23 March 2022
Filling the Knapsack of ESL University Students: Support Strategies
Part I: Introduction
I was browsing through one of the social media sites when I came across a post. The post inquired which universities people would recommend having the best support services for ESL (English as the Second Language) students. The post triggered something I had never fully thought about before in depth. I reversed back to when I was choosing a university to study at and what factors I considered before making a choice.
I do remember thinking about their ESL services, but I was primarily focused on whether they offered the program I was interested in. As an ESL student, I understand the anxiety that the poster might have felt and the importance of choosing an appropriate way to make them feel comfortable and able to pursue their education. I was fortunate to find a university with established support systems for ESL students; thus, I did not struggle as much. In addition, my proficiency in spoken, written, and academic English was not as bad. This is especially true since proficiency in a language, specifically, academic language plays a key role in whether a student succeeds or not. In “Transfer in the academic language development of
post-secondary ESL students,” Jiang and Kuehn mention several studies that link the level of proficiency in the academic language as a key factor to success or failure (654). Often the people at risk are language minorities such as ESL students and at-risk minority students. Based on the post and my experiences, I could not help but wonder, “How can universities creatively support ESL students?”
Part II: My Research Process
My research began with writing out the question in its entirety on the different search platforms, such as the Proquest Research Library, Academic Search Complete, and the University’s Library Search. The results were fruitful, and I came across numerous sources that would help me advance my research topic and question. My keywords, which included “universities,” “support,” and “ESL students”, worked sufficiently. I found a few sources to fit my research question by adding keywords such as “creative” or “creatively”. Out of the search platform I was using. I found success in Academic Search Complete and Proquest Research Library. The limiters I added were a need for the sources to be peer-reviewed. A possible challenge was finding a source that would fit into my research question. As a result, I had to spend a lot of time as I needed to read the articles beyond the abstract to understand the authors’ intent better and find out whether they could aid in my research. Despite this challenge, I found sources that advanced my research question in my intended direction. I got help from Dr…….; She explained why my first source was not what we were looking for in this assignment, which helped me understand what I was supposed to do. From that point, it was easy to find sources.
Part III: Compose Your Annotated Bibliography & Reflection on Sources
Bergey, Rebecca. et al. “Serving English Language Leamers in Higher Education: Unlocking the
Potential.” American Institutes for Research” (2018).
The authors of “Serving English Language Learners in Higher Education: Unlocking the Potential” provides a description of a notable growing population of ELL (English language learners) in higher education institutes in the United States. Additionally, they seek to show the population’s diversity and provide key considerations to serving this population. The article covers key areas of the ELL population, such as the notable increase in the population, where in the U.S., 1 in 5 children come from or live in a bilingual or multilingual home (Bergey et al., 2). The authors offer institution and classroom level considerations to help support and serve ELL students at community colleges and universities. Some of the considerations are developing assessments targeting ELL language proficiency, using available technology, and developing a better understanding of best practices (Bergey et al., 9). One consideration that stands out is leveraging technology to support and serve ELL students. Each student can take the necessary assessment at their convenience instead of a set time (Bergey et al., 9).
Bergey, et al. ‘s article offers a critical solution to my research question, which entails using technology to support ESL students. Although I feel the leveraging of technology is important to my question, the other considerations allow me to expand my question beyond the scope of “creativity.” Especially since the article explores the solutions at different levels; thus, the solutions are not limited to universities but higher learning overall.
Ivanova, Rossitza. “Using ‘where I’m from’ poems to welcome international ESL students into
US academic culture.” Tesol Journal 10.2 (2019): e00399.
Rossitza Inavona’s article, “Using ‘Where I’m From’ poems to welcome international ESL students into U.S. academic culture”, focuses on international ELL students to find a way they could feel comfortable in the American education system. Inavona’s research is based on the understanding that international ELL students face a unique challenge compared to domestic ELL students, and one way to make them feel comfortable is through a “where I’m from” poem (Ivanova 2). As Inavona writes, such an exercise will help the students “draw on positive examples from their home cultures and multilingual knowledge which is endorsed as a pedagogy of student engagement and validation” (p.2).
The author offers teachers and instructors ways they can apply the “Where I’m From” model in the classroom and the implications of providing support for ELL. The poems mentioned in the article and explanations show the positive impact the model can have in helping students integrate.
Rossitza Inavona’s article is illuminating as it offers two solutions to my question, one, where it helps support the ESL students to integrate better, and two, it creates awareness among the domestic ESL students and native English speakers. The latter group especially helps them understand the invisible privilege they have been proficient in the primary academic language in the American education system. As a result, the source expands my focus to include the other students who are key to making ESL students comfortable.
Jiang, Binbin, and Phyllis Kuehn. “Transfer in the academic language development of
post- secondary ESL students.” Bilingual Research Journal 25.4 (2001): 653-672.
Binbin Jiang and Phyllis Kuehn’s article, “Transfer in the academic language development of post-secondary ESL students,” seeks to understand what influences language transfer in ESL students at the low-intermediate level. The article differentiates between general English proficiency and English academic language, which they encounter in the course and class material. They found that proficiency in the first language, L1 to L2 transfers, and English language proficiency are primary factors to ESL students’ development of the English academic language (Jiang and Kuehn 657). Where English academic language is low, the student’s academic performance is affected; they write, “If teachers focus on the positive transfer of skill that students have, it may be possible to teach these students ways to activate their prior schemata in the teaching of English vocabulary, reading and writing” (Jiang and Kuehn p.668). The role of teachers and instructors in supporting ESL students is outlined in the article. Although the sample size in the research was small, it established a foundation that can be used in future research.
Jiang and Kuehn’s article is a great foundation for my research as it shows why my question is important and why universities need to come up with ways to support and serve ESL students. The globalization of education calls upon universities to find ways of making students feel comfortable. Inavona’s article makes a critical note on how the international ESL students are affluent and privileged in their countries and often struggle to fit in. Jiang and Kuchn’s research offers a solution and shows how their affluence and privilege can be transferred to support the ESL students. While Bergey et al.’s research offer solutions at the institutional and classroom level essential to serving the every growing ESL student population. Thus, The article is important because it ties in with the ideas established in the previous two.
Bergey, Rebecca, et al. “Serving English Language Learners in Higher Education: Unlocking the
Potential.” American Institutes for Research (2018).
Ivanova, Rossitza. “Using “where I’m from” poems to welcome international ESL students into
US academic culture.” Tesol Journal 10.2 (2019): e00399.
Jiang, Binbin, and Phyllis Kuchn. “Transfer in the academic language development of post
secondary ESL students.” Bilingual Research Journal 25.4 (2001): 653-672.