High school English learners and college-going : three stories of success



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Recent research suggests that the college-going trajectories of English language learners (ELLs) may be improved by focusing on their academic abilities rather than their English limitations; that ELLs are capable of high-track, college preparatory coursework. Most research draws on feedback or observations of current high school students. This qualitative study uses semi-structured interviews to elicit retrospective perspectives of three Latina college students placed in English as a second language (ESL) during high school. These three former ELLs were able to navigate from ESL courses to higher-track, advanced placement (AP) courses, which prepared them for college. Results suggest that relatively short times spent in ESL may positively influence ELLs’ access to college preparatory coursework and integration with native English speaking (NES) peers who possess college-going social capital. Results also suggest that ELLs’ perceptions of teachers’ high expectations and college-going assistance may provide important social capital facilitating ELLs’ access to higher-tracks and college.