School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Gail Collins


English Language Learners (ELLs), English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Immigrant, Language Acquisition, Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP)




The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the lived experiences of secondary content teachers who instruct English Language Learner (ELL) students. ELLs are the fastest growing population of students in the United States. As this group continues to grow, so do the challenges of providing equitable education. Although most schools have adopted one or more models of instruction for ELLs, there is no universal model. High stakes testing and improved college readiness curriculum are designed to provide higher expectations for student achievement. However, ELL students continue to fall behind their native English-speaking peers in math and reading. Secondary content teachers should be knowledgeable of the unique needs of ELLs and feel supported when teaching these students. Understanding the lived experiences and perceptions of teachers who instruct ELL students at the secondary content level can lead to a positive and successful learning environment for the students and the teachers. Participants included 12 secondary content teachers from three high schools in a southern state. I utilized one-on-one interviews, focus group interviews, and participant journaling from all participants to gather data about what the participants experienced and how they experienced it. The theories guiding this study were Krashen’s 1982 theory of second language acquisition and Cummins’ 1980 theory of language development as both have been instrumental in developing models of instruction and strategies to instruct ELL students and continue to play an integral role in today’s instructional methods.

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