without a pause for students to ask questions if they did not under stand the vocabulary of the concepts being used I t was noted that John would often begin reading his comic book duri ng chemistry lectures as well as lectures in other classes This behavior was understood as a coping strategy he used when the language de mand became too intense for him to follow. John described certain personal qualities of his Science teacher that he felt impeded his comprehension of her lecture He doesn't speak loud enough. That's one thing. The second thing is that when she speaks style, as well as whether the teacher was entertaining or not for John to listen to, were other factors that he reported affecting his liste ning comprehension. Factors that affected his listening comprehension may have contributed to his overall rate of language acquisition including academic vocabulary. If the student cannot understand the words being used, it will most likely be a barrier to acquisition of the relevant vocabulary. John appears to have not fully acquired the academic vocabulary necessary for success in rigorous academic courses and assessments. He did not pass the reading


49 portion of the FACT exam that was administered during h is 10 th grade year. He described the difficulty he faced with vocabulary on the FCAT, stating that it was not l ike vocabulary he encountered in his regular academic classes. He described FCAT vocabulary e FCAT] it's not like When he described the vocabulary as him. They may have been low frequency, or they may have been used in an unfamiliar way. When s with him, he reported that word problem questions were the most challenging to comprehend. When a mathematical question consisted of only numbers and no words he found that it was ea sier to understand, as there was no need to translate it or to uncover implied meanings. However, when a question contained primarily words, John tended to look at only the numerical parts of the question first to see if he could decode the question withou t ne eding to read the whole thing. He reported that his technique often resulted in an incorrect answer. He specifically pointed out question number 41 on his Geometry test as an example of a question where the voc abulary was problematic for him: Question 41: ABC is an isosceles triangle with BD AC. Name the theorem that could be used to determine A=C. Then, name the postulate that could be used to prove BDA=BDC. Choose from SSS, SAS, ASA, and AAS. This question provides a good example of one in which the v ocabulary used to ask the question contributed to the difficulty of solving it. The document analysis showed that these question s test ed not only his understanding of how to solve a triangle, but


50 common word that is taking on an uncommon meaning in the context of Geometry class. Some of the other documents collected during the observation pr ocess provided good examples of the kinds of content specific vocabulary terms John indicated as being prominent in the academic environment. For example, one document, collected from his Chemistry Honors class, contained nine short questions A complete c opy of the document is located in Appendix F. The following provides three questions from the worksheet in the document analysis that contain academic voca bulary words such as : What do other elements do to acquire a noble gas configuration? What does the shape of a crystal tell you about its internal structure ? Wh y do these explosives release so much energy ? The questions on this worksheet caused John a great deal of confusion when p resented to him in class. He reported having trouble understanding the content words contained in the questions. The document analysis noted certain words that appeared to be rather common, but which took on unusual meanings as they were being used in the worksheet, such as internal The intensity of the cognitive demand required to follow along with lectures in the chemistry class was noted in the observation logs. Lectures were described as demanding in that the use of content specific vocabulary words were frequently incorporated, both orally and in writing without their definitions V ocabulary words were often unaccompanied by scaffolding or other means of contextual support that might have aided in decoding and understandin g them. Additionally, the teacher used


51 utterances that were very dense, in that a lot of information was condensed into one sentence. The chemistry teacher did provide the students with certain vocabulary words and definitions on the overhead or as a hando ut during lectures but by no means covered all the content vocabulary terms used in the lecture. It was noted in the observation log e lecture would frequently go on for several minutes without a pause for students to ask questions if they did not understand the vocabulary o r the concepts being used. It was also noted that John would often begin reading his comic book during chemistry l ectures, as well as lectures in other classes. This behavior was understood as a coping strategy he used when the language demand became too intense for him to follow A practice reading comprehension exam from the document analysis, that was given in John ACT preparatory course provide d an excellent example of con tent area work that incorporate d many low frequency vocabulary words as well as the use of figurative speech The passage was A Rock, A Cl These words cold generally be considered low frequency words and they are given with limited contextual support in the passage. For example, t The man leaned his head down and tapped his forehead on the counter. For a few seconds he stayed bowed over in this position, the back of his stringy neck covered with orange furze, his hands with their long warped fingers held palm to palm in an attitude of prayer. A complete copy of the practice exam is located in Appendix F.


52 During the observations, it was noted that in chemistry textbook most of the pages contained more words than pictures, which indicated that there w ould be limited contextual support for the student to draw from. In general, paragraphs contained several content specific vocabulary words each. When the definition of a word was being introduced in the text, the definitions being provided in the body of the text were generally complex explanations that assumed background knowledge on the part of the reader or knowledge of certain other content words in order to understand the definition being given. John stated during an interview that he felt the chemist ry textbook he had been assigned for 11 th grade was more difficult for him to comprehend than the one he had used the previous year. He stated that now he needed more time to read each chapter, ticed that textbooks tended to become more difficult as t he y went up in grade levels. In observing Johns ACT preparatory course it was noted that he had particular difficulty completing cloze passages The exercises challenged his lexical and grammatical knowledge. For example, on these words could be used as verbs in other contexts. This contributed to their difficulty and made them esp ecially challenging for John. John explained his perception of the difficult he faced decoding vocabulary in cloze passages. He stated that the definitions of words in cloze passages were not straightforward, but instead related to the contexts and particu lar usage of the word


53 that a single word could take on multiple meanings and possibly fit into more than one blank in the passage was a major factor that contributed to the difficulty of the exercise. During the interviews, John pointed out that in general it was easier for him to comprehend vocabulary words when they were delivered with s ufficient contextual support. An example of this would be understanding a single word in the context of a sentence. He described the way that he could decode an unknown word, such as as long as it was delivered along with enough contextual suppor t. He stated, "if that the meanings of unknown vocabulary words could be inferred when the context is known. This technique for decoding words seems to be applicable in or out of the classroom, but John was referring to the classroom environment when he discussed it. Long U tterances According to John, the use of lengthy and detailed utt erances, both written and oral, was a prominent feature of language in the academic environment. He explained that in school he often needed to be able to understand and produce lengthy statements and explanations. At times, teachers had encouraged him to work on improving his skill at producing longer utterances. During the interviews, John reca lled that one teacher had encou raged him to provide long and detailed explanations, especially when asking questions in class. He stated that when asking questions, this teacher required him to explain the details of what he was asking for. She told him that she would not answer his questions unless he provided her with more than one or two words and a through explanation of what he


54 was asking about. The teacher view feature that was important to language use in the classroom and therefore encouraged it. It was noted in the document analysis that lengthy written utterances were a feature of assignments John received in hi s content classes. For example, I examined a handout John was given by his English Language Arts teacher. A copy of the handout is located in Appendix F. The handout contained a description of an assignment that students in the class were expected to compl ete over the Christmas vacation. During the observations, John expressed frustration over not being able to understand the directions given on the handout and asked me to explain it to him Although he also said that he had only briefly looked over the ha ndout and had not had time to read it thoroughly. When analyzing the handout during the document analysis I noted that the directions were not brief or concise. They were quite complex both in that they wer e lengthy and in that they provided some extraneo us information that was not well organized. This resulte d in a long list of instruction s. I t was difficult to comprehend the main points without reading the entire document carefully H ere is a n example from the description of how to choose a book to read for the project: Mrs. O must approve all titles. Choose from the list below. There are many more titles than this smattering of suggestions, but I think these are worth your time. In fact, some people claim that reading some of these books changed their pe rspective on things. low frequency word. The sentence about how some books have i nfluenced others could be considered vague and extraneous to the directions These fa ctors may have


55 A copy of the complete handout, Book in a Box, is located in Appendix F. During the interviews, John reported that t here were instances outside of the classroom when he had experi enced difficulty understanding long written passages. He described the difficulty of reading legal agreements, specifically those he encountered on the Facebook website. In order to use Facebook, just as with many other Internet based programs, the user mu In the interviews, John recalled trying to read the agreements, explaining that they were excessively long and understand it. That' John specifically points out the vocabulary usage and the length of the texts, stating, This indicated that the length of a text is a feature that John felt contributed to the difficulty of comprehending it. Abstract T hinking John described the way in which success in the classroom often required him to use abstract thinking and communication skills such as when thinking about geometric shapes or when do ing expository writing work These examples will be explained in more detail later in this section. Abstract communication is the ability to think and communicate about objects, ideas, or concepts that are not immediat ely present in the environment. This i s a skill that was seen as necessary for many, if not all, content area classes, but certain classes, such as chemistry and math, required the use of abstract thinking more often than others. class chemistry work provided exce llent example s of the need to use abstract thinking skills in chemistry class For example, question


56 number six hat does the shape of a crystal A copy of this worksheet is loc ated in Appendix F. n order to comprehend this question one must be able to grasp the idea that a crystal has an internal structure that is not visible to the eye and not able to be detected with the senses; it is inta ngible chemistry class must be thought about on an abstract level because the subject deals primarily with invisible forces During the interviews, John expressed the belief that to be successful in school he know the thin gs deep inside their ways. Like milk. Like, what is milk made out of?" The difference here is that knowing what is in milk before drin king it implies having a tangible experience of the milk. It is implied that the milk is right in front of him and he could examine it if necessary to see what is in it. Whereas in class, being able to explain what milk is made out of requires understandin g milk as an abstract concept, when it is not immediately present to be examined. Skill with abstract thinking was often required of John in his geometry class, just as it is in many advanced mathematical classes. During the observations, it was noted the way that the teacher would draw a figure on the board that represented a 3 dimensional object. On the board the object was of course flat, so it was the burden of the students to understand that the figure represented something more than was being displaye d. This level of understanding requires the use of abstract thinking skills and is a common occurrence in school, especially in math and science classes.


57 In one interview, John compared speaking face to face with another person and writing in class He ass erted that face to face communication was easier for him because it allowed for greater communicative flexibility. It allowed the use of gestures and elaborate descriptions. For example, he stated," if I don't know the word [I say instead], "Can you go to that blue thing over there? [He gestures at the blue recycling bin]. That's how I do it." Face to face communication allowed him to add context to his speech act in the form of gestures, body language, and elaboration, because it is a tangible experience. Writing on the other hand requires abstract though and use of abstract communication strategies. It is impossible to physically point to the object of reference when writing. Instead, one must make abstract references that allow the reader to comprehend wh at is being described. C ontent Specific Communication S tyles John indicated that success in school required him to have a thorough grasp of the common communication practices associated with each subject area. He described the way that misunderstanding wha t was expected of his communication in certain content area classes had caused him to struggle academically, especially in his language arts and history class es He described in an interview the need to develop a thorough understanding of expectations for genre writing styles in order to be successful in writing essay s for his language arts class Specifically, he had to learn to distinguish expository versus narrative writing styles. He recalled a difficult experience writing an expository essay, stating, I am but that's not what I'm supposed to say. I'm supposed to say why he jumped, how he jumped, you know,


58 stated that it took time for him to learn how to use the appropriate communication style for each genre. In another interview, John expressed similar ideas when learning what it meant to stay on topic He s tated that writing was and always had been the most difficult English language skill for him to master within the context of sc hool. Within the subject of writing, he had particular diffic ulty mastering the skill of staying on topic He stated that, "I can lose up really quick thinking I'm on topic. That's the problem everyone is having." The skill of staying on topic is rel ated to content knowledge communication must be limited in a particular way as to focus on the topic and provide the right kinds of details. There are expectations for how this may be appropriately accomplished that are specific to the study of English language arts. Certain other features of writing were of particular concern to John in the classroom. He stated conjunct ions, like separating things from another, like capital letters, like which one to do." John has difficulty wit h common conventions of grammar, which he felt were very important to his academic success. He even linked these skills to his overall success in life, stating that he felt that he needed to be able to write well in English in order to be successful. Additionally, John said that he had also experienced difficulty using writing conventions correctly when writing back and forth with friends on Facebo ok an out of school context This illustrates the way that this feature of language use in the classroom sometimes carried over to environments outside the classroom.


