English language learners with learning disabilities interacting in a science class within an inclusion setting

Date of Completion

January 2002


Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Education, Elementary|Education, Sciences




In today's schools there are by far more students identified with learning disabilities (LD) than with any other disability. The U.S. Department of Education in the year 1997–98 reported that there are 38.13% students with LD in our nations' schools (Smith, Polloway, Patton, & Dowdy, 2001; U.S. Department of Education, 1999). Of those, 1,198,200 are considered ELLs with LD (Baca & Cervantes. 1998). These figures which represent an increase evidence the need to provide these students with educational experiences geared to address both their academic and language needs (Ortiz, 1997; Ortiz, & Garcia, 1995). English language learners with LD must be provided with experiences in the least restrictive environment (LRE) and must be able to share the same kind of social and academic experiences as those students from the general population (Etscheidt & Bartlett, 1999; Lloyd, Kameenui, & Chard, 1997) ^ The purpose of this research was to conduct a detailed qualitative study on classroom interactions to enhance the understanding of the science curriculum in order to foster the understanding of content and facilitate the acquisition of English as a second language (Cummins, 2000; Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2000). This study was grounded on the theories of socioconstructivism, second language acquisition, comprehensible input, and classroom interactions. ^ The participants of the study were fourth and fifth grade ELLS with LD in a science elementary school bilingual inclusive setting. Data was collected through observations, semi-structured interviews (students and teacher), video and audio taping, field notes, document analysis, and the Classroom Observation Schedule (COS). The transcriptions of the video and audio tapes were coded to highlight emergent patterns on the type of interactions and language used by the participants. ^ The findings of the study intend to provide information for teachers of ELLs with LD about the implications of using classroom interactions point to: students more actively engaged, an increase in the acquisition of L2, development of science content vocabulary, and a willingness of students to take risks. ^