Community-based adult ESL programs pursue English-only language-in-education policies. The problem with this practice is teachers use the dominant language to aid struggling students but exclude the underrepresented language group students in the process, inhibiting them from having an active voice in the classroom, thereby creating a hierarchal language structure among the dominant and underrepresented language group students. The question remained as to whether the hierarchal language structure diminished the social equity and sense of belonging of the underrepresented language group students. To answer the three research questions, the qualitative case study explored how an English-only policy influenced social exclusion or connectedness, how the policy impacted students’ active voice, and whether an English-only policy created a hierarchal language structure. To establish boundaries, a concentric theoretical framework on social exclusion or connectedness emerged for analyzing the underrepresented language group students’ position, cultural capital, and willingness to communicate. Through purposeful sampling, four teachers and four students were surveyed, interviewed, and observed. Using NVivo, a qualitative analysis software, searches for high-frequency words and phrases helped identify significant themes. Detailed descriptions from interviews helped gain an understanding from the participants’ perspective into the level of social exclusion or connectedness and its impact on the students’ active voice in discussions. The findings suggest the underrepresented language group students’ sense of purpose and need influenced the social connectedness. Students expected to speak and have their teachers speak only English. The teachers articulated the benefits of shared experiences and feelings of security if others spoke their language, but the students expressed no such concern. The teachers recognized personality determined students’ confidence level, yet students who did not share a home language also lacked English skills, which reflected upon their active voice. Four recommendations developed: teachers should use only English, administrators should place students more accurately, administrators should provide professional development training, and teachers should explore a more socially equitable learning environment. Future research could include examining a student’s sense of identity, using a translanguaging approach, the impact of motivation on the active voice, and the effect an ESL student’s potential has on achieving the new language.
|Commitee:||Mazze, Candace, Shriner, Michael|
|Department:||School of Education|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||English as a Second Language|
|Keywords:||Adult ESL, Cultural capital theory, Positioning theory, Social equity theory, Social exclusion and connectedness, Willingness to communicate theory|
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