ERIC Number: ED454706
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2001-Apr
Adult ESL Students in the Contact Zone: Exploring the Effects of Multiple Educational Attainment Levels on the Community College Writing Classroom.
Curry, Mary Jane
This paper examines the effects of adult students with multiple educational attainment levels on classroom practice and student persistence in an English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) basic writing course at a U.S. community college. The part-time status of the instructor exacerbated the challenges of teaching students whose educational attainment ranged form less than high school to MD and Ph.D degrees. Drawing on Bourdieu's theory of forms of capital and Pratt's notion of the classroom as a "contact zone," the paper analyzes the different forms of capital that students had at their disposal. The less educated immigrant and refugee students were the first to leave the course, which ended with a 75% attrition rate. The better-educated students drew on economic and social capital to take advantage of the free programs offered by the community college. Of those who left the course, the less educated students struggled to persist in higher education, while those with more cultural capital managed to hang on and obtain more schooling. This study illustrates the pedagogic challenges of the contemporary ESL basic writing classroom, a contact zone comprised not only of diverse students but also of marginalized adjunct faculty. Larger economic forces are drawing more limited English speakers to the United States, creating demand for ESL instructors which due to supply and cost issues must increasingly be part-time. It is argued that this entire issue should be examined at a higher level. (Contains 30 references.) (KFT)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Seattle, WA, April 10-14, 2001).