Proyecto Tesis (Disertación)

LEARNING ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE IN PUERTO RICO:
THE EXPERIENCES OF A SMALL NUMBER OF COLLEGE LEVEL ADULTS

Program in Bilingual Education
Department of Teaching and Learning
 

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Education
New York University
1997
 

by
Milagros Caratini-Soto






Sponsoring Committee:

Professor Margot Ely, Chairperson
Professor John Mayher
Professor Harvey Nadler


ABSTRACT

Milagros Caratini-Soto, Doctor of Philosophy, 1997
Major: Teaching English as a Second Language
Title  of Dissertation: Learning English as a Second Language in Puerto Rico: The Experiences of a Small Number of College
                                Level Adults
Directed by: Professor Margot Ely

    This ethnographic interview study concerns itself with English as a second language learning experiences of a small number of college level adults. It describes the views of five returning college adult students from the central geographic area of Puerto Rico.

    The life experiences of these participants are presented in profiles in the first person. These data were recontextualized into a series of themes that emerged during the analytic process. The themes are presented under three categories. The first category discusses the political, social, and cultural issues related to the teaching and learning of English for these participants. A salient theme was: To us, learning English is a central political issue and we feel passionately about it.

    The second category is concerned with past approaches to the teaching of English. The themes in this category address particular aspects of the participants' teaching and learning experiences that, according to the participants, were inadequate. The final category presents English as a need for the future. It uncovers the instrumental orientation these participants have toward English for themselves as well as for their children. The use of English is widespread now and the participants believe it will be even more so in the future. A persistent theme was: For my children, I want all the opportunities I never had.

    In the discussion of findings, three overarching topics seem to have particular importance for the teaching of English in Puerto Rico. The most significant finding is in regard to English?language learning and cultural identity. The views of these participants regarding Spanish language maintenance and the shift toward English in Puerto Rico appear tied to their political affiliations. The second topic touches on the importance of affect in learning. Participants felt teachers influenced them greatly, either positively or negatively. The data document many instances of ridicule and mockery from peers in English classes. The final topic presents the impact of traditional, sometimes outdated, teaching methods and their effect on the participants' learning.

    This ethnographic interview study concerns itself with English as a second language learning experiences of a small number of college level adults. It describes the views of five returning college adult students from the central geographic area of Puerto Rico.

    The life experiences of these participants are presented in profiles in the first person. These data were recontextualized into a series of themes that emerged during the analytic process. The themes are presented under three categories. The first category discusses the political, social, and cultural issues related to the teaching and learning of English for these participants. A salient theme was: To us, learning English is a central political issue and we feel passionately about it.

    The second category is concerned with past approaches to the teaching of English. The themes in this category address particular aspects of the participants' teaching and learning experiences that, according to the participants, were inadequate. The final category presents English as a need for the future. It uncovers the instrumental orientation these participants have toward English for themselves as well as for their children. The use of English is widespread now and the participants believe it will be even more so in the future. A persistent theme was: For my children, I want all the opportunities I never had.

    In the discussion of findings, three overarching topics seem to have particular importance for the teaching of English in Puerto Rico. The most significant finding is in regard to English-language learning and cultural identity. The views of these participants regarding Spanish language maintenance and the shift toward English in Puerto Rico appear tied to their political affiliations. The second topic touches on the importance of affect in learning. Participants felt teachers influenced them greatly, either positively or negatively. The data document many instances of ridicule and mockery from peers in English classes. The final topic presents the impact of traditional, sometimes outdated, teaching methods and their effect on the participants' learning.
 



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