Factors contributing to English language acquisition among Hispanic adults in basic education programs
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Although studies pertinent to adult Hispanics with limited literacy in their native language are few, research by Cummins, and others, suggests that among children acquiring a second language the level of development in L1 (native language) affects the acquisition of L2 (second language). Research demonstrating the effect of selected variables, including native language literacy on second language acquisition among Hispanic adults in basic education programs, however, does not appear to be available in the literature. Moreover, there are no studies that address the forms and uses of literacy in L1 and L2 among this population.;The original sample population in this study consisted of 127 Hispanic adults enrolled in English as a second language classes in an adult basic education program in New York City. Spanish and English instruments were used to measure language proficiency over a period of three months. Questionnaires, structured interviews, and participant observer techniques were used to gather descriptive data on the subjects. The study sought to investigate the relation of native language literacy, years of schooling in the native country, years of residence in the United States and gender to second language acquisition, as measured by English oral and reading tests. A correlation matrix and stepwise multiple regression were used to analyze the quantitative data. It was expected that the selected variables would contribute significantly to second language acquisition.;The results of the correlational study appear to support Cummins' linguistic interdependence hypothesis and suggests that the level of development in L1 affects acquisition of English as a second language. In the multiple regression analysis literacy in the native language contributed significantly to second language acquisition when the results of oral English performance were not included in the equation. Performance on pre-tests of oral language proficiency emerged as the best predictor of English language acquisition as measured by English cloze and post-tests of English oral language proficiency.;The observations and structured interviews generated qualitative data reflecting a prevalence of contextualized uses of literacy and low levels of schooling among the sample population. The use of participant observer techniques emerged as a viable research tool with adults in this study. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.).
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