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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Toward an understanding of academically successful English as a second language students Gentry, Lorna Edith


Twenty-five ESL students who were identified by teachers as "academically successful", i.e. with at least a C average in their regular courses, were interviewed, using an open ended conversational approach. Informants shared their own perspectives on their ESL and regular classroom experiences, their perceptions about themselves as students and their strategies for success. They compared experiences in Canada and their native countries, and talked about their home background. They were encouraged to identify both strengths and problems in their education experiences, and to suggest changes in the schools to help themselves as well as less successful students. Data concluded that informants showed additive bilingualism, many use L1 to learn their academic work, and overwhelmingly they support ESL classes which they credit with fulfilling both academic and affective needs. Academic work in the home country transfers to subjects such as Math, but they express frustration with written assignments and essay questions in subjects with heavy language requirements. In general there is little involvement with native-speaking peers. Informants were found to be highly disciplined, with high future aspirations.

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