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Languages Across Borders: Building Cross-Linguistic and Cross-Cultural Networks in High School

Languages Across Borders: Building Positive Cross-Linguistic and Cross-Cultural Networks in High School

Adolescent immigrant students classified as English language learners (ELLs) typically have many of risk factors associated with high drop-out rates (Rumberger, 2007). In schools, ELLs are often isolated from native English speakers through tracking and other means, but supportive peer interactions between ELLs and native English speakers can encourage positive youth development.

• Supportive school-based relationships are correlated with improved academic engagement and achievement for adolescent ELLs, which can help to combat this populations’ high dropout rate. In this way, supportive relationships are a means of avoiding risk for this population.

• These supportive relationships can benefit native English speakers, providing opportunities to develop cross-cultural connections and, in the case of the dual-language curriculum used in this project, second language proficiency as well. Mechanisms for dual language and positive youth development include: a dual language curriculum, collaborative tasks, cross-language interaction, and positive school-based peer relationships. (Supportive peer relationships are both an outcome of the previous three mechanisms and a mechanism for reducing academic risk for ELLs.)

The Language Across Borders (LAB) pilot project aims to improve linguistic/academic and psychosocial outcomes for both ELLs and native English-speaking students. Specifically, it aims to increase ELLs' social connections with peers and school while also increasing opportunities for ELLs and native English-speaking students to develop second language proficiency and positive youth development outcomes through strong school-based relationships.

This project focuses on both supportive relationships and risk avoidance priorities. Supportive school-based relationships are correlated with improved academic engagement and achievement for adolescent ELLs, which can help to combat this populations’ high dropout rate. In this way, supportive relationships are a means of avoiding risk for this population. These supportive relationships can benefit native English speakers, providing opportunities to develop cross-cultural connections and, in the case of the dual-language curriculum used in this project, second language proficiency as well.

Principle Investigator: Amanda K. Kibler - Assistant Professor, Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education, Curry School of Education

Read the YN Blog entry on the talk, "Improving Outcomes for English Language Learners."

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