The Complexity of MultilingualStudent Placement Preferences           Todd Ruecker   University of Texas at El Paso
The Context•  Situated on the U.S.-Mexico border•  About 80% Latino•  Majority of students multilingual, first   generatio...
The Study•  Inspired by Costino & Hyon’s 2007 JSLW article•  Mixed methods study•  Surveyed 10 ESOL and 10 ENG FYC classes...
Research questions1.  What are multilingual students’ attitudes towards various    labels commonly used to describe studen...
Theoretical framework    Identity as “multiple, a site of struggle,            and changing over time”            (Norton ...
ESOL or English? If given the freedom to choose, would you rather be inyour current writing course, ENG/ESOL 1311, or a 13...
ESOL or English? If given the freedom to choose, would you rather be inyour current writing course, ENG/ESOL 1311, or a 13...
ESOL or English? If given the freedom to choose, would you rather be inyour current writing course, ENG/ESOL 1311, or a 13...
NES/NNES preferences    Would you prefer to be in a 1311 class with all  nonnative speakers of English or with a mixture o...
ESOL qualitative responses32 responses preferring                     114 responsesENG                                    ...
ESOL qualitative responses87 responses preferring                     19 responses preferringESOL                         ...
Pamela•  Completed high school in Mexico•  Placed in ESOL•  Initially wanted to be in English, later satisfied   with ESOL...
Pamela (cont.)Beginning of semester: “Because thestudent who are in the 1311 course in theEnglish department are native En...
Amanda•  Came to UTEP from Mexico on athletic   scholarship, been learning English 3 years•  Placed in ENG 1311•  Initiall...
Amanda (cont.)Beginning of semester: “Because I might be a littlebehind in the learning comparing to the rest of myclass…”...
Joanne•  Moved to U.S. to study at UTEP, been learning   English since elementary school.•  Placed in ESOL•  Dissatisfied ...
Joanne (cont.)   Beginning of semester   preference for ENG:    “Because the teachers do not   identify you as a student w...
Joanne (cont.)J: No, I don’t think they placed me accurately. That’s why I’m saying that     uh, this student opinion, or,...
Implications•  Identities are shifting and dynamic, not static, and   thus so are preferences•  Problem when fluid prefere...
Recommendations  1.  Consider student opinion      •  Student abilities and motivations are diverse      •  DSP introduced...
Recommendations  2.  Increase flexibility      •  Joanne revealed limits of a system that treats         a complex, dynami...
Recommendations  3. Ensure credit for ESL courses     •  Insult to injury if not receiving credit for ESL        class    ...
Recommendations  4. Rethink course design     •  Cross-cultural composition as alternative to        mainstream/ESL dichot...
ReferencesCostino, K. & Hyon, S. (2007). “A class for students like me”: Reconsidering    relationships among identity lab...
Thank you!If you would like a copy of this presentation or          talk more about this study,               please email...
