Re-inventing a new wheel: An ethnographic study of a pilot K-8 summer English program

Brown, Devin G.   University of South Carolina ProQuest Dissertations Publishing,  1994. 9517255.

Abstract (summary)

This study uses ethnographic research methods to investigate a pilot K-8 summer English program which took place in July 1994 in Columbia, South Carolina. The research question was: What is the best way to take advantage of the unique factors in a summer setting to teach English as a second language (ESL) to young people? Forty-three international children, rising first through eighth graders, participated as students in the program. The staff was comprised of four teachers and the director. Twenty-six experienced English language educators from South Africa and Namibia took part as participant/observers through a program sponsored by the United States Information Agency and the University of South Carolina's English Programs for Internationals. Students were divided by grade level into four classes which met for three hours every weekday for four weeks. Whole group activities were an important part of each day, as were the hour-long staff meetings. Data were collected through field and retrospective notes, formal and informal interviews, tape recordings, surveys, and artifacts produced on the site. The Summer English Program (SEP) was ground-breaking in that it explored ESL program designs and teaching techniques which had not been tried previously or were not possible during the regular school year. The SEP staff members succeeded in providing an experience which would promote language acquisition, and four general themes emerged as partial answers to the question of how to make best use of the novel context. The first theme was a general suggestion for other professionals planning a summer English program: Make it different from the regular school year. The other three themes offered more specific answers on how to make the program different: Use a thematic approach, provide a context-rich learning environment, and be flexible. The results of this study support the theoretical position which holds that second language learning, particularly when attempted before the critical period, is fundamentally different from other types of learning, and thus necessitates a different learning environment, and challenge the tradition which has sought to place K-8 ESL instruction in schools into the same framework as other subject teaching.

Indexing (details)

0290: Linguistics
Identifier / keyword
Language, literature and linguistics; summer program
Re-inventing a new wheel: An ethnographic study of a pilot K-8 summer English program
Brown, Devin G.
Number of pages
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 56/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Pearson, Bruce L.; Henry, Alexander Rowe
University of South Carolina
University location
United States -- South Carolina
Source type
Dissertation or Thesis
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL