Language Attitudes and Language Use of Californian ESL Students

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As the number of second language (L2) learners in Southern Californian schools has increased rapidly in recent years and as the drop-out rates of these students, particularly of those from Chicano and Latina backgrounds, are alarmingly high, it is critical for researchers and educators to understand what is happening with these students' learning at school.

This paper reports on a research project which aims at exploring how L2 students, in particular, Spanish-speaking students, use both of their first language (L1) and L2 in the classroom. Specifically, it investigates how high-school Spanish-speaking students perceive their use of L1 and L2 in dealing with content and culture learning as well as social interactions in English-as-a-second-language (ESL) classes. Preliminary survey responses on questions about language attitudes and language use with 40 Hispanic students of two ESL classes in a high school in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the United States will be reported.

Insights into what L2 students think about their L1 and L2 and what they report on doing with these languages in class are important to research knowledge because they will open up new avenues for exploration and contribute to a better understanding of language, identity, and educational development of L2 learners in Southern California schools, and of some reasons for the high drop-out rates of students from Chicano and Latino backgrounds. Answers to the above questions are also of vital importance to educational practice because what languages students use in class and how students perceive their use of these different languages directly influence how they learn an L2. A detailed look into students' opinions about why they switch between Spanish and English may directly contribute to instructional effectiveness.


Keywords: English as a Second Language, Language Attitudes, Language Use
Stream: Literacy, Language, Multiliteracies; Languages Education and Second Language Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Xiaoping Liang

Associate Professor, Linguistics, California State University
Long Beach, California, USA


Ref: L09P0275