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Title: SISD Interviews of Instructors and Students on Sheltered English for Immigrants

Major Contributors:

Lab(s) Name(s):

Project URL:

Project Coverage:


Project Date(s):

Major Contributors

Ana Huerta-Macias (UTEP, Dept. of Teacher Education), Kerrie Kephart (UTEP, Dept. of Teacher Education) , Maria Blume (UTEP, Dept. of Languages and Linguistics.)

Lab (s) Name (s):


Coverage (countries)

El Paso, Texas


English and Spanish


Project sttarted at January, 2007


This project is an extension of small a preliminary research project done by Drs. Macías and Kephart on native language use in adult ESL classes. The current project will expand this work to the secondary school arena. Personal visits to Montwood High School led to the discovery of a unique sheltered English program at the school. The program’s objective is to transition English-language learners into mainstream English-only classes by providing them sheltered English instruction with native language support. The program includes English-language development as well as content area instruction so that they do not fall behind in their academics. Of particular interest to the investigators is the language arts component of the program: English Language Arts is taught in Spanish with use of English, the second language, as appropriate. The students appear to be doing well, as per the gains indicated on the standardized language and content area assessments. This particular program provides some intriguing research questions regarding the use of the native language as a medium of instruction for both content area and English-language instruction. These research questions are listed below.

The project is highly relevant to instruction for our U.S.-Mexico Borderland students. The outcomes will have some strong implications for the preparation of pre-service and in-service teachers who work with ELLs; it will inform classroom practice with respect to language(s) as a medium of instruction. The project also fills a gap in the research literature in bilingual education which has traditionally focused on the use of English or Spanish in instruction but has not addressed the issue of the use of both languages concurrently as best practice. The intent is to use this pilot project as a springboard for the design of a larger research study, hopefully funded by an external grant.


To find out what is the impact on student learning in the content area of English language arts when the native language is used as the primary language of instruction?


1. What are the differences in outcomes on mandated language and content area measures between ELLs (English language learners) who were taught language arts using the native language and English versus those who were taught the content using English-only instruction?

2. What are the differences in outcomes as based on pre-assessment scores on the English language proficiency measure (the LAS test)?

3. Which students benefit the most from native language instruction in the content area – as opposed to instruction in the second language, English? What are their characteristics?

4. How can program design for ELLs at the secondary level be informed by research outcomes on the use of the native language as a medium of instruction?

5. Do teachers of ELLs see native language instruction as a viable method for learning by ELLs?

6. Do teachers of ELLs find that they are prepared to provide instruction in a given content area in Spanish?

7. What are the gaps in professional development of teachers of ELLs wishing to engage in a model of instruction that utilizes the native language of the student for content area learning?


The study would include Part A and Part B and have a mixed methods design. A t-test at the .05 level of significance would be used to test a null hypothesis Hypothesis: There is no difference in outcome scores among students who follow a model of instruction using the native language vs. those who follow a model using English only.

Part A: A purposive sample of 4 groups of students with matched characteristics would be obtained. Language pre-assessment measures would be recorded for all students; as well as other available measures as per district policies. Two groups would follow the native language instructional design for English content area; two would follow the traditional all-English design. Outcomes for both groups would be compared as based on the post-assessment language measures and TAKS scores in the area of English language arts. Sample classes would be audiotaped and transcribed in order to document the use of language in those classes and the content area teaching.

Part B: The second part of the study would include teacher surveys and possibly interviews with the teachers in order to respond to the questions regarding teacher preparation.



We have just received approval from the ORSP and the School District. We will start collecting data on Fall 2007.


Graduate student: Ana Areas da Luz Fontes, Psychology Department. Affiliated Faculty: Ana Schwartz, Psychology Department,