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Final Goodbye & Research Thesis!

Hi and welcome back to another week! I hope everyone is staying warm and feeling excited about the holiday season. As I come to the end of my thesis journey I write my final goodbyes to all my readers! I hope you experienced the joys and obstacles of this writing process as I did! Writing during a pandemic was challenging not only with my academic life but my personal life as well. Thankfully if you are reading this we survived a pandemic, political warfare, and other craziness happening in our world right now. I thank you for coming back every week!

I present to you my graduate research thesis. Please click the image below to read!

Sneak Peak ( blog post 14)

Hi and welcome back to another week! Thank you so much for stopping by. As a treat, I’ve put together all the parts of my research project and created a view-only copy for you to see. This is only the draft of my report, I plan to complete the final pages and revise the document this weekend. Please take a look at it below and I look forward to your suggestions in class!

On Campus (blog post 13)

Close up of books on desk in library.

Good morning beautiful people and welcome back to another blog! With campus shutting down for the holidays and students off-campus I took this time to get on campus for some peace and quiet. I went to campus every day this week to access quiet rooms in the library and have a clear time to work without any background noise or interruptions. This was indeed very beneficial for me because I was able to continue working on my paper the way I want to. I will admit this working from home deal is not what I like. Even so, I know this pandemic has shifted and changed the way of life for many people not just myself. It’s important to make the best of any situation and utilize available resources. I am not sure when my town’s library will reopen again but I am thankful that Kean library is available during this pandemic (but with procreations of course).

Thank you for stopping by today, come back again next week for more updates!

Exciting News and More Reading

Hi and welcome back to another week! Thank you so much for stopping by. With the holidays coming up and thanksgiving day tomorrow, I am feeling so thankful for many things! This weekend November 21st my boyfriend proposed to me in front of my family and closest friends. The entire day was exciting and eventful! I am excited and happy about this new journey in my life! Please take a peek of the weekend below.

With all the excitement happening for me this week it has given me all the energy I need to put in more work towards my thesis project. I read more articles for my Lit review and continued working on my thesis research.

Cultural Adaptation in the ESL classrooms

Ernst-Slavit, Gisela, et al. “Changing Lives: Teaching English and Literature to ESL Students.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, vol. 46, no. 2, 2002, pp. 116–128.

Ernst-Slavit is a Ph.D. professor of education at Washington State University Vancouver where she teaches courses in sociolinguistics and conducts research on second language teaching and learning. In most of her work, she investigates language teacher education in culturally and linguistically diverse settings using ethnographic and sociolinguistic perspectives. The reason I selected to read her articles is because of her rich background in the field of ESL/ELL studies. I was so proud of her accomplishments and awards. She also co-authored the book Academic Language in Diverse Classrooms: English Language Arts, Grades K-2: Promoting Content and Language Learning, which I did not read but was able to skim through most of it and there were many key points and suggestions critical for ESL teacher success. 

In this article, she provides many of the same strategies. The purpose of this article is to tools to enhance learning for ESL students as well as providing teachers with the knowledge they need to enhance the learning process for ESL students in secondary classrooms. The article presents program models, outlines important linguistic and cultural processes and effective activities are suggested for students in various stages of the learning process. There is a constant repetition of the importance of cultural adaptation in the ESL classrooms. Ernst-Slavit stresses that schools should demonstrate appreciation and respect for cultural diversity. In one section of the article, she goes more in depth describing why ESL students need this for success. She states, “Educational programs need to include what students bring with them. Educators need to focus on what students have rather than what they lack. Teaching and learning can be extended and enhanced when participants’ own experiences (language and culture) are mixed with those generalizations and conceptualizations offered in schools. Such acknowledgment often stimulates learning and helps students construct meanings by connecting what they already know and what the new environment offers them ( Ernest, 1993).” Learning a second language in an academic setting is a long and difficult process. Ernst makes the point that this can be easier with cultural adaptation and teachers understanding the different stages of learning development that all second-language learners navigate through. I enjoyed his article because there is a point in my autoethnography writing where I recall the times when my elementary school would hold an annual multicultural day event in honor of all the ESL students and everyone in the school would participate. This showed me that my school environment was supportive and interested in my culture and the cultures of other immigrant students. As a result, this annual event helped me to be happier at school and learn better. Ernst makes this point in her article and although these points are targeted to the high school level, the same can be used to educate teachers in the elementary grades. 