59 During the interviews and observations, it was revealed that c loze passages were very ch allenging for John to complete T hey represent a particular type of communication activity containing features that are unlikely to be encountered outside of school. The following is an excerpt from the cloze passage in the document analysis: On a mission to rescue a downed American soldier, the chopper flew low over a group of people huddled around a _______ on the ground. Th e work bank was as follows: following, relief, triage, onsite, stretcher, command, phoned, reserve, ribcage, pooling, drama, wary, medic, bullhorn, spite This example illustrates the way that this cloze passage required the student s to understand that most of the words could be used as more than one part of speech. It is part of the particular communication style that is common to cloze passages This tests In discussing the topics of grammar, punctuat ion and parts of speech during an interview John ex plained that in his perceptio n every teacher has a different way of explaining these topics. He stated that, "teachers would say things differently, but they all mean the same." There are always multiple different ways to explain a given concept, and that fact has caused John a great deal of confusion. He said that it made it difficult for him to master certain convention of communication, such as the rules of grammar, because they seemed to change dependi ng on who was explaining them. In one interview, John explained how it had been necessary for him to become familiar with the scope and depth of the information he would be required to communicate on in class exams. He recalled a period of time when he was consistently received low scores on his History exams, even though he had devoted a lot of time to


60 studying. His strategy for studying was to memorize all the main vocabulary terms in the chapter and their definitions. This strategy only resulted in confu sion when it was time to take the test, because the definitions he memorized did not exactly answer the questions he saw on the test. John explained tha t he was able to improve his scores after he realized that the teacher was communicating information on test items in a less direct manner than they were given in the book. He was able to master this style of communication when he recognized that simple memorization was not going to be sufficient to pass the test. He needed to become familiar with the teache for word. I did that before, but I got a bad grade. He [the U.S. History teacher] wants us to A study guide, handwritten by John, was collected and reviewed in the document analysis. The document illustrates the depth of analysis that John now uses in studying for his history exams. This excerpt provides a good example: George Custer a lieutenant colonel that attempted with 600 members of the U.S. army to reach the Indian camp, sadly Indians did a surprised attack on George 600 soldiers, with he died in this battle. His description of George Custer is th o rough enough that it includes the most important facts relevant to the battle being studied. It is also concise enough to me memorized book. Inst ead, particular details are selectively pulled from the text and included in This illustrates the way that John has begun to master the style of communication required of him for success on his history exams.


61 In another interview, Joh n explained how he felt that the style of communication used on FCAT exams was unfamiliar and difficult for him to understand. He stated that the one aspect of communication on the test that he needed improved skill with was, "reading between the lines." H e said that he thinks that authors of the FCAT exam often say one thing when they really mean another and that their explanations are not straightforward. He indicated that sometimes he found it diff icult to discern the difference between similar answer ch oices. John expressed that the communication style on the FCAT exams was not similar to what he had experienced in other environments Summary Chapter 4 presented the four major features of language that the student described as playing a major role in lan guage use in the academic environment. The four major features were academic vocabulary, long utterances, abstract thinking, and content specific communication styles. Chapter 5 will discuss these findings in detail and relate them to theories of academic English that have been presented by researchers.


62 Figure 4 1. Features of Academic English Described by a High School ESL Student Features of Academic English Academic Vocabulary Content specific Communication Styles Abstract Thinking Long Utterances (oral & written)


6 3 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION Opening Remarks Chapter 5 provides a discussion of the research findings presented in Chapter 4 Th related theories that have been put forth by researchers The significance of each of the major findings will be discussed, especially as they relate to academic achievement of ELLs. Discussio The study found that the research participant, John, perceived of academic English as having four main features. The se features were academic vocabulary, long utterances, content specific communication styles, and abstract th inking. perceptions of what features constitute academic English did not precisely align with any one specific theory of academic English put forth by researchers. However, there were some similarities of ideas and some differences A picture of the high school ESL the ways in which John understood academic language and comparing that to other theories that have been presented. There is widespread agreement that th e use of content specific vocabulary terms is a feature of academic English. John devoted much of his description of language in the classroom to recounting uses of vocabulary that caused him academic difficulty due to being either content specific, low fr equency, or otherwise unfamiliar to him. Several researchers (Aukerman, 2007; Cummins, 2000; Gee, 2003; Gibbons & Lancaster, 2006) also point to vocabulary as a feature of language that is closely associated with the academic environment.


64 Some researchers (Gee, 2003; Gibbons & Lancaster, 2006; and Guerrero, 2004) have point ed out that each content area class uses a set of vocabulary terms that are specific to that given context, or register of language. This is very much in keeping with John described several academic situations in which content specific vocabulary was being used. He emphasized that this had sometimes caused him comprehension difficulties. Ultimately, John expressed that he felt deficits in his vocabulary were the cause of much of his academic difficulties. Gee (2003) points out that not only are there specific types of vocabulary associated with each register or content area, there are also social rules and ceptions were in keeping with this idea. John highlighted the fact that he needed to be familiar with the particular social communication practices of each class in order to be successful academically. John described the process of learning the communicati ve expectations for each class in his interviews He emphasized that his academic performance in each class would suffer until he was able to grasp the style of communication being used or expected of him to use Certain fact ors associated with vocabulary words, including social factors and the level of context for him to comprehend vocabulary terms that we re delivered along with sufficient contextual support. He had a great deal of difficulty understanding vocabulary terms that were being delivered in a decontextualized manner, such as was t he case in his chemistry class and on cloze passage activities


65 Gib bons and Lancaster (2006) specifically used cloze passages as their means of measuring English Spanish both languages The purpose of cloze passages is to help students learn vocabulary or to test their vocabulary skills by presenting them with vocabulary words and then providing possible contexts that those words will fit in to. Cloze passages are an excellent measure of vocabulary skills, because students must be familiar enough with the word s to under s tand how they can be properly used in the passage ss is where he reported encountering the most challenging uses of academic English. In the observations it was noted that during lecture that his science teacher would make frequent r eferences to content vocabulary words wi thout providing the definitions and without scaffolding or other forms contextual support, aside parameters for defining academic l anguage, in that it is context reduced and cognitively demanding. The content specific vocabulary terms may have been cognitively demanding for John because his lexicon is limited and the words were being delivered in a context reduced manner during the or al lecture In a journal article describing teaching practices that have been demonstrated to improve ELLs success in secondary level science classes, Anstrom and DiCerbo (2011) emphasize that advanced literacy skills are central to ELL success. They asser t that literacy skills related to science must be explicitly taught to ELL students. They explain that students need to understand feature of language used in science, such as the way information in science texts is generally organized, connected and categ orized, as well as the use of passive voice, and the ability to decode passage s that densely pack a lot


66 of information into each sentence These are the main features of language that they point to as most important to ELL academic success in science class es It is interes ting to note that John did not describe any of these features specifically. T hat may be because he had not yet achieve mastery of these skills As mentioned the use of many scaffoldi ng techniques in her lectures. During my time observing her classroom, I did not notice a single instance where she explicitly taught the students about features of the language being used. This may be significant because, as Anstrom and DiCerbo (2011) poi nt out, 2 3). Anstrom and DiCerbo (2011) elaborate on this idea, stating that teachers themse lves must first become aware of the most common linguistic features of their subject area if they are to explicitly teach them to their students. They suggest that the best way for this to be accomplished is through quality professional development courses They recommend that professional development courses for science teacher s should include three main things. The first is that course s should help teachers to explicitly understand the major linguistic features of their content area Content area teachers can then use t his knowledge to correct students writing error s and draw attention to the major features related to their subject Secondly, courses should help teachers learn to deconstruct sentences from the textbooks they use in their classrooms in order to gain a better understanding of how students will be expecte d to extract knowledge from the text. Lastly, they recommend that professional development cou r ses encourage content area teachers to communicate with English language


67 teachers when designing curriculum as a way of better understandin g their ELLs John identified certain other feature s of language that he perceived to be closely related to the academic environment, such as lengthy written and oral communications Carhill, Suarez Orozco, and Paez (2008) expressed a ve ry similar idea in their description of academic English. They specifically point to lengthy communications as a feature of academic English T hey mention other features as well, such as the use of complex grammatical structures and the need to have an und erstanding of the expectations associated with each genre style in writing Some features of language that John associated with the classroom environment were also described as necessary for communication outside the classroom as well. John perceived of l ong utterances as a feature of langua ge outside the classroom During the interviews, he explained that he needed to understand and to be able to communicate long utterances in certain formal environments, on legal agreements and in business transactions He likened these types of communication events to his experiences in the classroom. Additionally, John expressed the idea that certain other features that define academic English are also common outside the classroom such as the vocabulary and gramma r co nventions. and out of the classroom is a point that was not emphasized by the researchers co vered in this paper. However, th e fact that certain features of language span acro ss multiple environments has implications for instruction I t points to the idea that ELL students may benefit from activities that mock communicative practices as they o ccur outside the


68 classroom. John gave an example of returning an item to the customer service desk at a department store as a time when he was required to communi cate lengthy descriptions of detailed inf ormation, and he likened this to communication styles used in the classroom Therefore, ELL s tudents may benefit from practicing this kind of communication and could engage in dramatic reenactments that recreate situations i n the real world env ironment. Doing these kinds of activities may help ELL students to better navigate these situations while at the same time it may also work toward improving their use of communication skills required for academic success he related the need to under stand different genre styles of writing specifically to the context of his language arts class, since that was the only environment where he was called on to use that specific set of skills. The use of genre styles was not a defining feature of academic la nguage in general, but instead was described as a feature specific to the study of language arts. It was therefore inferred that the student perceived of the use of genre styles as a content area specific form of communication. Each subject area has sp ecific genre styles associate d with it and ELL students must become familiar with these styles in order to be successful in the given content area. As mentioned previously, this is best accomplished through explicit instruction of the features of each genre style, but explicit instruction will not be possible unless the teachers themselves are aware of such features. The use of abstract thinking skills was a feature of language that John closely associat ed with the academic environment This feature has been identified by researchers as well. Gibbons & Lascar (2006) for instance, point to abstract thinking as a prominent trait of the classroom environment. They state that the need to understand


