The Effects of Bilingual Education on Language, Achievement, and Self-Efficacy of Hispanic Students
Hewitt, Lisa A.
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Much controversy exists surrounding the education of Hispanic English Language Learners (ELLs). This large and growing group presents significant challenges to educators. Foremost among these challenges is the question of whether bilingual or English-only education is most appropriate for enhancing ELLs? language proficiency and achievement. Despite decades of controversy and research in the field of bilingual education, the debate is ongoing. Additionally, Hispanic ELLs are profoundly affected by other cultural and educational factors. One potentially important factor with limited research involves the academic self-efficacy of ELLs. This study examined the relationship of bilingual and English-only education to Hispanic ELLs? language proficiency, academic achievement, and academic self-efficacy. Participants were eighth-grade Hispanic students from a large southwestern school district. Data were collected from school district records, and a self-efficacy questionnaire was administered to a subsample of students. Analyses included t-tests, ANOVA, ANCOVA, and regression procedures to measure relationships between ELL students who received bilingual education (the Bilingual group) or English-only education (the Mainstream ELL group), as well as a Comparison group of non-ELL Hispanic students. It was hypothesized that the Bilingual group would demonstrate advantages over the other two groups in English proficiency, academic achievement, and academic self-efficacy. Analyses revealed few significant group differences. The Bilingual group did not attain significantly higher English proficiency than the Mainstream ELL group by third grade. The Bilingual group did not demonstrate significantly higher achievement scores than the Mainstream ELL group, but their scores were significantly higher than the Comparison group. There were no significant differences between groups on academic self-efficacy. Regression analyses indicated that the length of time spent in bilingual education did not predict students? language proficiency, achievement, or academic self-efficacy. A final analysis indicated that academic self-efficacy and third grade English proficiency scores were significant predictors of eighth-grade achievement. Conclusions indicate modest benefits for ELL students attending bilingual education, but more advantages may have been evident had more years of bilingual education been provided to students. Clearly, increased attention to academic self-efficacy and English proficiency may be appropriate regardless of the type of educational placement. Further studies should examine other factors affecting the quality of education provided to ELL students.