TITLE: Being Valued and Feeling Good: Self-Esteem and the Perceived Value of Home Language among English Language Learners in a Middle School Spanish Immersion Program
Seeking paths to address the diverse needs of Latino English Language Learners (ELLs) in U.S. schools must be a priority of our national education agenda if we hope to build an equitable and competitive society for the 21st Century. One piece of this complex puzzle is examining the way language minority students feel about themselves and speaking their home language as they traverse early adolescence. A disturbance and drop in self-esteem during early adolescence is observable across all student demographics. Among Latino ELLs a strong ethnic identity, a slower and less intense acculturation experience to dominant U.S. culture and solid language brokering skills have demonstrated a positive effect for higher self-esteem during adolescence. These three concepts are intrinsically interwoven into the culture and curriculum of core content middle school Spanish immersion programs (CCMSSIPs). This study sought to (a) compare the self-esteem of ELLs who participate in a CCMSSIP with that of ELLs who attend the same school but do not participate in the CCMSSIP and (b) attempt to identify a correlation between self-esteem levels and the perceived value of ELLs home language use at school. No positive impact on self-esteem was found among ELLs who participated in the CCMSSIP compared with those who did not. Normal and high levels of perceived value of home language were discovered among nearly all ELLs. Latino Spanish speakers scored particularly high values of home language. All results are limited by a small and disproportionate sample. Results generated new theories and recommendations for future research are discussed.
THESIS DEFENDED and APPROVED: Fall 2016