The role of Spanish in the ESL class among Puerto Rican college students

Laura Pando de Munoz, Fordham University

Abstract

This investigation is a descriptive case study of 21 Puerto Rican college students enrolled in three different groups (first, second, and third course) within the basic-level English as a second language (ESL) class at a private university. The main objectives were to present the subjects' perceptions of the English language and to describe the role that Spanish as a first language has in the process of learning English.^ Six different sources of information were utilized: the questionnaire, Role of Spanish Scale, an interview, a journal, a written report on strategies, a classroom reading activity, and field notes on observations of students working in the classroom.^ The following questions were addressed: How does a group of basic-level ESL students with different prior English experience, as defined in this study by the course number to which they belonged, perceive English with respect to the variable of liking? How do these students perceive English with respect to the variable of usefulness? What is the role of Spanish as the first language in the acquisition of English as demonstrated by the strategies used in learning English? How do these students perceive their English language in terms of liking as reflected by their scores on the Role of Spanish Scale? How do they perceive the English language as useful in their lives as reflected by their scores on the Role of Spanish Scale? How do they use the strategy of translation from and into Spanish as reflected by their scores on the Role of Spanish Scale?^ Results showed that subjects' perceptions of English were consistently positive. The 21 students stated that they liked English and they found it useful in their lives. Results also showed that Spanish was frequently utilized in the process of learning ESL by these 21 students. Spanish was the medium of communication among subjects and was utilized frequently between subjects and instructor. Translation was the learning strategy preferred by the subjects. All other learning strategies frequently used were related to Spanish, such as looking up words in the English-Spanish dictionary. Spanish was always the facilitator in the process of learning English by these subjects.^ Findings are consistent with the present view of some educators who contend that if the native language is to be used in the process of learning a second language, as investigations have shown, it should be done in a systematic way in order to maximize its possible benefits (Kharma & Hajjaj, 1989; Shand, 1990a, 1990b, in press; TESOL 89 Colloquium, 1989). ^

Subject Area

Education, Language and Literature|Language, Linguistics|Language, General

Recommended Citation

Laura Pando de Munoz, "The role of Spanish in the ESL class among Puerto Rican college students" (January 1, 1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9304524.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9304524

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