Goals for the coming week:

They Say/ I Say- By Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstien

I pulled out one of my favorite books on my bookshelf. They Say/ I Say have gotten me through so many college essays and practically saved me most nights in undergrad, so I’m hoping it will do the same this time around. Since I am starting the discussion part of my thesis I am using this book to outline some of the things I want to say. This book has a collection of sentence starters and templates for every circumstance, including a section devoted to transitions which I love to use. I would recommend this book for any essay writting or discussion. Click this title section to purchase your copy on Amazon!

Thank you so much for stopping by and I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving day!

More About Theory (blog post 11)

Hi and welcome back to another week! Thank you so much for stopping by once again! I mentioned last week that I would be working on the introduction and rational part of my research. Although it is not yet the final draft both are attached below and accessible with kean email. Please click on the images to read.

This week has been another late night week mostly with reading and diving more into writing my thesis. Unfortunately, I ran out of all the black ink and have been reading journal articles in blue and green writing. (This was terrible btw). This is one article that I read and found it made a significant point for my reproach.

Ek, Lucila D. “Language and Literacy in the Pentecostal Church and the Public High School: A Case Study of a Mexican ESL StudentThe High School Journal, The High School Journal © 2008 University of North Carolina Press vol. 92, no. 2, 2008, pp. 1–13.

This article was an exemplary piece of ethnographic research. From the introduction to the conclusion the author Lucila Ek presersented a clear description of her research and the results. In her research she writes plainly,

I examine the differ educational experiences of an immigrant Mexican youth, (Edgar), in his Pentecostal church and his public high school. I found that the church created a nurturing and supportive environment for engagement in language and literacy practices while the school marginalized Edgar and failed to provide effective teaching and learning in either English or Spanish. (pg.2)

This ethnographic research was guided by the sociocultural theories of learning and development in addition to critical pedagogy. She uses both approaches to make a comparison in the ways Edgar’s ESL experiences were constructed by his personal and school life. Her research highlights the language and literacy learning that takes place in school and outside school engagements like homes, churches,  after-school programs, and community spaces. Essentially, all of her research made the argument that ESL students not only need the academic (pedagogy) but they also need the outside community (home, church, etc.) to cultivate a full learning experience. I want to use this article to add to the second part of my thesis that ESL students need family support to succeed in the classrooms.

More About Theory

During my class presentation I asked the question is my research study evident of social constructivism theory? Although I mentioned briefly what the theory Is about I want to dive into it more in this blog post because this theory is the underlying framework for my research.

This theory was founded by Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky in 1997. The theory essentially focuses on the role of social and cultural interactions in the learning process. The theory overall is complex and has many parts to understand, but to remove the complexities and make it more intelligible it is simpler to focus on the four key points that are the highlight of this theory.

  1. The first key point of this theory is the central role of the teacher-student relationship in learning. According to Vygotsky, adults are an important source of cognitive development for children. They can transmit their tools of intellectual adaptation that children then internalize. Adults are also an important piece for student learning because they can provide assistance. This is what Vygotsky describes as scaffolding. Scaffolding is when a teacher gives a learner the right amount of assistance at the right time. This implies that if a learner can perform a task, with some assistance then they are closer to mastering it. 
  2. The second main point of this theory is the inherent cultural and immediate social influences upon the student’s attitudes and beliefs. For Vygotsky, There is an emphasis on culture affecting cognitive development. He maintains that students are largely influenced by peers and social environments, thus their cognitive development is constructed through peer explorations and not independent learning. the environment in which children group up will largely influence how they think and what they think about.
  3. Additionally, another fundamental aspect of Vygotsky’s theory is the importance and power of language as a primary tool for the transference of social-cultural influences on a child. Vygotsky places emphasis on the role of language in cognitive development. He believes that thought and language are initially two separate systems. Cognitive development results from an internalization of language.
  4. Lastly, the theory highlights the benefits of student-centered teaching. Vygotsky makes the argument that knowledge is co-constructed and that individuals learn from one another. When students work in pairs and interact with other learners of the same kind they can exchange ideas and learn from one another. In his opinion, he believed that the learner must be engaged in the learning process. 

