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Culture, parents, and course selection : a case study of Chinese ESL students in a British Columbia secondary school Espinoza, Victor Marcelo

Abstract

The following is a case study of grade 12 English as a Second Language (ESL) students enrolled in a British Columbia secondary school during the 2001-2002 academic year. The principal objective of this research was to uncover the following: 1) if ESL students made course choices at grade 12 which differed from those of non-ESL student choice patterns at grade 12; 2) the role of familial preferences, cultural influences and prior learning styles which predispose student choice for post secondary concentrations. This research examined the academic transcripts of 238 (94 ESL, 144 non-ESL) students, analyzed the responses of 145 (65 ESL, 80 non-ESL) student questionnaires, and considered interviews with 26 ESL students and 12 school staff (4 counselors, 8 teachers). The findings suggest that a significant difference exists in the academic courses in which ESL grade 12 students enroll compared to non-ESL students. Cultural and familial influences were found to affect both the types of senior courses ESL students chose and their aims about future educational and career aspirations. The findings suggest that secondary schools examine critically their policies regarding broadening the exposure of ESL students to more expressive courses in Arts to extend equality of opportunity in determining their career choice directions.

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