Acquiring English as a second language (ESL) through apprenticeship: A sociocultural perspective
AdvisorGoodman, Yetta M.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe United States society is becoming increasingly diverse due to the arrival of large numbers of immigrant groups. Many of these children do not speak English as their first language. However, the U.S. Department of Education (1995) reports that only 15% of English language learners (ELLS) nationwide are educated in programs designed specifically for second-language learners. With English-only educational policies in a number of states, ELLs will likely be put in mainstream classrooms in which they may not receive enough language learning support. In most cases, a teacher in a mainstream classroom is not equipped with the proper ESL education to support ELLs through their transitional phases. It is therefore necessary to research the process of ELLs acquiring English in a mainstream classroom. This ethnographic case study examines the nature of a novice English learner's apprenticeship and her experiences in the process. Ying, an 8-year-old, whose native languages are Taiwanese and Mandarin, arrived in the U.S. 2 months prior to the start of this study. Ethnographic approaches--participant observations, interviews, and artifact collection--are utilized to answer two research questions. The research questions that guide this study are: (1) what is the nature of apprenticeship for a novice ESL learner in a mainstream classroom, and (2) how does a novice ESL learner experience the process of apprenticeship within the contexts of the home, school and community. The findings for the first question document the kinds of assistance and resources Ying received from the community, the school, the class, and the family, and the influence of the assistance and resources on Ying's development of English. The findings of the second question include Ying's significant roles as a collaborator, a resource seeker, a demonstrator, and a contributor in her class and school communities. She utilizes the strategies of tolerating ambiguity, remaining confident, connecting schoolwork with her real life experience, and making good use of resources in the process of learning. Based on these findings, the researcher discusses their theoretical contributions and pedagogical implications of sociocultural theory, comprehensible input, and balance of cognitive and situated perspectives in second language acquisition research.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading & Culture