I discuss in depth these four main points in the rational section of my paper. This theory can be a complex subject, but for your benefit I added a brief broken down cartoon explanation for simple understanding. Please click the link below to watch.

Vygotsky’s theory is essential for healthy adolescent development. He makes the connection of peer learning and he also stresses the importance of adult interaction with the student. He maintains that adults should be knowledgeable and provide adequate assistance to students in their development stages. Students’ social environment helps in their development. Thus learning happens with assistance from other individuals. I chose to use this theoretical framework because my arguments that family support and ESL classes are necessary for ESL success are grounded in Vygotsky’s claim that language is a social construction and in order for students to develop cognitive functions they need the assistance of knowledgeable adults and similar peers around them.

I hope you learned something new today and I thank you for stopping! I hope you have a great rest of the week and a great weekend!

The Outline (blog post 10)

Hi and welcome back to another week! These days I’ve been feeling a bit of stagnation ( I know you’re wondering what happened to my gazelle intensity right?). But the days are passing by and I’ve been feeling the same routine happening over and over again and it feels like I’m so close yet so far away from the finish line. Even so, I pushed through this fatigued feeling and started working on my introduction. The hardest part about writing any research is the introduction part, even though I know where I want my research to go, finding where to begin has been mind-boggling this week. Nevertheless, I don’t want to lose sight of the main points I want to make, which is that ESL classrooms are necessary for immigrant students and needed in every school district. The second is proving that family support is necessary for ESL learners to have a successful education career .

I have made progressive efforts to make this point. In the last two weeks, I got into some data research and findings that were significant for making my point. (I know a lot of it was boring reading but I hope you were able to find something edifying in the reports.) Moving forward I will continue to work on my draft research outline (which I outlined below to give you a glance at what I’m working on). So far I have completed steps 4-6 and step 9. In the next two weeks, I will complete the draft introduction and rationale sections of the paper, and next month I want to complete the discussion of the research and conclusion section. 

Final Outline for thesis write up

  1. Abstract (1 prg) : straight and direct
  2. Introduction (3 pages): the purpose of the study & description of the study. 
    • More detailed than the abstract 
    • Background about what the reader will read. 
    • ( in this section describe how the paper will be structured and clearly state the writer’s main purpose)  
  3. Rational (4 pages): write a background on all research that has been done on your study topic follow this with what is missing) 
    • Identifying the gaps in literature & emphasize why it is important to address those gaps 
    • This section includes a discussion of the literature review 
    • A rationale describes the underlying basis for the study 
    • ** Don’t just say what you’ve done but EXPLAIN why you’ve done it referring back to your research and the information that is to be communicated  
  4. Methodology (6 pgs): Auto-ethnography
    • This section includes a description of auto-ethnography and what it is (from lit review) 
    • Include second free write ( an ESL experience)  
  5. Research and data Collection (1 .5 pgs.) 
    • Include information about census and reports 
  6. Data collection continued… (10 pgs.) meet the sources 
    • Include interviews 
  7. Discussion of Research (2 pages) 
  8. Conclusion (1 pg)
  9. Annotated Bibliography (6 pages) 

Next Week

Stay tuned and come back again next week to read a glimpse of my introduction and rationale piece. Thank you for stopping by. Have a great weekend! 