69 the abstract meanings of words and concepts is a feature of academic language. Other researchers also point to abstract communication as a n academic language feature ( Anstrom & DiCerbo 2011; Aukerman, 2007; Collier, 1987). Aukerman (2007) asserts that understanding abstract explanations and directions is a common feature of academic language beginning even in ki n dergar t en The u se of abstract thinking skills was chemistry class. His lectures involved the use of abst ract thinking skills, because they were deliv ered in a context reduced manner no pictures, displays, or models were used Comprehension of concepts was done on the level of abstraction. There was very little scaffolding or other forms of sup port included with the lecture. John expressed the belief that his textbooks seemed to be becoming more difficult to comprehend with each passing year and point ed out his chemistry textbook as a specific example. Collier (1987) expresses a similar sentiment about academic This finding may indicate t hat the student perceives of an increase in the use of or intensity of the academi c English used in each passing grade level Taking this point of view, the phenomenon of academic English proficiency could be considered an outcome of a successful academic experience. In one study of the academic achievement records of ESL students, Collier (1987) concluded that it takes approximately 5 7 years for ESL students to achieve average scores for their grade level based on standardized tests. She also concluded that s tudents who began formally learning English between the ages of 8 10 would acquire academic proficiency slightly faster than other groups, based on t he Common


70 Underlying Principle (CUP) Hypothesis John falls roughly into both of these categories since he was around the age of 10 when he immigrated to the US and be gan receiving formal English language instruction At the time that the current study took place h e had been receiving instruction in English consistently for approximately 7 years since immigrati ng to the US was when he immigrated to the US and began learning En glish formally. Social factors and background knowledge undoubtedly influence the second language acquisition process and are important to take into account when applying the CUP Hypothesis. precisely and is instead more in keeping with the findings of the Carhill, Suarez Orozco, and Paez (2008) study John was not able pass the reading portion of the standardized exam, the FCAT, he took in the year previous to the study. Carhill Suarez Orozco, and Paez found that after seven years of study only 7% of the students they investigated had achieved scores comparable to NES students. Collier (1987) herself indicated that standardized tests were a good measure of academic language proficiency because they were also used to determine grade promotion and entry into special programs. This indicates that it can be difficult to estimate an exact amount of time needed for academic English acquisition. The process is affected by many factors aside from the length of instruction in English. Summary Chapter 5 discussed and explored the perceptio ns of academic English. His perceptions were compared to theories of academic English that have been put forth by researchers in the fields of E ducation and S econd L anguage


71 A cquisition. Chapter 6 will address the implications of these findings and make rec ommendations for future research.


72 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Opening Remarks Chapter 6 will explore the significance, implications, and conclusions that can be drawn based on findings The position s of relevant researchers will be explored as they rela te to the fi ndings. Recommendations for future research will also be discussed. Summary of the Findings This study found that the high school ESL student investigated perceived of four ma i n features of academic English, the use of academic vocabulary, long utterances, content specific communication styles and abstract thinking. perceptions of academic English works toward developing a more complete understating of t he and toward optimizing the process of second language acquisition Significance Overall, ESL students in the US are falling behind academically when compared to their native English speaking peers. ess is inextricably tied to successful language acquisition (Cummins, 2000), especially in rigorous content area classes. o n academic language, educators and policymakers can better understand and meet the ne eds of the students that they serve. This kind of understanding can be used to optimize and possibly even accelerat e the process. The knowledge gained as a result of better understanding can be applied to the goal of improving the academic achievement rate s of ESL students


73 also serve to inform important decisions regarding ESL students For instance, teachers may not be aware that there are many different features of language that ESL students need to become proficient in as they gain fluency in the English language of proficiency wit h other features. Sometimes discrepancies in langua ge proficiency can be misunderstood as an intellectual deficiency in the student, and low expectations for can help to clear up these ty pes of misunderstandings. Researchers and educators may have other incorrect assumptions about ESL students themselves to achieve language fluency sufficient for academic succ ess. Therefore, investigating the perspective is valuable to gaining a complete understanding of all the factors that influence in the process and in determining which are the most significant to education Implications It is important to underst and ESL students perspective s and experiences of acquiring academic language proficiency This information can be taken into consideration when designing educational policies and curriculum for ELLs in teacher preparation and for continuing education cou rses may be especially also valuable to those speed of language acquisition and their rates of academic success.


74 It is in the best interest of the ESL student, the school system, and the govern ment possible. Language fluency will work toward leveling the economic, social, and academic playing field s for ELLs competing with native English speakers Policies a nd curriculum designs that lead to fluency more quickly than others will save governments and school districts money in the long run In order to accomplish speedy language acquisition especially as it relates to the academic environment, the various feat ure of language in the academic environment must be thoroughly understood. The knowledge can then be applied to many facets of ESOL education. Each content area emphasizes its own unique language features and norms for communication. Guerrero (2004) points out that teachers may not always make the language features of their subject area explicitly known to their ESL students. In fact, though they may be able to demonstrate them very well, teachers may not always be able consciously describe the most common language features and usages associated perspective of academic English within the various content areas may aid teachers in understanding and being able to convey these fe atures more explicitly. Gee (2003) also stresses the importance of teachers becoming aware of these features and the benefits of pass ing on that awareness to ELLs. The implication is that explicit instruction of these features can la nguage acquisition and overall academic success. The best way for teachers to become aware of these things is through participation in quality continuing education and teacher preparation programs.


75 In the findings of the present study vocabulary was a pro minent feature in description s of language in th e classroom It is interesting to note that for the research participant, John, it w as one of the main features that he used to define academic English It was also noted that John li n ked his vocabulary skill s to his academic success. This finding speaks to the need for vocabulary building to be emphasized in the curriculum of ESOL education ESL students need to be exposed to curriculum that will work to effectively and efficiently expand their vocabularies This is especially true regarding words that are unlikely to be encountered outside of school or those that are content specific Several recommendations about how to increase vocabulary skills were made by Manyak, and Bauer (2009) following a review of re levant research articles They recommend that ESL students be taught a mix of basic and more advanced words throughout the grade e further recommend that this higher level vocabulary include a combination o f useful general words a nd content oriented terminology (p.175). The research that they reviewed indicated that vocabulary instruction was most effective for ELLs when it was delivered in a rich instructional environment They mention the use of drama in instruction, as well as scaffolding techniques, pictures, and multi faceted activities. They further recommend that ESL students not only be taught vocabulary explicitly, but also be taught strategies for decoding and inferring word meaning independently. All of their recommendations are based on the results of published educational research studies.


76 Gibbons and Lancaster (2006) p oint out that some vocabulary terms encountered in school are unlikely to be learned in the domestic environment. It is logical t o assume that all students, including ELLs, will encounter a certain amount of unfamiliar vocabulary words in school. However, ELLs face a heavier burden in this situation, because they begin at a level of defici ency compared to their native English speaki ng peers The implication is that curriculum which emphasizes vocabulary building may be beneficial for all students, and is likely to be especially beneficial for ELLs. Abstract thinking and abstract forms of communication also play a central role for all students in the academic environment. The findings of Aukerman (2007), Collier (1987) Gibbons and Lancaster (2006) as well as the present study support this idea. The implication is that it is important for ESL students as with all students, to be chal lenged to think and communicate in abstract ways even if they are at a low level of language fluency Form s of abstract communication occur in a ll of the content areas, so improving abstract thinking skills may work to increase academic achievement in a w ide variety of contexts. Curricular goals for ESL students should include support for abstract communication skills. Another feature of academic English that John d escribed as contributing t o his difficulties with comprehension was t he length of written or oral communications Longer utterances were more difficult to comprehend, which has two major implications for ELLs. First, that limiting th e length of communicat ions may help to improve comprehensibility for ELL students. Directions for assignments, for instance, should be delivered in as concise a manner as possible. Secondly, students need opportunities to practice communicating and comprehending long forms of utterances. This could be


77 accomplished by incorporating opportunities for practicing communica tion skills in class and receiving feedback for peers or the instructor It is important to note that all of the four major features of language that were found to relate to John perspective of academic English were also features that he struggled with i n school. Even though he had been studying English in a formal academic environment for seven years and had been deemed proficient enough to be exited from ESOL services he still reported frequ ent difficulties related to language proficiency It is most i mportant that teachers and other professional who work with ELLs understand that complete fluency can take a very long time to achieve. In many cases a person may never become completely fluent in their second language. Academic English fluency has signifi cant consequences for ELLs when it comes to standardized testing. John described the communication style used on the FCAT test as being unusual to him and particularly difficult to comprehend. Gee (2003) asserts that current standardized assessment practic es do not accurately take into account the needs and perspectives of ES L students. He goes on to say it is unethical for students to be assessed on types of language that they have not had adequate exposure to. ELL students need to have every opportunity t o become familiar with the communication styles that will be used to assess them, in order to help make standardized assessments more fair and equitable for them. The failure rates of ELL students on current standardized assessments points strongly to the need for an evaluation of current assessment policies, procedures and designs. Teachers, policymakers, and other related parties will need to be aware of the most current research regarding academic English i n or der for there to be


78 implementations that are beneficial to ESOL education. It will help them to understand what feature s of academic English are most significant to the ESL populations that they serve. This knowledge can be disseminated in continuing education classes, as well as initially for new t eachers in teacher preparatory programs and subsequently put to the test in classrooms That being said the findings of this study alone are quite limited in thei r generalizability Therefore, further research and discussion must be done to ga in a more c omplete picture Recommendations for Future Research One of the major l imitations of this study was its small sample size. It is therefore recommended that similar studies be conducted using a larger sample size, so that cross case and cross cultural analy zes may be done. This will help to uncover features of academic language that may be more generalizable to the larger population of ESL students in the U.S. It is possible that students of different cultural backgrounds will perceive of different features as being prominent in their own academic language experiences. The age of the research subject, educational background and various social factors also contributed to the results of this study. Findings are likely to vary widely if the study were to be repr oduced using subjects with different backgrounds Therefore it is recommended that subjects of wide variety of age groups and backgrounds be investigated in a similar manner so that generalizations can be made more accurately Summary Chapter 6 explored t he ways in which the findings of this study can be used to inform the fields of education and second language acquisition It also explored how the findings could be applied to help improve academic achievement of ELLs. T here


79 remains a need to conduct furt her research in order to draw conclusions that may be generalized to the larger population of ESL students.