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The Complexity of Multilingual Students' Placement Preferences

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The Complexity of Multilingual Students' Placement Preferences

  1. 1. The Complexity of MultilingualStudent Placement Preferences Todd Ruecker University of Texas at El Paso
  2. 2. The Context•  Situated on the U.S.-Mexico border•  About 80% Latino•  Majority of students multilingual, first generation © The University of Texas at El Paso
  3. 3. The Study•  Inspired by Costino & Hyon’s 2007 JSLW article•  Mixed methods study•  Surveyed 10 ESOL and 10 ENG FYC classes two times, and conducted follow up interviews with 9 students.•  Quantitative analysis using Survey monkey filtering & SPSS. Qualitative analysis by inductive coding of responses and transcripts. © The University of Texas at El Paso
  4. 4. Research questions1.  What are multilingual students’ attitudes towards various labels commonly used to describe students like them? Are these attitudes affected by students’ self-identification with the labels or self-reported usage of English?2.  How do students view mainstream and L2 writing courses differently and how do course titles affect student perception of the courses?3.  If given the choice, would multilingual students placed into ESL and mainstream classrooms choose the same placements that the institution assigned them? Does their placement satisfaction change between the beginning and end of a semester? © The University of Texas at El Paso
  5. 5. Theoretical framework Identity as “multiple, a site of struggle, and changing over time” (Norton Peirce, 1995, p. 14). © The University of Texas at El Paso
  6. 6. ESOL or English? If given the freedom to choose, would you rather be inyour current writing course, ENG/ESOL 1311, or a 1311 course in the ESOL/ENG department? © The University of Texas at El Paso
  7. 7. ESOL or English? If given the freedom to choose, would you rather be inyour current writing course, ENG/ESOL 1311, or a 1311 course in the ESOL/ENG department? Part life (101) 32 Mex./Intl (81) Whole life (9) ESOL ENG 68 19.8 22.2 ESOL ESOL ENG ENG 80.2 77.8 © The University of Texas at El Paso
  8. 8. ESOL or English? If given the freedom to choose, would you rather be inyour current writing course, ENG/ESOL 1311, or a 1311 course in the ESOL/ENG department? Of 53 ESOL students I was able to track, 7 switched to an ESOL preference while 3 switched to an ENG preference by the end of the semester. © The University of Texas at El Paso
  9. 9. NES/NNES preferences Would you prefer to be in a 1311 class with all nonnative speakers of English or with a mixture of native and nonnative speakers? NNES/Mixed Preferences ESOL/ENG Preferences 20.8 27.1 All NNES ESOL NES & ENG NNES 72.9 79.2 © The University of Texas at El Paso
  10. 10. ESOL qualitative responses32 responses preferring 114 responsesENG preferring mixed•  a desire to learn and •  the chance to practice speak more English (9) more English (32)•  expectations of the •  they would learn faster course being more (19) challenging or faster (8) •  possibilities for cultural•  desire to be with NESs exchange (17) (4) •  belief that their English•  belief that they knew and Spanish were good enough English (4) enough for a mixed course (11) © The University of Texas at El Paso
  11. 11. ESOL qualitative responses87 responses preferring 19 responses preferringESOL NNES only•  the course is better for •  being on the same level their needs and can help with the other students (8) them better (21) •  feeling more comfortable•  they have more to learn (5) and are not ready (16) •  having similar needs (2)•  it is easier because others •  have more confidence (1) speak their language (14)•  it is more comfortable (11)•  the teacher or teaching style is better adapted to learning needs (10) © The University of Texas at El Paso
  12. 12. Pamela•  Completed high school in Mexico•  Placed in ESOL•  Initially wanted to be in English, later satisfied with ESOL © The University of Texas at El Paso
  13. 13. Pamela (cont.)Beginning of semester: “Because thestudent who are in the 1311 course in theEnglish department are native Englishspeaker, so if I want to talk with some ofthem, I have to speak in English too.Instead in the ESOL classes where almosteveryone speak Spanish, so I do not havethe necessity to use my English.” End of semester: “That’s a really good question because I think that in English, maybe I will be with people that speak in English, so it will be better to me because I will be forced, because for example, in the ESL classes, my classmates speak Spanish, so, we speak Spanish…[but] I don’t know…I like the ESOL classes and I think that there are more, like, um, como dedidcadas.” © The University of Texas at El Paso
  14. 14. Amanda•  Came to UTEP from Mexico on athletic scholarship, been learning English 3 years•  Placed in ENG 1311•  Initially wanted to be in ESOL, later satisfied with ENG © The University of Texas at El Paso