Stating the Facts Continued… (blog post 9)

Hi and welcome back to another week! This week I have been researching more research and data information about ESL statistics. There are two research that I want to share with you today. Both pieces of research are extensive in details and information, I will share some highlights and standout quotes. The first research is from A National Study of School Effectiveness for Language Minority Students’ Long-Term Academic Achievement. In this study researchers Wayne Thomas and Virginia Collier conduct a five-year study from 1985 to 2001 that “focused on analyzing the great variety of education services provided for language minority (LM) students in U.S. public schools and the resulting long-term academic achievement of these students.” (pg. 0). This study included both qualitative and quantitative research, the focus group was primarily Grades K-12, and the observations were all over the U.S from five urban and rural research sites in the northeast, northwest, south-central, and southeast. This research report was very informative and provided reliable data I will use this research in my thesis to discuss why ESL classrooms are essential in NJ elementary schools. Here is a snapshot of the entire report (please click the link above to take a look at the full research). 

Researchers have projected that 40% of the school-age population in the United States will be ELLs by the year 2030 and most U.S. schools are currently under-educating this student group.  (Thomas and Collier, 1) 

When ELLs initially exit into the English mainstream, those schooled all in English outperform those schooled bilingually when tested in English. But the bilingually schooled students reach the same levels of achievement as those schooled all in English by the middle school years, and during the high school years the bilingually schooled students outperform the monolingually schooled students (see Figure C-2). (pg.8)

The highest quality ESL Content programs close about half of the total achievement gap.


The next information is from NJ.GOV bureau of educational programs Bilingual and ESL education: Implementing English Language Learner Program Services in New Jersey

This report focuses only on the ESL population in New Jersey. This research presents a three-year plan for the New Jersey Department of education to develop criteria for English language learner programs. I love that this program design is targeted to all three groups parents, staff, and students. The report breaks down the steps to incorporate ESL in schools, how leaders can engage with families, and also presents statistical data for each finding. I plan to use this reproach in my thesis to present ways that schools can create ESL programs that incorporate the communication and participation of all three parties. (please click the link above to skim through all the details)

Both research studies aimed to understand the ESL community and provided resources and ideas on how school districts can best serve this group. I hope you enjoyed the information as much as I did. I look forward to connecting again next week!

Also as tensions rise amid politcal changes, I leave you today with a friendly reminder.

Stating the Facts (blog post 8)

Hi and welcome back to another week! Honestly, I’ve been so caught up with work this week I almost forgot to update you guys on what I have been up to. This week was a workload and to be honest, I’m very proud of that because I’ve kept a gazelle intensity with working this week and I hope that this energy lasts till the end of 2020.

I have been working on my lit review and it’s coming along nicely. There are so many books and journals to read out there that are interesting reads but it’s getting more difficult to weed out the best resources for my lit review. I’ve read some more work from English professor and ESL program Director Vivian Zamel about her theories and pedagogy on ESL writing. The articles were very insightful and edifying however, I did not believe that they were fit for my research. Nevertheless, I read more articles from other ESL professors and teachers like Margo DelliCarpini and Ruth Spack which I will share with you below. 

Margo DelliCarpini earned her Ph.D. in Linguistics at Stony Brook University and is an assistant professor of TESOL at Lehman College, CUNY, where she works with ESOL certification candidates. She has taught ESL at the elementary, secondary, adult, and higher education levels.

DelliCarpini, Margo. “Success with ELLs: Working with English Language Learners: Looking Back, Moving Forward.” The English Journal© 2008 National Council of Teachers of English vol. 98, no. 1, 2008, pp. 98–101. JSTOR, Accessed 23 Oct. 2020.

