Adults who immigrate to the United States recognize the value of fluency in the dominant language as a bridge to social mobility in their new homeland. In California, many of them invest time and energy in noncredit English as a Second Language (ESL) programs offered within the community college system to gain communicative competence and enhance their opportunities for a successful resettlement. For this study, Bourdieu's constructs of cultural capital and habitus provide a framework to explore the experiences and perceptions of the participants. The overarching question was: What are the supportive and impeding factors that influence the noncredit-to-credit progress of adult immigrant learners who have completed the highest level of noncredit ESL? The 17 participants interviewed for this phenomenological study came from an ESL bridgeto-credit program at a large suburban college in Southern California. Findings indicate that the educational background and socioeconomic status of the individuals in their countries of origin had an important influence upon their choices and options to continue into credit. Their sense of self-identity and marginality/mattering varied as did the strategies they used to adjust into a new cultural milieu. Participants who transitioned in a timely manner had high cultural capital (earned degrees) and through their habitus (social conditioning) knew how to utilize support services to maximize benefit; noncredit ESL was their bridge toward reclaiming a more prominent and active role in their new homeland. A subgroup of participants had no intentions of transitioning; they also were of high cultural capital but chose a more independent path to meet their lifelong learning needs. Participants who postponed their progress had low cultural capital (limited education) and were ambivalent about using available resources; they had greater stress due to conflicts of work, family, and school obligations. Nevertheless, learners with lower capital made great strides in terms of social mobility in the United States and could visualize a future transition into credit. Recommendations include the integration of reflective and emancipatory curriculum at the classroom level, the integration of instructional and support services in noncredit programs, and the inclusion of student narratives in accountability reports at the policy level.
|Advisor:||Ortiz, Anna M.|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 72/05, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Community college education, English as a Second Language, Adult education|
|Keywords:||Adult learners, Cultural capital, Habitus, Immigrants, Marginality, Noncredit education|
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