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Mainstreaming minorities: Do teacher's expectations and behaviors have an effect on limited-English proficient (LEP) students' self-esteem and academic performance?

13 December 1993


This project examines the effects of teachers' expectations and behaviors on limited-English proficient (LEP) students' self-esteem and academic performance in the mainstream classroom. Based on and interviews observations made over a four-week period at a rural elementary school in the Northwest, the study finds that whole language instruction and positive teacher attitudes combine to emotionally and educationally benefit the LEP student.

Due to factors such as high -immigration rates and low educational resources, an increasing number of regular classroom teachers are faced with the challenge of educating students of diverse linguistic and educational backgrounds.

Unfortunately, some teachers experience difficulties in establishing rapport with limited-English proficient (LEP) students, which can result in the teacher not involving the students as class members and failing to demonstrate empathy and sensitivity toward their needs. As a result, these LEP students become at risk of academic failure with internalized beliefs that they cannot succeed; lack of self-esteem leads to withdrawal from social activities with fellow students, trapping the student in a circle of self-fulfilling prophecy of constant failure.

Fortunately there are other educators who recognize this problem and are becoming more aware of the limitations of their own education and their necessity for new methodologies and/or strategies to address students' needs. This study concludes that the method of whole language instruction and a supportive teacher attitude create an encouraging learning environment for LEP students that can positively affect their self-esteem and motivate them toward academic success.


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