Achieving Academic English Competencies: Perspectives From Mexican Adult Immigrants In A Community College ESL Classroom
AuthorDiaz, Kathlyn Spires
AdvisorGriego Jones, Toni
Committee ChairGriego Jones, Toni
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractMexican immigrants make up approximately 46 percent of the entire Mexican-origin population in the United States, establishing Mexican immigrants as one of the largest ethnic subgroups in the U. S. (Pew Research Center, 2012). Current research indicates that only 14.5 percent of all Hispanic adults have a four year degree. This is considerably less for Mexican adult immigrants compared to 30 percent white adults with a baccalaureate (Zarate & Burciage, 2010). Since academic proficiency in English is one critical factor for college success, this study investigates how Mexican adult immigrants acquire academic English in a community college setting and what strategies they perceive are effective in this context. Utilizing Adult Learning, Second Language Acquisition, and Social Capital theoretical frameworks, this study addresses the following questions: 1) What do Mexican adult immigrants perceive as challenges (for themselves) while learning academic English in a community college? 2) How do Mexican adult English language learner (ELL) students at a community college use their native language to learn English? 3) What teaching and learning strategies do Mexican adult immigrant students perceive to be effective in learning academic English? To better understand the participants' English language learning experience, the students in this high-intermediate English as a second language (ESL) class were surveyed. A case study was conducted, taking field notes, collecting writing samples, and interviewing (audio-taped) to identify participants' challenges and obstacles hindering their acquisition of academic English, identifying native language support mechanisms, and developing effective teaching strategies for L2 acquisition. Data was collected over the course of one semester in a community college setting. Findings from the data were triangulated resulting in three emerging themes, all central to issues in academic English proficiency: collaborating and helping others; recognizing the need to practice English; and being college ready. The first theme addresses the preferred and effective learning styles of the participants in this study. The second recognizes the need to practice English, a limitation of which is access to native English-speakers. And the third theme, college readiness, addresses what is needed for Mexican adult ELLs' success in obtaining a college degree. This study is useful for those educators and administrators developing curricula, designing intervention strategies and implementing effective collaborative and comprehensive instructional approaches critical for ELLs learning academic English. Implications for college and university administrators address intervention strategies which may increase college enrollment and retention. Also, SLA researchers could further explore technological applications for linguistic and social support, as well as cognitive development for English language learners.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition & Teaching