For years, bilingual programs designed to teach English language learners have been under controversy and debate. Dated as far back as 1958 to 1959. When the Cuban Revolution brought Spanish speaking people to the United States, mainly to Florida, schools were introduced to bilingual programs. In 1968, Title VII, The Bilingual Education Act, came into effect. It was a federal program that gained interest and supported bilingual programs. It was not until 1985 that the Secretary of Education, William Bennet claimed that the bilingual programs were committing an injustice to the English language by using the native language in the classrooms (Escamilla, 1998).
Some of the bilingual programs implemented today, show how there are mixed feelings on how to work with English language learners. Some studies show that ELLs become proficient in the second language (English), when the student has mastered their first language. Making it clear that the focus is not solely on speaking the English language, but becoming proficient in English academically (reading and writing). Researchers claim, ELLs will simply transfer over their first language skills to the second language (Kennedy, 2006; Lucas, Villegas, and Gonzalez, 2008; Medina, Escamilla, 1992). Statement of the Problem (contd)
Other researchers claim that students must be exposed to the English language as quickly as possible. Students need to assimilate, take in information, ideas, and culture to fully develop knowledge of the English language. Claiming that eventually English language learners will adapt to what is considered to be the norm (Pease, and Hakuta, 1992). As educators, if we learn how ELLs learn or transfer skills from their native language in both reading and writing, we will have the ability to prepare instructional practices that will enhance their English language academically. Statement of the Problem (contd)
Review of Related Literature Learning a Second Language: Reinforcing the native language will help the student transfer skills over to the second language ( Kennedy, 2006; Lucas, Villegas, Gonzalez, 2008; Medina, 1992). Classroom Environment: A student who is learning a new language needs to be in an environment that is welcoming. Promoting a sense of trust so students will feel free to express themselves without any fear. Strategies to Promote Reading and Writing: Scaffolding, collaborative learning, and students prior knowledge can be used to motivate students writing (Gort, 2006). mm
Review of Related Literature (contd) Bilingual Writing Development Very little research has been done on English language learners writing development in two languages. Though, there are studies that show how an English language learner writes in their native language or the second language, not both simultaneous ( Gort, 2006).
Statement of Hypothesis My interest in researching linguistically diverse students in the writing process came out of curiosity. Ive been working several years in a dual language program and I evaluate their writing often, but Ive never actually compared the differences or measured their progress in both languages. This research will focus on English language learners that are currently in a second grade dual language bilingual classroom. The study will focus on the process and development of their writing in two languages simultaneously. Specifically focusing on structure, conventions and elaboration.
The following questions will guide the study: How do English dominate students, progress in the Spanish writing? How do Spanish dominate students, progress in the English writing? What is the difference in the progress of both English and Spanish dominate students? Statement of Hypothesis (contd)