85 APPENDIX D INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT S Interview Day 1 (Tues December 7 th 2010) Spanish. Just Spanish? Just Spanish. With your dad, at home? Spanish. Friends, Spanish. Sometimes English, but like a little. English. Right, but otherwise just Spanish? Just Spanish, because I cannot lose that language. I have to, you know, be fluent with it. Has it always been like that? Well yeah, yeah, basically, not when I started coming to the United States. You know, I had to like use Spanish fluently. you in Engli sh to help you learn? You mean like when you were in Duval elementary? Yeah, those times where the times when I was in Georgia a attention to the teacher how to speak those English. I talked to friends and, you know, e basic English that I have to learn from


86 Nothing. Nada. When were you in Atlanta Georgia? th grade all the way to, last I can remember, all the way to like 6 th grade, no, yeah around 5 th One year I guess. Yeah, You said you went to Dual Elementary too, right? Y eah, I went to Du val. So, you did 4 th grade up in Atlanta and then you came back here and did it too? another place and you do school over there and you do half of it, and then you come back her e and you have to repeat the same grade again, from the beginning, because all the things are going to be lost from that time. That why it happened. Tell me what you remember from first learning English, when you said you mostly learned it from speaking. T English became better. I was living with my mother. You know, they got divorced, so yeah, I was living with my mother first then I, um, I came, I came here. Does your mom spe ak English? Yeah, fluently. So, I went over there, to Atlanta Georgia, and then I started. My mother was, you know, she was supportive. She was like speaking to me English all the time. ell me was how to do the adverbs, the normal tenses. But, when I started speaking to, like you know, like to teachers individually, you know, like one on one, I became, you know, more into it. It was more like having a conversation? Yeah, like if it was my ng, listening to someone speak, reading or writing? I would say writing.


87 Writing was hard at first? Becaus e you were just sounding it out, right? Yeah So what was the easiest thing out of those four; listening, speaking, reading or writing? Listening. Pure listening. Listening is easier than speaking? Listening is easy because you get the words from them and then you learn it from yourself. Like, you could give me a sentence and then you could put it with a big word Like, let me see, I can think of an example. infamy? Yeah the definition of it, but I m ay know what it means straight off the bat. was mean. more into it as the days went on. Yeah, because you want to talk to people, so you try it out, right? Yeah.


88 Tell me more about your ESOL classes. So, you said y ou learn the most from talking to people. But, eventually you came here, you were in Westwood, you Like, to me, it was a challenge, like playing a video game. Like, you need s ome type of cheat code to beat that class. Because every class is different. Every ESOL class is different. From the first time I began doing ESOL class, to this one. Teachers would say Noun is a person, place, or thing hy. But, do you think it helped being in those classes? Y ou did eventually learn about Tell me about the FCAT in terms of the language you see on it. The FCAT is like my worst enemy. FCAT is like saying a bad word. When I do the saying? They give me, for example math, or for example reading, they give me a whole So I think, they say if they talk about, the cat is moving to this place and that place and he goes for the mouse and he jumps for that one. And then one of the answers, one of e, and I choose tion. So, that why I hate it so ACT now, in order to graduate, because I need to. Bottom line is the FCAT is like my worst enemy. You get bored so fast. You fall asleep so often.


89 So, I wonder. What makes the FCAT so difficult? When you read the passages, does it seem like the same kind of passages you would see in class? No. No, becaus what you to death, extremely. How does the FCAT compare to test you take in your En glish class? Is it similar? No. questions are not straight out on the FCAT, they like try to put you in circles with one straight out the back. Tell me about when you have to write an essay, just for a regular class, not the FCAT. Tell me about a class where you had to write a Mrs Y. There is two types of essay, first one is persuasive essay and the second type is Expository Expository. Well I hate that. Both of them. Why? Because you have to stay on topic, right?...and I can lose


90 how did he jump, you know, all that stuff about that topic. That always happens in doing. Do you have to write for the FCAT? Yeah, I passed it. I did passed it. Out of 5, I got like a 3. It was incredible. I p assed it. I sad, so sad. At least you get a chance to do the ACT also. because th How do you feel about your reading skills? Do yo u feel like you read fast enough? I read fast enough, yes. My English has increased. I could grab a book and read it fast. Like, this 100 page book you have to read. How long do you think it will take you to read it? I like dividing myself by chapters. I depending on time, if I were to read it fast, I would say yeah, I would read it fast but then I have to read very, very slow. So you can comprehend what it means? the comics, but the comics help with the pictures. The e read that line. Do you do that? Or, do you keep reading the whole thing?


91 that. I keep going and going, until I finish the whole thing, and if I have to for any reason I go back. If you want to look at something specific? do with most of t A Series of Unfortunate Events ok I read, the three kids live with this dude. He actually take care of snakes. So the story was, the chapter 2 was way more complicated, because it was about some people, who telling he was drinking a venom, and I was like picturing it, because all those little tiny words actually gave me a picture as I went on. My dad keeps telling me to I may have to do that when I grow up, because I want to be a lawyer, and lawyers have It just takes time, you know. Have you written any essays this semester? No, no essay, person from UF who was actually teaching that class and we wrote an essay about it. It like a map in order to do it. Because most of the time Mrs. Y gives us a brainstorming 1,2,3,4 was like 1, 2,3,4 paragraphs?


92 a hook. Something to grab their attention. Yeah, somethi Y did that too, but when he gave us and I did that down, it was easy just to transfer everything on that separate paper to, you know, a normal paper. I wanted to ask, just about us ing the English language in school. What are your best and worst subjects for using English? Math. Yeah, my best subject is math. Like, you can write about math, or you can talk about math? Yeah, math and geometry. C hemistry, the worst. English, the second worst. History, fun. History is fun. Is it easy or just fun? Easy and fun. Kind of like a comic book the whole time. Like right now, what happened the events? someth the English? the En glish comes in. So, you have trouble with that sometimes?


93 He gives you too much all at once? Yea Interview Day 2 (Wednesday December 8th, 2010) compares to your other classes? Differently. My English has to go beyond what I use in math and social studies. Gotta go from being simple to complicated. Like, when they give me, for example, I always get a awkward way that I get lost so much. Like homework, I have to guess most of them, even when I read the book. This is the first year, the only year that science has been so complicated for me. Do you thi nk that it has more to do with c hemistry or just the way they use English in scien ce? Both. I know that c hemistry has a lot of vocabulary, but I also saw the way your teacher.. before her that actually quit and she replaced it with her. She actually did it differently. What she did was, she grab a PowerPoint and she makes us write about it and she tells she doe like that. th period teacher does it also. So, you felt that was easier when you saw i t on the PowerPoint and then you write it down?


94 th grade, I used to have, when I was in ESOL. See, in ESOL I used to have the science class called integrated science. And, that class was prett y much simple, because what I did was, have, for example, the test has about 6 sections or 4 sections, I take a section a day to study and read and comprehend it, you kno the first time I actually tried it, my grade come out to be a low grade. I was actually surprised. I was like, oh my god! So just reading the chapters is not enough? No. That's why it takes so much time to study even one section of the test, to, you know, to comprehend and understand it. Yeah, they're so much vocabulary in chemistry. Even when you read the chapter... ...Tha t's why I say I'm surviving, because I pass with a C. Does that science teacher ever had you guys in groups? Sometimes, not most of the time. Just for lab, not for homework, not for classwork, only for lab. It's mostly like, what I've seen, she does th e transparency, she gives you a handout of it, and then you just follow along? Okay. So she gives you points for it.... get a grade, even though it might be wrong, I try. Cause I won't get, you know, on my participation, I won't get like a zero. You know, cause I look at that What do you do if you have something you don't understand? Me? Well, I hate asking teachers. I h teacher and asking them, asking for them to give me this big long thing, but I do it. Just in case of an emergency. For example, Mr. S, the one with the bald head. So, you will ask the teacher if you have t o. Yeah.


95 Is that the main thing that you do? First, I try it on my own. Read the book on my own It's better coming from my own, because is like a puzzle. It's better, it's funner or to do a puzzle without looking at the picture, then looking at the pict ure as a reference for the puzzle. True. but I do it for, you now, for a grade. Think about the way you have to write for class, like taking notes, and the way y ou talk in class. How can you compare that to the way you talk when you're Well, to who? Like just regular speaking compared to in class writing and speaking. my teachers and I speak to them or in class learning, you know, we speak briefly, correct English, respect details and stuff, but when I speak with my friends outside, we speak ghetto, that type of, you know, said straight out, that's...ya, ya, kn ow. So, talking about your science class, everything you do: you read, you write, you listen to the lecture, you take notes. What do you think, as far as the English part of it is concerned, what is the most difficult thing that you do? Taking down the w ords Yeah, for example, they said something about the Lewis structure. I was like, what is paper that is when, you know, combine atoms and stuff, I kind of understood it. So, basically it's the words that, the definition's so complicated, because I'm not like teachers with those big words. I try to, you know, understand the,, and my dad keeps telling me, John, you have to read to improve your vocabulary, even though I don't want Well, even reading comic books is good for your vocabulary. Tthat's what I do when I'm bored, but yes. I hate reading books that are just like, word s, You like the pictures?


96 Yeah better, way better Is it that the words are harder to understand or just that you think it's more entertaining to have the pictures? your head. Straight out. Yeah. So, it uses more imagination, but it's not like it's easier for you? Like when you read a book with just words, is it harder to understand? hapter, complicated. vocabulary definitions? Yeah. Is it harder to hear her say it, like if she says a question or if you read it? What's Like if she just does a question up in front of the class. Like, if she just says t he Lewis structure for chlorine? Would it be easier for you to hear her say it or would it be easier for you to see it written? I like her saying it. I like people actually telling me how things are do, built, and stuff. w. Depending on the teacher thought. For example, my fifth period Teacher, he's entertaining he talks like strict, very straight out. He's awake. She doesn't elaborat that much experience. She stopped me after class and asked me if I know anything that would make it better or easier for students like you. Tha t's why, because she doesn't take teaching to a level that the student might


97 ACT stuff. It was a whole lot of trouble, because she gave me papers that were meant to use my skills, you know, for reading comprehension. Every time I took one of those I had low Like the one we did yesterday? Yeah, for example, one of those. That wasn't graded. Thank God it wasn't graded, but you know those papers individually. But every time I do the I always get bad low grades. Always always always, I always get mad at myself for it. I'm still surviving that with a C also. I want to get it always somehow, but yeah. Why do you think you have trouble with that stuff? I always ask that question. The trouble I'm mostly having is comprehending. o say words, I know how my, you know Mrs. Y, I used to be with her. She talked to my dad about it. Reading a passage with long words and comprehending the situation that I'm trying to get with, you for me to do, but I'm trying. another thing to say, paragraphs on and what you're supposed to do. Like, okay this is a good example, she gave us an article and that article has missing words and on top it has the words. It has complicated words, it has easy words. And then, you're supposed to fill it out and on the back it has like four questions. Well one of those things, that I hate the most, are those papers that she gave us. Because not ho w the words are like, you know, the meaning of always do, always I need my help from my friend always doing it because, yeah, that's kinda the problem that I'm having. D o you think it's because the words are in English? Do you think so if it were in Spanish, would a passage like that would be easier? Because it's your first language? Totally.


