Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Translation and interpretation as a means to improve bilingual high school students' English and Spanish academic language proficiency
by Cervantes-Kelly, Maria D., Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2010, 357; 3423830
Abstract (Summary)

This mixed-method study investigated how and to what extent direct instruction in Spanish-English translation and interpretation affects the acquisition of academic language proficiency in both English and Spanish by Heritage Language Learners of Spanish’s (HLLS). The subjects of the quantitative part of the study were 24 participants who were from six high schools with a large number of minority students. These high schools were located in Tucson and Nogales, Arizona. The participants in the qualitative part of the study were six case study students, chosen from the whole group. The participants were enrolled in the 2006 annual 3-week Professional Language Development Program (PLDP), held in July at the University of Arizona. The PLDP’s additive teaching translation and interpretation model engaged the participants in learning by not only the novelty of practicing real-life, challenging exercises in class, using their unique cultural and linguistic skills, but also by the dynamic collaborative learning environment. The improvement in the participants’ academic language proficiency was assessed through a battery of 9 tests. The participants’ perceptions of their experience in the PLDP were explored through individual interviews of six case study participants, their high school teachers and the two PLDP instructors.

The use of translation and interpretation to improve the HLLS’s academic English (and Spanish) stands in stark contrast to the subtractive teaching English-as-a-Second-Language model that promotes English proficiency at the expense of the heritage language. The study, therefore, expands research on minority HLL’s cultural capital that is not utilized in American education, where limiting the use of bilingual education for English language learners is the norm. The success of the program was demonstrated by the students’ newfound appreciation for their heritage language and culture, academic learning, motivation for higher education, and statistically significant gains in Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP; Cummins, 2000).

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gonzalez, Roseann D.
Commitee: Carvalho, Ana M., Moll, Luis C., Ruiz, Richard
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Second Language Acquisition & Teaching
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 71/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Language arts, Bilingual education, Foreign Language
Keywords: Academic language proficiency, Bilingual education, Heritage language learners, Interpretation, Minority language students, Translation
Publication Number: 3423830
ISBN: 9781124250212
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