Publication Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

First Advisor

Beverly Burkett


This paper describes the academic challenges that many English Second Language (ESL) students must deal with from the moment they start attending a bilingual program at elementary school until they finish the last step of their academic experience. These students continually struggle to keep up with their peers, often fail the state mandated tests, and eventually, drop out before receiving their high school diploma. For the past three years, both as a self-contained ESL teacher and an ESL certified co-teacher in the mainstream classroom, I taught ESL Language Arts to Spanish- speaking students at a public junior high school in *Harris County Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) located in Raytown, Texas. After witnessing firsthand the failing grades and the low test scores received by my ESL students every year, I have pondered the factors that both promote and impede their academic success in the public school system. In this professional paper, I will first outline specifically what challenges such students face; finally I will elaborate on what effective strategies and practices may be implemented to meet such challenges in the public school context. It is my hope that such a response could help to close the learning gap and provide ESL students a more equitable education that would develop their full intellectual potential.

* Except for the state, the names for the city, district and school that appear throughout the thesis are pseudonyms.


Applied Linguistics | Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | First and Second Language Acquisition