English Language Learners (ELLs) are the fastest growing student population in the United States, with 57% of adolescent ELLs born in the US. They enter public schools with different levels of English language proficiency and often struggle academically, with 21% less likelihood to graduate from high school in comparison to their native English-speaking peers (National Council of Teachers of English, 2008). Long-Term English Language Learners (LTELs) attending public secondary schools in California are required to take a “double block” of English Language Arts (ELA) and English Language Development (ELD) instruction to move them toward reclassification from English Language Learners to Fluent English Proficiency status.
Because of the classic six-period day and academic requirements that take up the rest of their schedules, LTEL students are part of an opportunity gap, unable to find room in their daily schedules to take an arts elective, thus further marginalizing and depriving
them of an organic way to interact with the English language and their English-speaking peers. Through a pilot program, in lieu of the second hour in their ELD class, 17 6th- grade LTELs were placed in a middle school choir for one semester in an urban, public 6- 12 school, with their ELD teacher working alongside the choir teacher.
The purpose of this mixed-methods, quantitative quasi-experimental and qualitative case study was to evaluate English language acquisition outcomes and explore the experiences of long-term English language learners in middle school who participated in a choral music elective course, in which ELD standards were addressed within the course. This study was conducted in a single school within an urban district, and the research questions were (a) in what ways does taking the choir course influence English language achievement of LTELs? and (b) what are the experiences of long-term English language learners who take a vocal music course that integrates English language instruction?
For the quantitative quasi-experimental study, the treatment group English language outcomes were compared to those of three control groups—one of 86 6th-grade ELLs at other secondary schools within the same school district, one of 17 randomly selected students from the larger pool, and one of 17 propensity-matched students with similar demographic characteristics to those in the treatment group. ANCOVAs were run to test for the main effect of the treatment (choir participation instead of the second hour of ELD) while controlling for prior English knowledge. Findings suggest a lowering of the achievement gap between treatment and control groups overall, as well as a significant main effect of the treatment on the English Language Proficiency Assessment of California (ELPAC) overall score as well as the ELPAC oral score, in comparison with the propensity-matched control group.
For the qualitative case study, classes were observed, individual interviews were obtained with students in the program and their parents, and a focus group was conducted with the participating teachers. Data were triangulated during thematic analysis to interpret emergent themes. Data analysis suggested positive social-emotional experiences for the treatment group.
|Commitee:||Jiang, Ying, Hamilton-Bunch, Jill|
|School:||Azusa Pacific University|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||English as a Second Language, Art education, Music education|
|Keywords:||achievement gap, English language development, English Language Learners, music education, opportunity gap, propensity score matching|
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