98 So, it has to do with like when it's in English you have to decode it all? Do you translated into Spanish in your head? Sometimes I don't, because that's what my dad does, but sometimes I don't, because I want to be fluent in how you present it in English. I just read it straight out, and if I know the words I mi ght break it down evenly, you know, by their own definition that I know of. tran would be happier, you know. Yeah, I would like to see schools where you see English and Spanish, but they How about, when you take tests for your science class, do you think the language on the test is similar or is it different from the language you usually see in the class? Like from the way she usually presents questions? Yeah, way different. Way differ ent? Way different. 100%. But what about it? Okay, for example, take my fifth period teacher. He gave us this assignment back. They his name. Well, he doesn't do that. He writes the whole definition backwards. Different The answer is Abraham Lincoln saved the Cold War. But I'm like, I didn't study that, I studied the Abraham Lincoln. You know, I go by the study guide. know, do it. That's h ow come I get low test grades, not that low, but low test grades on Mr. S's class, my fifth period teacher, you know, it's complicated. Okay, so they use different wording on the test and that makes it harder? Yeah


99 I wanted to see if you could compare the way you see English on a test, like when someone asks you a question on a test, to a question you would just hear outside of school. Well, if the test, it's more complicated. The test is complicated, real complicated. Not my best friend, I don't like it, its just complicated. Questions outside are more brief. Like Even though you use complex words like infinity? Yeah, like infinity Yeah, there you go. What I do mostly for the tests is I just guide myse lf on the sentence. ncoln is the answer. That's what I do mostly. You know, like I said, it's a type of shortcut. I play video games and, you know, that's what I do. I use cheat codes and stuff to beat the game faster, but yeah, that's what I do. You kind of just make associa tions to something? Yeah. I think I do the same thing sometimes on tests. [Bell rings for class change] Interview Day 3 (Thursday December 9 th 2010) I have some questions about what it's like listening to people and having them speak to you. Listenin g activities. Which teacher is the easiest for you to understand when you're listening to them? Oh for all of them? Well, that has to be Mr. S, because my first period teacher is him. He's the normalest, you know, nothing unusual, but he comes up with tho se big words and stuff. But Mr. S, he actually hears these, you know, word speech that you can

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100 Does he still use big words and things like that? No. No? He keeps it simp le? those big words. But if there's big words to identify, he helps identify it. Okay. I was wondering, you mentioned Mr. F, to me Mr. F speaks with an accent. Do you notice that he has accent? Yeah. this, his structure for his classroom is like: He assigns homework. Next day, you turn in out. He goes over the homework. Him, himself. Then, if it has new lecture, he teaches it. t type of way of talking. He talks to you like a friend? our body, okay? So you differently and it confuses you? sound]. fusing? entertainment 100%... I mean, if you want the students to pay attention to yo u, you have to have that way of speaking to them. Mr. R doesn't have that, he just, you know. I know

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101 teaching. He came in the middle. He's the new geometry teach er. Okay, like Ms. M? Yeah, but they're both the same. The only one that has a lot of experience teaching is Mrs. O, but she's boring And Mr. S, right? It seems like he has a lot of teaching experience. Who, when they speak, is the hardest to understand ? I've got to say, my first example of this is science, Ms. M. The second one has to be Mrs. O. Just because she's boring or is it the way she talks? Boring and the way she talks. What about the way she talks? words, like oh my God. Oh my God. Seriously, I know Mrs. Y sometimes does it, but not that much. That's why I get bored. And what about Mrs. M? She on the other hand, when she speaks she doesn' t speak loud enough. That's one thing. The second thing is that when she speaks she always speaks worried. Worried? You understand what I'm saying? [I shake my head] Like, I can see in her, like when she speaks she goes like," Do you people understand thi understand what I'm saying? That's why. She always sounds worried. She doesn't sound confidence in what she do. Yeah, I see that it's like her attitude is totally different, wh ereas Mr. F and Mr. S are very confident. Yeah, that's how it goes. That's why.

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102 I mean they care, right? They care but, you have to go like one on one with them talking to the m. But Mrs. M, I think she is worried. Every time she teaches she teaches like," I'm going to give you some practice sheets so not on e of my friends, but you know the girl that actually sits in front of me, the second one with the black hair. She actually disrespected my teacher and my teacher didn't do nothing. You understand what I'm saying? I've seen that happen before. If you want t o survive teaching, you know, and you want respect from the students, you have to make them, like this is not a fun place, it could be fun a little bit, but not real fun. You know, like work. Understand what I'm saying? That's what I do every day. I Just i n home. Get it done, yeah. So tell me what's worse for you, when someone speaks really fast or when they use a lot of big words? When they use big words. When they speak fast I can catch up the pace. I learned that You said that when you go to Gamestop [video game store] and you ask about a Like asking them about a shooting game. I bought a new console, it was for the PS3. goes on and on like [gestures]. You understand what I'm saying? Sounds like he's overloading you with inform ation. Um, hum. [yes]

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103 Um, hum. [yes] He gives a brief summary of what the game is about. He gives a brief summary ? like a guy with a sniper rifle and shooting someone, then this is the game for he sometimes breaks it down, but when he starts ,you know, actually talking to you he's some big words, and Do you notice that when you speak with somebody you already know, like a friend or a tea cher, is it very different from when you're speaking with somebody just met? Yeah And why? Or what do you think is different? Well, let's have for example someone I know, I call them names for fun, naturally. Kind of sarcastic actually, but when you meet s omeone new you cannot call them that. And say you try to make a joke. Sometimes they laugh, because you know they laugh, but sometimes with other people you don't kn ow and they won't laugh. It just depends on your personality that you have. It's very difficult for me, you know, to think in like, you he's Dominican and used to speak you know, Spanish. I told him, I'd call him up and, that's different than, you kno w, to a guy. I have to go, [spoken in extra polite tones] trouble expressing yourself in English? Like, you know something you want to say, but because of the English language you can't say it? I was kind of what happened. That's how come I improved in my English, because my

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104 how to explain i So that's, from them on I started, you know, becoming more explaining it. But like sometimes, the first time I ever went to school which was like fourth grade, and I didn't God I was in ESOL class because we stayed in there most of the time. I went to the ESOL class water ? I just s know, it was very hard. But now, for now, at this time, I explain more things very briefly. Like, if I want to ask the question about, let's say for Mr. S, I want to ask a questio n and I went into my notes and didn't find him. Can you please tell me who is he? And he ore, more reason I have English that have improved talking outside, talking inside, talking with teachers, you know. How does it compare, like expressing yourself in school, to teachers and expressing yourself, in English, to your friends? To my friends it 's very differently because my teacher has to explain very details, but my friends I don't have to. With teachers I have to explain the who, the how, the what, and them? Why know? So do you ever notice sometimes you're talking to your friends in English, not in Spanish b ecause I know you can kinda say whatever you want in Spanish, but do you ever try to talk to your friends in English and you can't say something you want to say? Now recently, I don't have that much of a problem, but sometimes I do. Like for example, not t alking but kind of, you know, chatting on Facebook, spelling. I kind of don't say tho You don't have to get all complex? Yeah, I understand

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105 Oh yeah, I wanted to ask you. In science class, remember when you were doing Lewis structure and once you got it you went over and explained it to some people. And you explained it to, what's the kid's name, Chu Chi, in Spanish. And I wanted to ask you, does it help you when you translate something into Spanish? Yeah, very much. Very much. I explained it to him very brieffully, I didn't explain it like, the back of the book. You go find the name, you look in the group, if it's 13 and on, you get that number, subtract by 10, if it's not don't. Then you got the symbol, put it in the bottom. How many numbers are dis tracted from that, you put the dots and then you find the other one. The Lewis structure is put the first one in the middle and the other ones around it and telling arrows which one they share for them to complete eight. I'm just wondering do you think it helped you understand it when you repeated it in Spanish? I noticed you expla ining to some kids in English, like some girls, and then... It helps me because I'm more fluent in Spanish and I'm not fluent 100% in English. I get things in Spanish. Sometimes I don't do that that much though when I get complicated I try to explain thing s to someone else and the way they are. Because I learned that from my father; how to be a more explainable person. Like one of the things that I have to do to him in order to explain myself is my videogame. And one of the games, because I play every Wed nesday and Thursday and Friday at eight o'clock. And the game is about, you know, being strategized, it's about shooting. It's about six people you know of versus six other randoms you don't know of. It's about being a team, having, you know, strategies an d a map, you two different type of levels and stuff. Well you have to explain your team, you have to go in with a mic, and explain your team, "Okay, team, you my friend, I say the name, I don't know, have the mouse, you know, you go to the middle and then how I got more used to it. And then my father every time I speak to him in Spanish, I always tal k to him, and then every time I talk to him he explains things to me briefully. study gui over and over again. Yeah and repeat it talking, you know, like a mirror, like oh my God, o kay. You know. Simple.

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106 Yeah, you repeat it to yourself? That's what I do too, yeah. Let's see, so I know you like history but you don't like Spanish, I mean um, science. Can you compare what it's like when you read your science book versus reading your his tory book? your mind. Like there's like, you know, slides of pictures. Like this dude killed this dude. and when you look at the book it explains why this is this. It's interesting in a way Do yo u get pictures in your head of what reading? Sometimes I do, but for studying only not for entertainment, you know. But for studying I every time I take the test I remember Interview Day 4 ( December, 2010) I wanted to start by asking you about test questions, like the wording of the test questions. I got this example from your geom etry test. When you see a word problem, or just like something that's not even a word problem just a lot of Totally. Totally. It says, the triangle shape of the house has a congr uent angle to the No, not at all, right? No, it's like complicated. They're trying to trick you. And the questions, you know what I mean, reminds me a lot of FCAT. The way they like do that is ve ry hard. I have to read and like, you know, and that word congruent leg. I go like okay. So, I see that word congruent leg. What is a congruent leg? A congruent leg is when you have a triangle and that little side that's going that way that is a congruent, and that's how I explain it to leg. So this is a house, this is a roof, talking about this, so it has a congruent. So this

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107 Like the English part of it? Number eight? know? or that last one in the back. Really, really confusing. All the way to the back. Right there. The one that I got wrong. That one. The big one, right here. Number 41? Yeah, Because I'm supposed to know the are hard. I hate that. I'm trying to figure out, you know, is it the way that the English is worded? Yes it is very tricky. It's not simple. Because I know there's a part where everybody, even native English speakers, hav e to remember the definition of a word like congruent. You know, we all have Most of the time, what I mostly do is translate it into Spanish. You translate it to Spanish? When it's really hard, not when it's real ly easy. If it's easy I could just read it and, you know, say it out loud. But when it's really hard to understand it I just translate it some way Spanish, if that word is, you know, if I know that word somehow. You know? erstand. And the way like, I don't know, M. Y told me this, that there's a difference between a comma and then a period. So ,if I were just read the whole thing, sentence, the whole question, I could get confused by the comma. You understand what I'm sayin boom

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108 just do. Doesn't the s ame thing happen in Spanish? In Spanish, when you're fluent you have a different experience on it. Understand what I'm saying? Because you know what to expect, but with English because I'm not fluent with it and I'm trying to be fluent 100%, it's very dif ficult. Very, very difficult. And it's annoying too. Very annoying. What would you say is the one part of English that you need to work on the Vocabulary is not that much For me, vocabulary is not that much. Because vocabulary, from another, like capital letters. Like which one to do, because I had a lot of problems with that. Becaus e I mostly write like the first sentence I don't write with capital letters and I need to work on it more, more, more on that. Conjunctions? No. Not spelling. Spelling is very poor, but I don't do worry about that much about spelling. I mean, you know? It 's very difficult. to end the sentence I'm supposed to know how to put a period. And you know, continue it out if I want to, you know like, stick to the sentence and put something based on that sentence. I would put it comma in the middle, put the same thing that, you know, is So do you think that you need more improvement writing or reading? More improvement o n writing and, you know, doing grammar, and doing, you know, those types of things. Because reading I could pronounce, I could know a big word and words that I know of, it's called enl enlightenment. Enlightenment. So, I go like oh my Then, it's supp osed to, you know, shine on something. You know, and then I break it down that way as I go. I mean reading is not that difficult for me right now at my age, but grammar, like I said before, when you like write an essay or, you know, it's annoying

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109 What do you think you need to work on most to achieve your goal of getting into college? know, in myself in English has to be speaking. Okay, speaking like how? Not gang me to have a higher learning, you know, way of speaking to him, explaining things to one of the things I should really work on. Can you describe more of what you would say the differences are between what you said, gangster speaking, and proper sp Gangster speaking. Well if I were talking about gangster speaking it would be like my You see what I'm saying? It's a very big difference of the way that you have to present go clapping. You know, very streets type of style. That's the way I wanted to say it. So there something different going on in the classroom? Different. Different. Very different. And I have to, you know, actually practice on that based on how I can explai n things to teachers, people, my dad. My dad is one of them. I mean my dad actually sits me down and he goes like, "what you did on geometry? I stuff to him cause if I be very difficult for me. Do you explain it to him in Spanish? Yeah, Spanish. That's the thing. That's the most language, he doesn't even know how to speak that much English. He knows how to speak English but he's not fluent like me. That's the main part of it apparently, yeah.