As a newly certified teacher, Margo was hired to teach ESL high school students in the upcoming fall. She was excited to create interesting lessons and activities for her students. However, she was shocked on the first day of school when her students were not as she expected. She found that the materials she prepared would not help her teach ESL students in an effective way. After just that one day she was ready to quit but she didn’t. She states,

I didn’t quit. I went back to the drawing board, revised, researched, consulted teachers from other disciplines, and sought out appropriate material. Eventually, I was able to teach these students how to read, how to write, how to get the main idea from a passage, how to respond to literature by making connections to their own lives, and how to believe in themselves. It didn’t happen overnight, and the students and I learned together. (DelliCarpini, pg.98)

Margo was proud of her success as an ESL teacher; she attributed this success to four skills, English, listening, speaking, and reading. She states that ESL teachers should integrate these four skills in English as a way to accomplish communication goals. In the classroom, she taught grammar-based tasks, practiced oral language skills, and taught students to read a range of information from street signs to product labels and literature. Her approach to teaching ESL students was personable and relatable and that’s what made her time teaching ESL effective. In the article, she writes, “Success is more likely when the content is meaningful and relevant to the learner, which leads to enhanced motivation, another necessary component in successful second language acquisition’ (99). I loved this article because it described both the challenges and joys of being an ESL teacher. Margo did not go into this career having all the resources but learned through the students and other dedicated staff what is most effective for new language learners and that was to make a connection. What she needed to succeed in the classroom was for her students to be supported in every way possible. From home to school life all of these factors had to be connected. I like the points Margo made in her article and also the facts that she mentioned were insightful and truthful. 

Another aspect that I really enjoyed about her article is that there were very important statements that stood out to me. 

As our ELL population continues to increase, the only way to move forward is to equip teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to create classes that truly address the needs of diverse learners. (101)

ESL classrooms are enriching environments and ESL teachers and students had the freedom to select subjects that were interesting to the students. Now ESL students are no longer exempt from content assessments so this makes it harder for teachers to have the freedom to teach them to learn but force them to learn subjects and skills needed to pass state test. (103)


Reading List cont.

There was also a lot of articles that I read from linguistic professor and author Ruth Spack. She has done extensive research on the ESL learner community specifically the Indian American population. Here are a few short articles that I read from her career as an ESL professor. The last one I choose to include in my lit review. 

  • Spack, Ruth and Vivian Zamel, ed. Language Lessons: Stories for Teaching and Learning English. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008.
  • Zamel, Vivian and Ruth Spack. “Teaching Multilingual Learners Across the Curriculum: Beyond the ESOL Classroom and Back Again.” Journal of Basic Writing 25. 2 (2006): 126-152.
  • Spack, Ruth. Teaching Writing for ESL Students. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2005.
  • Spack, Ruth. “Teaching Across Cultures.” Rev. of Listening to the World; Cultural Issues in Academic Writing; Decoding ESL: International Students in American Colleges, by Helen Fox; Amy Tucker. College English vol. 58 (1996): 592-597.

This article was originally written in 1988 it was updated and revised in the year 2001. Both citations are included below. 

Spack, Ruth. “Initiating ESL Students into the Academic Discourse Community: How Far Should We Go?” TESOL Quarterly, vol. 22, no. 1, 1988, pp. 29–51. 

Spack, Ruth. “Initiating ESL Students into the Academic Discourse Community: How Far Should We Go?.” Landmark Essays on ESL Writing. Ed. Tony Silva and Paul Kei Matsuda. New York: Routledge, 2001. 91-108.

In this article writing researchers and teachers get together to study the ways ESL writers write. These writing researchers create a goal for writing programs to create better academic writers and develop approaches to teaching writing. This plan has emerged in response to criticism of previous writing programs geared towards helping ESL students become better academic writers. 

In the article, Spack argues that when it comes to ESL writers there are two major problems. “The first is that there is a large gap between what students bring to the academic community and what the academic community expects of them” (pg. 30). These two problems create a wide gap in the academic field for ESL students because “even if ESL students are highly literate in their native language…the students lack of linguistic and cultural knowledge can stand in the way of academic success” (30). Even so, Spack asserts that “it is clearly the obligation of the ESL writing teacher, whether teaching basic writers or highly literate students to find a way to narrow the gap” (30). She provides two ways that ESL teachers can solve this problem. One way (as suggested by researchers) is to create writing programs to teach ESL writing as a discipline, the second is to state clearly what academic writing is and its goal. This problem and solution she discusses in her article is inspiring because there is indeed a gap between what teachers expect from ESL students and what the resources that are offered. I want to state in my research that ESL writing programs is one way that teachers can help close the gap and help ESL students succeed. 

