CELEBRATE! profile: Lindsay Mann '11
With their growing number of students who speak little or no English, American school systems have turned largely to one of two approaches for teaching such children. Elon University senior Lindsay Mann compared the models – “English as a Second Language” and “Spanish Dual Language” – and her work is the first to be featured in a series of E-net profiles on undergraduate research to be presented during CELEBRATE! 2011.
Working under the guidance of associate professor Carolyn Stuart in the School of Education, Mann analyzed traditional ESL programs, which remove students from the classroom for specialized English instruction, and dual language programs where students are taught in both languages in the same classroom.
Her mother teaches elementary school at a school with a large number of English Language Learners, which first sparked Mann’s interest in the subject. After visiting her mother’s school during high school, she knew immediately she wanted to learn the teaching techniques used with the students.
Mann’s observations and research leave no gray area when it comes to which program she believes works better.
“Students don’t learn to appreciate other cultures in the English as a Second Language model,” Mann said. “The goal of the program is to solely teach them English quickly and get them back in the classroom to learn other subjects.”
Students in Spanish dual language programs spend half the day learning in Spanish and half the day learning in English. “The dual language model uses the cultural differences of both English speaking students and English language learners to better teach all students about language and language differences,” she said.
Studies show students in dual language programs learn to accept differences among people at a very early age, Mann said, and they score higher on standardized tests than students in ESL programs. Part of that may come from the ways teachers use a higher number of visual and audible techniques for conveying information.
The elementary education major and Spanish minor from Atlanta, Ga., found she could relate to her research because of study abroad experiences in Honduras and Spain that required her to learn a second language.
Outside of her work, Mann is a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, Omicron Delta Kappa, and she worked as a trip coordinator for the Elon Volunteers! alternative break trip to New Orleans in January.
Mann said she hopes to begin teaching elementary school this coming fall, preferably at a school that uses the dual language model. She said her dream is to one day develop her own dual language school.
“I think that as an educator, I have an ethical responsibility to educate children in the best way possible,” Mann said. “Through my research, I have found that my passion is in learning how to best educate English language learners.”
- Written by Becca Tynes ‘13