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110 And one day they called my dad. It didn't happen that much though. But they called my I use for, you know the thing that I use when I'm bored my videogame system, you know. And he said," the only way you can get it back is when the next report card come s out you better show me that you do it proper." So that's what I did. And that worked for you? Yes. Very much That's good. That's important because you have to keep those periods of to reach your goals of going to college, being a lawyer, right? Yeah What one thing do you need the most work on to pass the FCAT, in your opinion? Reading between the lines. Yeah, like that's the main reason I failed the FCAT Reading. Reading between the lines. Like, he author could say one thing straight out, but he doesn't m ean that, he means something different. That's the main purpose of why I get bad grades in the FCAT. Here's a question. It's kind of a weird question. But if you never had to go to school again, no more high school, no more college for whatever reason, ima ginary, would you keep studying English? Because I have to. Because if I don't get a good education I will live my life without, you kno w, a good house, a good job, to my future. If there was no more school for me, then And speaking Spanish? Yeah, like that, with my dad. So, we talked about when you were first learning English. Yo u said at first listening was a lot easier than writing. Listening was like the easiest thing to do and writing was like the hardest thing. What about now, like where you're at now? Now? What's the most difficult part? For me, it still is writing.

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111 In schoo l? Yeah Do you ever write outside of school, in English? When I have homework, but not like individually, like for fun. You never write a letter or a note? Yeah, in Facebook. Yeah. When I talk to my friends, but I speak it, I speak it slang, not proper. L h i s] I write the [d Yeah, because Spanish is like straight out. It's not like English. Like you said something and you mean it straight out, but in English it's ver y different. In English you could say something and you could mean another different thing. Do you have an example? remember that Mrs. Y said that that you could use one wo rd but it could mean have two definitions to it depending on how you use it. And it's, you know, difficult So, does that kind of thing happen to you on Facebook just like it does in the classroom? ody sends me messages. I have to send the message to them. But anytime that Facebook itself is explaining to me some accept an agreement and you're supposed to read the whole thing. I don't mostly read Yeah I get confused by those things too. Sometimes I feel like they do that on There are a lot of words to it. Very difficult.

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112 I hope that when I grow older I should be able to have no problem with English. Because if I want to become a lawyer I should be able to know how to read very good without the pictures, you know. I should be able to learn how to speak fluently without any problems and have professionally too. Yeah, so I kind of have to, you know, study every Yeah, you have to work on it, you know. From what I've seen, what would probably help you a lot is to read more. I know you said you don't like to read that Yeah, that's what my dad keep telling me. It really helps. Get something you l ike to read for fun and just by reading it you Pronunciation too. Yeah, maybe pronunciation too. Especially if you make sure you understand That's why I like to read comic books, because it's interest ing and it's also helping me. Is there a different kind of English for the classroom than outside the classroom? Like, do you think in school they make you learn a different kind of English the n you would need if you were just in the real world? Yes. That's a yes question. The ESOL teachers and people from outside have different explaining things. Like ESOL teac hers tend to, you know, sit down and use the most effective way to explain to you and break it down for you things that you don't understand. They use, for example, using big words like I don't know, effectiveness. e teacher doesn't use the dictionary, she But with outside doing, or talking, or seeing it's not the same thing. It's like 50%, not, speak with my sister in Spanish, but if I speak gave me, but I use it in a way that it doesn't even, does not even, how you say it, it's not

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113 and I go like, "Hey bus driver, you driving so slow!" You know, she's going to laugh, right?. But if my teacher were telling a story of a bus driver that was driving so slow, she would use like," Why is way they are, you kno w, compared to each other. Like in school when you sit down you're supposed to like know the things deep inside Pizza. You're supposed to already know what pizza already means. Pizza is a big circle thing that's made of cheese, pepperoni. An d you know, you eat it every time you're hungry, but you're supposed to know that if you eat a lot you're going to die soon. Fat, there you go. Fat and c holesterol. It's very, very, yeah... Yeah the details, but outside, you're supposed to know already the details and you talk to people and show words that you already know that detail, kind of like that So you already know it because you learned in school, maybe? Yeah, some things you already know by hearing it, like I don't know, like the first time I ever came to the United States was, you know, when I'm in Georgia. Most of my way of doing a conversation with the person was not based on school. It was based on hearing other people talk, and seeing TV shows. Seeing most things in my environment, the way they speak, talk, way of communicating in English. I learned those ways but just by hearing. That's the me he cannot do that he has to learn it in a way he can, you know, comprehend it. But He can't just learn it by hearing it? Yeah, he ha Yeah

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114 That's what happens to me when I try to speak Spanish. [laugh s] Do you think that there are places outside of school, where you have to use the same kind of English that you have in school? Yes. When you go to places like Walmart. When you try to do, like they give an item back. You say why. You have to explain deta not going to give it back. You have to say why it broke, what happened to it, why it's not working. Or at Gamestop, you want to turn a game back because the analog stick broke or the game disc is kind of brok en when I try it out. I mean, but yeah. Those places that sister at home, I don't do that. I just go straight out. I say what I feel. Yeah. Don't do nothing awkward.

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115 APPENDIX E OBSERVATION FIELD NOTES Day 1. December 5 th 2010 Before classes begins : The student begins his day, in the time before the first bell rings, by gathering to socialize with many other students inside and outside of the ESOL classroom. Some of the students are currently in the ESOL program. Others, like J ohn, are former ESOL students. Some of the students gathered here appear to native English speakers. There are a variety of different languages being spoken here. Engli sh is immediately apparent as well as Spanish, and to a lesser extent Chinese, Japanese, French Creole, and other languages that I am unable to identify. There is a strong sense of community focused around the ESOL classroom. The students speak casually wi th one another until the bell rings for first period to begin. The lead ESOL teacher, Mrs. Y, bustles in and out of the classroom speaking to students and organizing paperwork. She makes herself available to students for advice and support with both in sch ool and out of school issues. Her attitude seems to contribute to the strong feeling of community apparent in this group. There are also several interns and teaching assistants present in the group. The classroom environment appears very casual at first g lance. There are couches instead of desks in this room, as well as tables in the back. Many students are sitting on the couches, talking or reading over books and worksheets. Some of the students are eating breakfast at the tables. 1 st Period :

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116 Math Mr. F. This classroom strikes me as a typical high school mathematics classroom. There are calculations written in various places on the chalkboard. There are a few posters on the e all in rows and th e desk is along one side wall. John sits in the back of the room and reads a novel during roll call. When the teacher asks for homework, John is missing one page of his homework. As the lecture begins, Mr. F asks the class, "Anyone you want t o see real quick?" A going to do that first before we move on." Mr. F reprimands John for reading his book during class and quickly continues with the lecture. Voca bulary introduced during the lecture: consonant increasing, decreasing, interval, flat, negative/positive, infinity. The teacher defines these terms as he goes. Mr. F speaks in relatively short, and what I would describe as easy to understand sentences. Th tangential detail. He has a strong accent that can be described as African American Vernacular English (AAVE).

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117 John is quiet in the back of the room for most of the class. He does not volunteer any answers. He appears to be passively listening to the lecture. The last part of class was designated as in class time to work on the homework assignment. Students were al lowed to work with a partner, though John chose to work on his own. Many other students also worked independently, tthough some students did work as pairs or a small groups. Students working in groups were frequently noticed to be off topic, and this behav ior was not corrected by the instructor. John appeared to be working on his homework. 2 nd period : Geometry. Mr. R. For most of the class. John read this comic book," Bleach." He tells me that in this class he feels bored. He also tells me that he failed algebra 2 with a D, so this year he has to take geometry and a general math class, instead of algebra or a more advanced math. As the class begins the teacher puts an outline of the book chapters on the board. He also goes over the agenda for the week. The class time follows along in a very organized manner as the teacher follows the outline that he has put forth. He teacher draws many geometric figures on the board to use as examples for the topics he is explaining. I note that some of the figures represen t 3 dimensional objects, though I do not notice any explicit reference to this fact. The students are obviously expected to understand that the figures represent 3 D objects.

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118 I notice that this teacher has very small, and somewhat difficult to read handwri ting. I John reports to me that he has no trouble with the language used in this class, he only gets bored. He states that math is a good subject for him. 3 rd Period: Chemistry Honors. Mrs. M. John tells me in the beginning of class that the language used in this class is very challenging for him. I observe that the classroom is decorated with many pictures and posters related to scientific content. One wall has a diagram of the scientific method. The desks are arra nged so that students sit in pairs at large tables. Bell work questions: (written on the side of the chalkboard) 1. How do ionic and molecular compounds differ? 2. How do their formulas differ in terms of what they represent? John reads question number two aloud The teacher states," compounds exist in isolation." The teacher places the transparency on the overhead projector. The transparency has notes, but nothing else, no pictures or other forms of illustrations, only word s on the page All students are given a handout copy of the notes that are being projected. Teacher goes over each section of the notes, reading and elaborating each topic. The students are expected to be taking notes on the lecture. Some students are taki ng notes, John is not.