Stating the Facts

I mentioned before that moving forward I wanted to dive into more statistical facts and numbers about ESL learners. Specifically, I want to know the percentages of ESL learners in the state of New Jersey, the resources offered, and how our state plans to move forward with immigrant student populations. I have completed a great deal of qualitative research with the case studies. This part of my study is where I get into quantitative research with data and facts. The data draw on a variety of reliable sources from the US Census, New Jersey state performance reports, newly collected statistical information, and information gathered in a series of surveys completed by literacy committees. 

The National center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance provides effective and proven learning strategies that work for ESL students. This educational report equips teachers and districts with the tools needed for proper assessment data and other resources for advancing ESL learning. Please take a look at the table of contents and other highlights below for more information. If you would like to have access to this information please clicking the image above.

There was a lot of reading and gathering information which I am still completing this week. By next week I plan to get more data and share some highlighted information with you all. Until next time. Thank you for stopping by!

Thesis Update (blog post 7)

Hi and welcome back to another week.

Last week’s presentation went very well although I was a bit nervous at first I’m glad I got great feed back from my other colleuges and professor. There is nothing major that I did this week besides continuing to work on lit reviews, transcripts and other parts of my research project. With the month racing by and the year coming to an end I will keep working on my research project and looking forward to more class presentations! 

Thank you for stopping by. See you again next week! 

Creating Intentional Communities ( blog post 6)

Hi and welcome back to another week! Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you are enjoying these fall days as much as I have been. This week was a fun week because I got to read some very thought-provoking articles from some authors who are passionate about creating ways to help ESL learners in the classroom.

Rance-Roney, Judith. “Creating Intentional Communities to Support English Language Learners in the Classroom.” The English Journal, vol. 97, no. 5, 2008, pp. 17–22.

This article begins with the author giving us a background of her experience with ESL students. She was an English high school teacher in a suburban district in New Jersey. She describes the experience of two students she specifically remembers who influenced her to write this article. The students Tu and Phan are two Vietnamese brothers who struggled in the classroom as she was teaching the complicated book, Beowulf. In the article, she wrote that she “felt like crying” (pg.17) because “how can [she] teach the new language of early English to her regular students” (pg. 17) while these two students did not know any English words besides hello and how are you. The biggest problem behind her worries is one she shares with a large percentage of other teachers. In the article, she states that “Statewide mandates moving the English language learner out of bilingual and ESL classrooms into the mainstream English curriculum” ( pg. 17). This practice she argues will not benefit immigrant students and goes against the No Child Left Behind Act (which she also goes in greater depth about).

In order to fight against this idea, Roney urges teachers to form intentional learning communities within their classrooms. These learning communities are targeted specifically for ESL students to help them pass statewide testing that is conducted in English. ESL students should have programs that are geared specifically to help them succeed and have the same materials prepared to help them learn and pass tests. After making this argument she presents a group that she created called The Cultural Share Club. This group she created is an example of what other schools and communities should begin to incorporate in their classrooms. This was also one of my favorite articles because although she discusses the ESL problems at the high school level I believe this problem can be seen in other grade levels as well. I want to use her idea of creating intentional learning communities as a way teachers can support ESL learners.

“Statewide mandates moving the English language learner out of bilingual and ESL classrooms into the mainstream English curriculum” ( pg. 17).

An ESL Experience

This week I also completed my presentation slides which I got a chance to show you some previews of last week. It is now complete and I am excited to share my research with you all and how I have been coming along with this research. Please click the image below to access the presentation.