The Psychological Impact of English Language Immersion on Elementary Age English

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Offline Anta

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The Psychological Impact of English
Language Immersion on Elementary
Age English Language Learners


To date, most studies about English language learners (ELLs) in Structured English
Immersion (SEI) classrooms in the state of Arizona have focused on ELLs’ lack of
English acquisition in one year, a time frame expected by Arizona policymakers, as well
as their lagging academic progress. While these studies almost uniformly have surfaced
educational and policy concerns about the effectiveness of SEI, the debate about this
approach has been marked by a lack of attention to research addressing the nonacademic ramifications of enforcing this model on children who speak or understand little or no English. One relatively unexamined consequence of the SEI program is its
potentially detrimental emotional, psychosomatic, and mental effects on students forced
to receive instruction (and to be tested) exclusively in English, a language they are still
in the process of acquiring. The qualitative research study described in this article
addresses this issue by examining the participation of monolingual Spanish-speaking
children in SEI classes in one school district. Drawing from the research literature on
child maltreatment investigators sought to determine if SEI placement subjected
monolingual Spanish-speaking students to conditions of maltreatment. The researchers
acknowledge that the theoretical operationalization of child maltreatment remains a
challenge, in part because of an absence of consensus among social science researchers
about what precisely constitutes child maltreatment, and because social sensibilities
change over time. Nonetheless, results indicate that the English learners in this study
experienced clear psychological effects like anxiety and depression symptomatology,
anger, school phobia, and eating and sleeping difficulties. In-depth interviews with
students and parents indicated intense emotional distress from being subjected to
environmental conditions from which they could not escape. Their experiences,
analyzed within the broader socio-political context of contemporary Arizona, suggest
that for some children participation in SEI classrooms constitute a form of emotional
maltreatment.

Full article is attached.
Anta Afsana
Lecturer
Department of English
Daffodil International University
email id: anta.eng@diu.edu.bd
Contact number: 07134195331