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119 Lattice energy is introduced. The teacher states, "this is a new term for you." The teacher makes very little of elaboration on this point she does not define the term One student volunteers the John reads this co mic book for most of the class and sits in the back of the room in this class, just as he did in his previous classes. On the transparency it states, "if the poly atomic io n is negativ e, add the number of valence electrons to the number of corresponding electrons. The teacher provides examples on the board and explains the concept in fairly simple terms. Students are given a worksheet. The teacher does another example on th e board and draws Lewis dot structures to go along with the example. I notice that she use many other vocabulary words in the lecture that are no t given on the current handout. I notice that in her lecture that she uses many complex sentence structures whe re the subject of the sentence is frequently quite distanced from what it refers to. Her sentences are very long, and she uses a lot of complex and content specific vocabulary words. I notice throughout the lecture there is a lack of scaffolding technique s used such that I might expect to see in a science classroom. I am referring to the use of, or in this case lack of pictures, models, or other materials to support the lecture. A short video clip about chemistry is played, but it seems to only loosely rel ate to the lecture. 4 th Period:

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120 English 3. Mrs. O. In the front of the classroom there is a projector running PowerPoint. The presentation ion. The classroom environment is heavily decorated with features pertaining to writing and language arts. The teacher reads aloud a story that is also a murder mystery activity. The activity is designed to be like a puzzle for students to solve She gives the students a guiding question to write down. John does not write anything down, though the idea is for students to write this question in a journal. As she reads the story, she spells the proper names of characters, but she does not spell or explain any other words. John seems to have no problem with this part of the instructions for this activity. Students attempt explanations of the mystery as a group. No conclusion is given by the teacher, only ideas. John has very little to say about his explanation o f the mystery telling of the story. Now, students begin taking turns around the room reading aloud from their literature books, one student reads at a time. John appears to be bored with the material and chooses to read his comic book for the rest of the class. The class ends before his turn to read begins. 5 th Period: U.S. History.

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121 Mr. S. In the front of the class. There is a PowerPoint projected that says, Guiding Ques tions: Students have a worksheets with a list of topics. They use their books, some students work in group s to fill in their worksheets. John sits alone, as he did in other classes where he had the opportunity to work in groups. This classroom is heavily decorated with many pictures of historical figures, maps, quotes, and also a lot of sports memorabilia. Th e students in the classroom are noticeably more orderly, quiet, and on task than in the other classrooms I've been in today. The most noticeable feature is quiet voices. Students do ask questions of one another, but they are careful to moderate their voice s. John asks a question of the student sitting behind him. For the first time today, I observe that John is on task and doing his work. He asks the teacher for help paraphrasing an answer. I later learn that students are required to paraphrase what they re ad from the book instead of copying it directly. At the end of class they will turn in this worksheet to be graded. progress. He places a comforting hand on John's shoulder as he walks by and asks him, "What number are you on?" Students continue quietly working on their worksheets until the end of class. 6 th Period: Intensive Reading

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122 Ms. S This class is designed as an ACT prep course for students who are preparing to take the ACT a nd/or other similar exams. In order to be exempt from the graduation requirement to pass the FCAT, students must score in 18 on the ACT, which means answering 18/40 questions correctly in 35 min. I notice that John scored a 4/10 on one practice test passag e that the teacher returns to him. (See document #1, for an example of an ACT testing passage) board. She does not explain her use of this abbreviation, but points to John reads his comic book for most of the class period. Day 2. December 6 th 2010 1 st Period: that John understands the language being used and is able to communicate with it effectively, meaning that he can ask questions with correct use of vocabulary and grammar, and the teacher can understand him well. He reports that John uses polite s. John reads from his comic book. He sits in the back of the classroom again today. There is no assigned seating for this class.

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123 I have noticed the use of many abbreviations in this class. For example, the teacher The policy in this school is for textbooks to stay in the classroom. Students do not take them home, though they are available for use in the library. I look over a copy of the textbook while the students are working and notice that it has many incomplete sentences that are composed of mostly content vocabulary words. 2 nd Period: Geometry Today there is an in class test (see document #3). Students may use the review notes that they turned in at the For the most part, students work quietly on their exams. Based on his outward appearance while testing, John does not appear to have an overly difficult time, that is, not any more so than what mig ht be expected from an average high school student when taking an exam. indi cates his level of comprehension and ability to gauge what language use is acceptable for as an answer. He did raise his hand to ask and make sure that this answer was acceptable. 3 rd Period: Chemistry Honors

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124 Bell work: use electron dot notation to demonst rate the formation of an ionic compound involving: a) Li and Cl b) Ca and I The teacher goes over a worksheet that was given as homework on the previous day. Many of the students do not follow along, including John. The teacher gives the students an in class wo rksheet that is meant to be completed as they read the corresponding chapter in the textbook. I observe that John copies answers straight from the book, copying full sentences and paragraphs that seem to correspond to the questions. extbook notice the lack of pictures or illustrations being used. In fact, most of the pages contain primarily words, with an occasional pictures, table or diagram. The definitions of key vocabulary words are given as running text in the book. The vocab wor ds are in bold and the definition is contained in the surrounding information. This type of organization of text requires the student to decode the definition, since it is not given in a straight forward manner. Often, the supportive information contains o ther vocabulary terms or background information that the student must be familiar with in order to understand the word being introduced. 4 th Period: English 3 of the class. This is the same question as the previous day. All of the students, including

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125 John, copy this question along with other topics of the day into their notebooks. Primary topic: Civil Disobedience. A worksheet about semicolons is given to the class (Se e Document #4). John asks," What is a semicolon?" Another student asks the same question. The other student appears to be a native speaker of English. The teacher does not answer this question, nor is this question explicitly addressed in the worksheet. T person to find both wins candy. John asks aloud, "what is a typo?" His question is not addressed. I notice that this teacher does not answer most questions that are randomly asked aloud. I also note that she infrequently ask if students have questions. To complete the semicolons worksheet, the students have to place the semicolon in the correct position in the sentence. The teacher goes around the room asking each student to the semicolon. The teacher briefly explained the rule being followed with regard to where to place the semicolon and then gave him the answer. After that John goes back to r eading his comic book for the remainder of the class. It takes the remainder of the class to complete the semicolons worksheet, with each student taking a turn to answer one question at a time aloud to the rest of the class. I notice a large percentage of the class appear to be not following along with the activity. 5 th Period: U.S. History

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126 Today there is a review game for the upcoming test. The review game is in the form of a basketball shooting contest. Questions used during the game relate to topics on t he The class is divided into two teams, A and B. The teacher reads aloud the questions at Studen ts on the given team respond by raising their hands. The first to raise their hand gets the first chance to answer. The team gets three chances to give the correct answer. If no one on a team can answer the question, or if the team gives three incorrect an swers, then the question goes to the other team. Any student who answers a question correctly is allowed to come up and attempt to shoot a basketball into a small hoop at the front of the class. If they make the basket, their team gets one point. The teach er keeps score on the whiteboard at the front of class. John requests of the teacher, "Can you say the questions slowly so I can understand?" John attempts to answer several of the questions for his team and gets two questions correct. He therefore gets to make two attempts to shoot at the basket, though both shots are unsuccessful. Overall, he pays close attention during this class and does not read from his comic book, which seems to be a typical case for most of the students. 6 th Period: ACT prep class ( intensive reading) The assignment in this class is to do a cloze passage. A copy of this cloze passage is located in Appendix F. John tells me that cloze pass ages are very difficult for him, which I find surprising. Upon reflection, I realize that cloze p assages test students grammatical as well as le xical skills. Words in the word bank frequently have more than

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127 one possible meaning or can be used as more than one part of speech, and so the difficulty is in understanding how they are being used within the context provided by the passage. To be successful in this task requires a thorough understanding of features of the given words. For this assignment, John works with another Spanish speaking student to complete the worksheet. For the most of the class tim e, they just chat with each other in Spanish, not working on the worksheet. The teacher either sits at her desk at the front of the class, or walks around to help students individually. At one point, John asked the teacher to explain what a diplomat was. The teacher Day 3. Wednesday December 8 th 2010 1 st Period: Today there is a substitute. In this class. The substitute does not say very much only directs the students to do their norma l work. The students remain, for the most part, on task. They seem to be easily fall into their normal routine. John is doing work in his math book for about half of the class, and then he switches to reading his comic book for the remainder of the class. 2 nd Period: Today the students are making foldables John needs help with the instructions I noticed that the instructor speaks very fast when he gives the instructions for the foldable. That may be the reason why John is having trouble understanding. As th e teacher continues

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128 to give directions I noticed that his directions seem oversimplified to the task. I also noticed that many students seem to be having difficulty understanding. gin of the paper. Then they were told to draw one horizontal line 4 and 1/2 inches from the top, but when he gave the next set of directions he erased the first picture example and then did not put the first two lines in the second picture. So as he moved on to the second set of directions, it was unclear to John and to other students where the next line should go. This is also an issue of spatial relationship comprehension. During this class, students generally seemed distracted, off task, and are working slowly. No what one has been told with the ultimate goal of the project is. The teacher is permissive of the disruptions and does not require the full attention of the class before moving on to the next step. 3 rd Period: ybridization. Read VESPR and hyb sections to Today is the teacher is lecturing about the Lewis structure and molecular geometry. John pays attention and follows along once she begins drawing diagrams on the b oard. However, during the spoken part of the lecture he was mostly reading his comic book. Once John begins to understand the lesson the Lewis structure, he goes around to another group of students to help them. One student is also a native Spanish speaker John spends time translating his explanation into Spanish for this student. Both he and the students seemed pleased at the end of the explanation. Even though I didn't understand explanation, it seems that it was a success.

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129 4 th Period: At the beginning o f class, the teacher is giving instructions for today's lesson. I note that they weren't overly apparent to you, goals are a type of poem, in this case, a found poem" John The teacher continues to go over instructions orally. John loosely pays attention and does not follow along with the handout that is given he gives the handout but glance when it is handed to him and then does not follow along. At one point, in reference to the handout, the teacher says, "Think carefully about even bringing a picture of a noose because it can be misconstrued." One student asks, "What is the noose?" The teacher gives no resp onse. The handout uses what seems to be complex vocabulary structures. For example, r a complete description. 5 th Period: Today there is a test in class. I observe that John works very diligently, just as all the students appear to, on a test. Twice he goes up and asks a question about the vocabulary used on the test. 6 th Period: John ha s to finish up a cloze worksheet from yesterday, with multiple choice answers on the back.

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130 John is then given two ACT like passages to complete as practice. He begins by reading the questions. Day 4. Friday December 10 th 2010 1 st Period: John reads his co mic book for most of the class. Once he raises his hand when he has a question. Some students, their answers. He intermittently puts his book down and pays attention to the lecture. More examples of the teachers. AAVE accent." Now what you gone fine out is d] 2 nd Period: There is a presentation in the auditorium today, so many students are missing from this class. John asks and is allowed to go to the library to work on his history work A copy of the history work h e completed to study for a history exam is located in the document analysis section. 3 rd Period: Bell work: Two sodium ions are walking together when one stops and says," oh my goodness, I think I lost an electron!" "Are you sure?," says the other. "Yes," replies the first sodium, "I'm positive!" The teacher lectures using notes on a transparency. She makes lengthy elaborations of vocabulary words and I noticed that she uses very little simplification or scaffolding strategies The lecture is fast paced and difficult for me to comprehend. John has begun the lecture or is bored with the material.

