Optimizing English Language Learning: A Comprehensive Guide

Date

2024-03-07

Authors

Hwang, Sang
Hindman, Janet

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

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Abstract

Addressing critical issues in multilingual education requires tackling various challenges to ensure effective learning experiences for students who speak multiple languages. The article focuses on difficulties faced by multilingual students, providing practical strategies to support their academic growth. The study involved 55 multilingual students in Texas, predominantly refugee children speaking 38 languages on campus. The study highlights the importance of recognizing the children's unique needs and implementing effective strategies for improved educational outcomes and successful transitions to higher grades.

Description

Multilingual education holds increasing significance in today's interconnected world. While offering unique opportunities for enriched learning and cultural understanding, it also poses pressing challenges demanding thoughtful solutions. Educators and policymakers grapple with ensuring equitable education for multilingual students. These learners encounter distinctive academic hurdles while navigating new languages, cultures, and academic expectations. A research initiative focused on 55 fifth-grade multilingual students in the Texas Panhandle aimed to identify their significant challenges. This study raised two key questions: 1) How can teachers discern if multilingual learners' struggles stem from language proficiency or learning disabilities? 2) What practices exist in identifying and supporting the educational needs of multilingual students? The majority of participants were refugee children speaking 38 languages on campus, often facing academic struggles due to language and literacy gaps. Data collection, conducted by two research assistants (RAs) across 13 weeks, involved classroom observations, online surveys, interviews, focus groups, and assessments. This hands-on experience allowed RAs to engage with students authentically, benefiting their understanding of real classroom practices. The research outcomes aim to enrich the education preparation program at Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences (RCOESS), enabling future teachers to employ effective teaching models and strategies. Additionally, the participating school benefited from quality assistance provided by RAs closely interacting with multilingual students. Ultimately, this research initiative seeks to support multilingual students facing learning difficulties, their families, and educators providing services to these students, fostering a more inclusive educational environment. Before conducting the study, the researchers followed a structured process to obtain permission from the school, teachers, and parents of minor students. Initially, the researchers reached out to the campus administrators and then contacted interested teachers at the school. After securing the cooperation of a teacher, the researchers obtained approval from the parents and/or guardians of the fifth-grade students who were interested in the participation of the study. Once consent was obtained from all parties, the participants completed a brief survey either on paper or online via the Qualtrics survey platform. The survey included questions related to the challenges faced by multilingual students in the classroom and the strategies employed to overcome them. In addition to teacher survey responses, the students were also interviewed and their answers were recorded, transcribed, and entered into the Qualtrics online software system for analysis. Over a period of 13 weeks that encompassed a semester, data was collected resulting in the completion of 55 surveys. The study followed a rigorous and structured approach to data collection, ensuring that all participants provided informed consent and that their data was gathered in an ethical and accurate manner.

Keywords

2024 Faculty and Student Research Poster Session and Research Fair, West Texas A&M University, College of Education and Social Sciences, Poster, Multilingual education, Texas

Citation