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The social practice (activity) of the integration of K-12 English as a second language (ESL) students in a diverse urban school district in Canada McRae-McCarthy, Victoria Lillian A.

Abstract

Using mixed methods this exploratory research examined the social practice (activity) of integration for English as a second language (ESL) students in a large multicultural, multilingual urban school district from the point of view (survey, n=253/interview, n=64) of respondents (teachers, parents, students, administrators) from the school community. The study also examined documents (n=242) at a micro/macro level over rime (ten years). It explicitly raised the question: How was the integration of ESL learners practiced by various participants in an organization, both actively and in writing (text)? - to explore and illuminate issues surrounding the widespread disagreement amongst stakeholders previously documented in both internal/external school district reviews and other documents. TESOL Standards K-12 (2000) recommends against a 'traditional' model of integration and for a 'new' model, endorsed by contemporary research, and ultimately implying a language socialization perspective. Each of these models was considered in this research. Findings indicated that the majority of respondents and documents focussed on a traditional ESL service delivery model for integration centred on English testing of K-12 ESL students, but a substantial minority of respondents and documents gave other views of integration and/or views critical of the traditional model. School organizations did not adequately address issues required by TESOL Standards K-12 (2000): language as a medium of learning in relation to content knowledge, culture and student diversity. A greater focus on language socialization by schools could offer a richer and more current model for integration that would advance policies and practices for multicultural, multilingual ESL students in large urban centres and offer a more holistic approach to research amongst those in ESL, multicultural, and special education, as well as education generally around issues of ESL integration in urban school districts.

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