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131 I notice that in her explanations, she uses many content specific words that are not on the transparency she has projected onto the overhead. 4 th Period: Students are taking turns reading from a handout that relates directly to the book. Each group has a different section that they read independently and then give a summary of it. The John reads his comic book. Many students are not attentive to the lesson. Mainly, it is only the group whose turn it is that pays attention until their turn is over, and then the incentive is lost and the students in that group stop paying attention. Most of the input in this class is given orally, even though the students have handouts to follow along with. Much of what is said is not on the handout. Students are now directed to play a Ka gen coaching strategy game where they have 12 cards with questions on them and they are supposed to ask each other questions from the cards. For the most part the students in John's group and in other groups do not stay on task. John is confused by much of the vocabulary on the cards. He asks me questions about some of the words, asks his group members, and then goes back to not paying attention. 5 th Period: Today in class, the students watch a movie that is a modern rendition of a historical event relating to the American Indians. John pays attention to the movie throughout the whole class.

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132 The students also turn in handouts that were given as homework on the previous day. One student has copied another student's homework, and gets into trouble for doing th is. The teacher also reprimands the student who lent him the paper. 6 th Period: Today, the students are completing ACT like handouts that they have been working on throughout the week. The teacher asks me to take John and another native Spanish speaking st udent into the other room so that I can give them more help on the handout. I guide them through completing the handout. The structure of the ACT questions frequently ask students to refer back to lines from the passage. For example," What do you think the main character is trying to express in lines 5 strategy that they have been taught is to begin by reading the questions. So when a question is asking you to refer back to the passage and you have not yet read the passage, it seems to make the question more difficult, in that it makes the strategy of reading the questions first less helpful to the student.

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133 APPENDIX F DOCUMENT ANALYSIS Each document has been analyzed for it s contents and the results of that analysis are presented here. Each document was assigned a number, for ease of reference, and is organized here by date. The specific class that each document was collected from is given in parentheses December 6 th 2010 1. (Intensive Reading ) Reading Test. The test is an excerpt of a piece of prose fiction writing adapted from Carson half long and is followed by ten comprehension questions. The passage contains some advanced vocabulary words that could be The excerpt begins midway through the story and so it may be difficult to comprehend, especially at first since it just throws the reader into the story. the type of exercise John will need to be successful with if he is to score high enough on the ACT and be allowed to graduate high school.

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136 December 7 th 2010 2. (Geometry) Chapter 4 Test. This geometry test has 46 questions Most of the questions are in numerical form, but two questions are word problems the rest use only numbers and/or diagrams, or letters that stand for numbers. Some key vocabulary words in the test are: describes, triangle, equilateral, value, figure, isosceles, midpoint, Because of the amount of vocabul ary words found on the test, it can be said that as their skill with numbers. The main mathematical skill being tested is the ability of the of the student to solve for the sides and angles of a triangle.

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145 3. (English 3) This is a worksheet designed for practicing with placing a semicolon in the correct position in the sentence. It begins by explaining the three uses of semicolons and the lists 15 sentences into whic h a semicolon should be placed. This worksheet was completed as a whole class activity where students took turns answering one question each. Students must be able to identify where a semicolon is needed or if one is needed in each example sentence.

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146 Dec ember 8 th 2010 4. explains that students will complete an activity over their Christmas vacation wherein they will select and read a novel, of at le ast 150 pages. Students will then b e responsible for build ing a display box relating to their book and present ing it to the class after the Christmas holiday As a part of the project, students must create a glossary of at least 20 unfamiliar vocab words and their definitions. Students must also create 20 questions and answers about the story. The handout gives a th o rough but lengthy description of directions for completing the project. The directions take on a conversational tone and include occasional vague remarks. For example the stateme nt that, provided of the finished project. It should also be noted that the handout contains some words and idioms that could be difficult for ES L students such as the word Following the set of directions is a list of suggested books that are acceptable to use for the project.

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150 December 10 th 2010 5. (U.S. History) This document is a copy of handwri tten notes that the research participant has taken on a list of key topics provided by his fifth period history teacher. I no te that the descriptions contain very few grammar and spelling mistakes, significantly fewer than I have noticed in other writings by the student. I observe as he make s entries onto the page that many of the sentence s are fragments of sentences from the textbook. However, he seems to be very selective about which fragments of sentences he chooses to include. He is not simple copying d efinitions word for word. He is reading the bulk of the passages in the book and selectively copying them onto his study guide. This is an example of the level of communication John has come to expect in this class. The page additionally contains a hand wr itten quote from the students describing word for word. I did that before, but I got a bad grade. He [the U.S. History I read the whole

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152 6. (Chemistry Honors) Handout contains nine questions about chemical bonding. Each question contains content vocabulary words, such as (excluding the names

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153 of chemical elements): electron, arrangeme determine, release, and energy. Some of these terms are noted be common words and not content specific, such as internal, acquire, react, bonding, release and energy, but these terms are taking on uncommon meanings as they are used in the questions. Certain questions necessitate the use of abstract thinking skills to understa nd be able to grasp the idea that a crystal has an internal structure that is not visible to the eye and not able to be detected with the senses; it is intangible.

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155 7. (Chemistry Honors) VESPR worksheet contains 10 chemical formulas and a the following molecules. Also, describe the structural pair geometry and the Though the directions are short, they require much from the students. Students must be able to imagine abstractly the physical form of each chemical compound. Students must also be able to explain and describe the structures. Success requires the use of many communication skills including drawing a diagram and providing the correct details to explain what is drawn.

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156 8. iday. This relevance to the course. The worksheet instead works to introduce students to common vocabulary related to the Christmas holiday. There is a specific type of understanding tha t is required wherein students must realize that the words given in the blank at the top are supposed to be located in the scramble of letters below. Students must know how to find the hidden words in order to complete the activity.

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157 9. (Intensive Reading) Cloze worksheet containing 15 words: following, relief, triage, onsite, stretcher, command, phoned, reserve, ribcage, pooling, drama, wary, medic, bullhorn, and spite. The worksheet also has eight comprehension questions at the end four fill in the blank and four multiple choice questions Most of the words can be used as more than one part of speech. The activity requires students to have an understanding of these words sufficient to determine which part of speech each is appropriate to use in the passage as well as the definitions of the words.

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159 APPENDIX G TRANSCRIPT CONVENTIONS bold Responses by the research participant are written in plain text. Pseudonyms or abbreviations are used in place of all proper names.

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160 APPENDIX H CODING TRAIL 1. 1 st coding process. Identification of key terms and reoccurring themes: a. (R) Reading, b. (W) writing, c. (L) listening, d. (S) speaking e. f. (D) Describing using detail g. (SS) Study skills/ hab its h. (FG) Relating to Future Goals i. (T) Testing j. (V) Vocabulary k. (Comp) Comprehension l. (IC) in class m. (OC) out of class 2. 2 nd Coding Process dividing data into groups according to environment: a. (IC) In Class b. (OC) Out of Class c. (B) Both, the description could apply to situations in or outside of the classroom or data compares or contrasts in and out of class domains. d. (N) Neither Additional themes developed during the second stage of the coding process: 1. (Con R) Context Reduced 2. (Con E) Context Embedded 3. (E Acq) Experi ences during early acquisition phase 3. 3 rd Step of Coding Process

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161 a. In this step, the categories created in step two are analyzed for their relevance to the central questions of the research study. All data is placed into one of two categories, relevant or irr elevant to the research questions. b. As a result of this step higher order analyses and inferences were made about each piece of data that was found to be relevant to answering the research questions. c. Certain themes were shown to be particularly common to t he academic environments and were thus found to be relevant to the research questions. i. Major themes that that became the basis for the Chapter 4 Findings: 1. The use of academic vocabulary words 2. Abstract thin king skills 3. The need to communicate and understand long utterances 4. The need to become familiar with the communicative practices and expectations

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162 LIST OF REFERENCES Anstrom, K. and DiCerbo, P. (2011). Advanced Literacy in Science: Language demands and PD p ractices AccELLerate: The quarterly review of the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition 3 (4). Aukerman M. (2007). A C ulpable CALP : Rethinki ng the conversational/academic language proficiency distinction in early literacy instruction The Reading Teacher 60(7), 626 35. Carcary, M. (2009). The Research Audit Trial: Enhancing trustwor thiness in qualitative inquiry. Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods 7(1), 11 24. Carhill, A., Surez Orozco, C., & Pez, M. (2008). Explainin g English Language Proficiency Among Adolescent Immigrant Students American Educational Research Journal 45(4), 1155 79. Collier, V. (1987). Age and Rate of Acquisition o f Second Language for Academic Purposes. TESOL Quarterly 21, 617 41. Cummins, J. (1 981). The Role of Primary Lan guage Development in Promoting Educational Success for Language Minority Students. In California State Department of Education (Ed.), Schooling and language minority students: A theoretical framework Evaluation, Dissem ination and Assessment Center, California State University, Los Angeles, CA. Cummins, J. (2000). Language, Power, and Pedag ogy: Bilingual children in the crossfire. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters Florida Department of Education (2011). Bureau of Student Achie vement Through Language Acquisition. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from Gee, J.P. (2003). Opportunity to Learn: A language ba sed perspective on assessment. Assessment in Education 10(1). 27 46. Gibbons & Lancaster. (2006). Operationalizing Ac ademic Language Proficiency in Bilingualism Research. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 19(1), 40 50. Guerrero, M. (2004). Acquiring Academic English in One Year: An u nlikely proposition for English language learners. Urban Education 39(2), 172 99. LeCompte, M. & Schensul, J. (1999). Analyzing and interpreting ethnographic data London, U.K.: Sage Publications.

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163 MacSwan, J. & Rolstad, K. (2003). Linguistic Diversity Schooling, and Social Class: Rethinking our conception of language pr oficiency in language minority education. In T. Richard (Ed.) Sociolinguistics: The essential r eadings Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. Manyak, P.C., & Bauer, E. (2009). English Voca bulary Instruction for English Learners. The Reading Teacher 63 (2), 174 176 Opie, C. (2004). Doing Educational Research: A guide to first time researchers London, U.K.: Sage Publications. Schensul, S., Schensul, J., & LeCompte, M. (1999). Eth Toolkit: Essential ethnographic methods London, U.K: Sage Publications. Stedman, I. ( 2006). Interviewing as Qualitative Resear ch: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences, 3rd Edition Colombia University: Teachers College Press. U.S Department of Education (2011). The Conditi on of Education 2011. National Center for Education Statistics. (2011 033), Indicator 6. Walsham, G. (2006). Doing Interpretive Research. E uropean Journal of Information Systems 15, 320 330. Warmoth, A. (2000). Social Constructionist Epistemology Rohnert Park, CA: Sonoma State University.

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164 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Stacey Ann Vargas was born in Gainesville, FL, and is a fifth generation resident of Alachua county, where she currently resides. She received her A ssoci ate of Arts degree from Santa Fe College in Gainesville, FL, before teach ing CP R. and Nursi ng Assistant certification classes for two years. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology with a focus in Cultural Anthropology from the U niversit y of F lorida in 2009 She then continued studying at the same university, graduating with a Master of Arts in Education degree in August 2011