Acculturation, self-esteem, and anxiety in relation to the acquisition of English as a Second Language

Magali A Paschke, Pace University


The major purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between acculturation, self-esteem and anxiety and the acquisition of English-as-a-second language. In reviewing the literature, these variables were repeatedly identified as key factors affecting the lives of minority adults, as well as minority children. The study focused on the Hispanic population as this has been identified as the largest-growing minority group in the United States, and more particularly on Hispanic children, since it is estimated that there are currently over 1.7 million limited-English proficient children attending school in the United States. Thus, the question raised by this study was how well these variables, acculturation, self-esteem and anxiety, predict the acquisition of English-as-a-second language. Measurements of acculturation, self-esteem and anxiety were obtained for 50 Hispanic children of kindergarten-age enrolled in English-as-a-second language classes. Cognitive variables were also included as these have typically been associated with achievement. The results of this study show clearly that besides cognitive ability, affective variables, such as self-esteem and anxiety, are strong predictors of success in acquiring English language skills for Hispanic youngsters. Yet the acquisition of English, in and of itself, does not affect change in levels of self-esteem and anxiety. Furthermore, the results suggest that optimal English-as-a-second language programs must address affective factors concurrently within the curriculum in order for second language acquisition to take place as rapidly and as successfully as possible. Educators must team up with mental health consultants in order to develop more comprehensive ESL programs.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Language arts|Bilingual education|Multicultural education

Recommended Citation

Paschke, Magali A, "Acculturation, self-esteem, and anxiety in relation to the acquisition of English as a Second Language" (1990). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9034642.



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