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Interacting with the chameleons: Limited English proficient students

1 June 1997


The number of Limited English Proficient (LEP) students entering the mainstream classrooms is increasing, while the debate over how to or whether to educate these students continues. For most LEP students, entering the American classroom poses new and difficult challenges to overcome, one of these challenges is a highly interactive classroom. Do these interactions impact LEP students in a positive or negative way? The purpose of this qualitative study was to answer the research question: What are the affects of peer interactions on LEP students in a mainstream classroom? The study took place in a suburban 6th grade, middle school, mainstream classroom located in the Pacific Northwest. The classroom population was comprised of low to high socio-economic status students. The four students who were studied spoke Spanish as their first language and had varying levels of English speaking abilities. The privacy of these students was protected by using pseudonyms throughout the research paper. Information about the students was gathered through observations, interviews, and surveys. This study showed how four LEP students adjusted to an English speaking environment and some affects interactions had on their adjustment to one American classroom. The majority of the interactions described in this study were part of cooperative learning activities, others were part of partner or two way dialogue exchanges. The study revealed cooperative learning had a positive impact on the LEP student's abilities to adapt to a mainstream classroom.


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