  15. 15. Amanda (cont.)Beginning of semester: “Because I might be a littlebehind in the learning comparing to the rest of myclass…” Chose comp for ESL and for L2 writers“because in those the teachers may take more intoconsideration that they need to explain to you morein detail some stuff. Because probably some of thethings we’re doing right now other people did it inhigh school. But since I started in Mexico, I didn’t.So maybe they could pay more attention to us.” End of semester: “Cause I didn’t think I could do it. I thought it was too difficult and but now I think if the rest of my classes are going to be in English, I should start now with that, practicing English…I know it’s weird how I contradict myself from the beginning to here but thought this course I’ve learned that what, I just told you, that it’s better if I practice it and maybe I wasn’t really sure about myself, but now I am and I’ve learned a lot and that’s good.” University of Texas at El Paso © The
  16. 16. Joanne•  Moved to U.S. to study at UTEP, been learning English since elementary school.•  Placed in ESOL•  Dissatisfied with ESOL placement from the beginning, approached ESOL director. © The University of Texas at El Paso
  17. 17. Joanne (cont.) Beginning of semester preference for ENG: “Because the teachers do not identify you as a student with deficiencies of language and on regular English classes you get the chance to know more of English language and the culture.” © The University of Texas at El Paso
  18. 18. Joanne (cont.)J: No, I don’t think they placed me accurately. That’s why I’m saying that uh, this student opinion, or, at least an interview with the student, to get to know them that, they got a lot of troubles but they can fix them, cause, I got placed in 1309 and I found I used that one, but they’re also required to take 1406, which is grammar, and I didn’t learn anything in that class, that’s why I’m like…I: It’s too easy…J: And it’s useless, and it’s just a waste of time.I: did you take 1310?J: No, I haven’t taken it yet.I: And do you have to?J: Yeah, unfortunately. I don’t wanna take it, because I know it’s a reading class, and I took history, I also took philosophy, I took sociology, so I’m like those are really hard classes for reading, so why should I go to ESOL, youThe University of Texas at El Paso © know?
  19. 19. Implications•  Identities are shifting and dynamic, not static, and thus so are preferences•  Problem when fluid preferences clash with rigid placement systems•  Tests are insufficient to be the only consideration in placing students•  Inadequacy of simple mainstream/ESL dichotomy © The University of Texas at El Paso
  20. 20. Recommendations 1.  Consider student opinion •  Student abilities and motivations are diverse •  DSP introduced by Royer and Gilles (1998), recommended in CCCCs statement on L2 writers •  Potential of online surveys (Crusan, 2006) •  Necessary to inform students about options © The University of Texas at El Paso
  21. 21. Recommendations 2.  Increase flexibility •  Joanne revealed limits of a system that treats a complex, dynamic identity as static. •  Student preferences/knowledge change © The University of Texas at El Paso
  22. 22. Recommendations 3. Ensure credit for ESL courses •  Insult to injury if not receiving credit for ESL class •  Students can spend 2 years without credit •  Adding to linguistic repertoire should be considered college-level work © The University of Texas at El Paso
  23. 23. Recommendations 4. Rethink course design •  Cross-cultural composition as alternative to mainstream/ESL dichotomy (Silva, 1994; Matsuda & Silva, 1999) •  Requires a teacher who is knowledgeable in working with L1 and L2 writers and a balanced mix of L1 & L2 English writers •  Alternative in linking courses: similar assignments, having students from different classes work together on assignments, meet for peer review © The University of Texas at El Paso
  24. 24. ReferencesCostino, K. & Hyon, S. (2007). “A class for students like me”: Reconsidering relationships among identity labels, residency status, and students’ preferences for mainstream or multilingual composition. Journal of Second Language Writing, 16(2), 63-81.Crusan, D. (2006). The politics of implementing online directed self-placement for second-language writers. In P.K. Matsuda, C. Ortmeier-Hooper, & X. You (Eds.) The politics of second language writing: In search of the promised land (pp. 205-21). West Lafayette, IN: Parlor.Matsuda, P.K. & Silva, T. (1999). Cross-cultural composition: Mediated integration of U.S. and international students. Composition Studies, 27(1), 15-30.Norton Peirce, B. (1995). Social identity, investment, and language learning. TESOL Quarterly, 29(1), 9-31.Royer, D. J., & Gilles, R. (1998). Directed self-placement: An attitude of orientation. College Composition and Communication, 50(1), 54-70.Silva, T. (1994). An examination of writing program administrators’ options for the placement of ESL students in first year writing classes. WPA: Writing Program Administration, 18(1-2), 37-43.University of Texas at El Paso © The
  25. 25. Thank you!If you would like a copy of this presentation or talk more about this study, please email me at tcruecker@miners.utep.eduIf you would like to learn more about my work, please visit my website at toddruecker.com © The University of Texas at El Paso

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