Limited English Proficiency (LEP)

The research examined thus far has explored the potential link between race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status, and academic performance in general. Importantly, this study seeks to focus on the potential link between these demographic factors and English language literacy and proficiency among students in Bexar County, Texas. In order to facilitate a thorough exploration of this subject area, it is important to examine the concept of limited English language literacy among American students through limited English proficiency. Fortunately, a great deal of literature has been devoted to this area as increased attention has been placed on the rising prevalence of English language learners within all areas of the United States. Available data indicates that the rising prevalence of English language learners is apparent within Bexar County, Texas as 19.1% of the population, which is equal to roughly 200,000 people, has been found to not speak English very well. These numbers emphasize the relevance of examining academic performance in English language literacy within Bexar County as this subject has been identified as a weak point within the population. Ultimately, it is necessary to determine what if any factors have led to disparities of English language literacy in Bexar County, or more specifically, seek to understand why limited English language literacy continues to be a prevalent problem. Although the answers to these questions will primarily come from the study conducted for this research project, which will be outlined in following chapters, gaining a deeper understanding of these concepts will facilitate the formation of these answers while providing valuable insights into the implications of limited English language literacy in 21st century America.

The number of English language learners in the United States remains extensive, which has required the education system to develop curricular frameworks to facilitate the ELL process among a diverse student population in the United States. For Bexar County, Texas, a majority of the English language learners are of Hispanic decent. As such, much of the curriculum that has been developed to facilitate and support ELLs in the county is geared toward Hispanic learners in particular. Importantly, prevailing research has identified several issues that are faced by English language learners in the United States based on the curriculum currently used by much of the educational infrastructure. Silva, Delleman & Phesia point out a number of these issues within their research. One of the most prominent of the issues identified by these researchers involves the fact that lengthy texts, which are often synonymous with language arts curriculum, can be particularly intimidating for ELL’s. As such, these lengthy texts can work to undermine the learning process as English language learners struggle to gain mastery and proficiency of English as a first or second language.