Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Curriculum & Instruction


Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Bedford, April

Second Advisor

Barnitz, John

Third Advisor

Perry, Andre

Fourth Advisor

Speaker, Richard


The purpose of this research is to explore the academic and social experiences of English learners (ELs) in a Spanish immersion program. The researcher is specifically interested in learning about both the English and Spanish language acquisition of these ELs, as well as their social interactions as this pertains to their academic development. The participants were a sample of 12 Spanish native speakers who were working towards acquiring both social and academic English. Additionally, the researcher interviewed five other students who were in the Spanish immersion program, but who were not included in the ESOL class. These 17 students represented a wide range of English language proficiencies, ranging from emergent to advanced, and were in the ninth grade during the period of data collection. The researcher also interviewed five of these students' teachers, so as to gain a better understanding of the experiences of these heritage speakers. Data were collected over the course of the 2009-2010 school year through observations, interviews, sociograms, and ongoing assessments. These assessments were collected from several sources, including an English language assessment that was administered by the ESOL coordinator, an ongoing school-wide assessment of lexile scores, and an English and Spanish informal reading inventory. The findings of this study were divided into two meta themes of the academic and social experiences of the student participants. In investigating these students' academic experiences, the researcher found that the 22 participants placed a considerable emphasis on language development, particularly in the maintenance of the Spanish native speakers' heritage language. A sizeable need existed, however, for instruction that was better differentiated to the wide range xv of proficiencies that these students demonstrated in both English and Spanish. Through the analysis of the participants' social experiences, the researcher also discovered that a strong sense of community existed amongst the participants in the ESOL and immersion programs. This interconnectedness, however, led to an insular behavior amongst the Spanish native speakers, which further exacerbated the racial tension that existed at Greenwood High. Greenwood as a whole would greatly benefit from the fostering of intercultural sensitivity amongst this multicultural and multilingual student body.


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