Predictors of English acquisition in Spanish -speaking children in bilingual and ESL classes

Jennifer Mara Fields, Pace University


The major purpose of this study was to investigate the constructs of acculturation, self-concept, and motivation as they relate to the acquisition of English-as-a-second language. In reviewing the literature, these variables were identified as factors that affect the lives of minority adults and children. Since the education system is now struggling with educating a specific large minority group, the LEP Hispanic population, this study focused on investigating the link of these variables to the acquisition of English-as-a-second language. In addition, bilingual and ESL programs were evaluated to compare their effectiveness on language and affective variables. Measurements were obtained for 73 children who were either in bilingual education class or regular education with ESL support. Measurements of self-concept were assessed by the Piers-Harris Self-Concept Scale and the Inferred Self-Concept Scale. Students completed a motivation scale and the Nowicki-Strickland Internal-External Control Scale for Early Elementary Children. Acculturation was measured via a parent-completed Home Acculturation Questionnaire, and other items that assess acculturation. Nonverbal intelligence was assessed with the Matrix Analogies Test-Short Form. These data were analyzed with respect to their English Language Assessment Battery scores. The various measures were completed at two points during the year. To examine group differences (bilingual and ESL) mixed model ANOVAs resulted in main effects on LAB scores on time of testing. Significant interactions were found on LAB scores for: (1) school site with time of testing, and (2) school site with class placement. Significant ANOVAs for the affective variables resulted in main effects for Piers-Harris on time of testing and school site. Main effects were also found for the ISCS for class (program), school and an interaction for class by school. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were executed using six orders and found years parent resided in the US was a significant predictor. Results found that both groups, Bilingual and ESL, made significant gains in English acquisition and self-reported self-concept. Results found years parent resided in US as a predictor of English acquisition. Based on these current findings, future studies could investigate the links between parent acculturation and their child's second language learning. Findings would serve to guide the creation of programs that may attempt to enhance the adjustment of immigrant families, by aiding in their language acquisition, as well as psychological well-being. School psychologists can use this information to work with ESL and Bilingual teachers to create school-based collaborative parent-programs to address the academic and psychological needs of these families.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Educational psychology|Language arts

Recommended Citation

Fields, Jennifer Mara, "Predictors of English acquisition in Spanish -speaking children in bilingual and ESL classes" (2000). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9970556.



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