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Age and Rate of Acquisition of Second Language for Academic Purposes Author(s): Virginia P. Collier Reviewed work(s): Source: TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 4 (Dec., 1987), pp. 617-641 Published by: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL) Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3586986 . Accessed: 13/09/2012 19:49
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TESOL QUARTERLY, 21, No.4, December Vol. 1987

Age and Rate ofAcquisitionof SecondLanguagefor AcademicPurposes
VIRGINIAP. COLLIER Mason University George

in The studyreported thisarticleanalyzedthe length time of limited requiredfor1,548advantaged English proficient (LEP) in students becomeproficient English academicpurposes to for in in while instructionEnglish allsubject areas.Variables receiving includedwere age on arrival, level upon Englishproficiency in basic literacy mathskills thenative and arrival, language upon in and numberof years of schooling English.Second arrival, achievement were measured by language and content-area students' on in Associates tests performance theScienceResearch and social studies. mathematics, science, reading, languagearts, The results indicatedthatLEP students who enteredthe ESL at werethefastest 2-5 achievers, program ages8-11 requiring years to reachthe50thpercentile national on in norms all thesubject areas tested. LEP students who entered program ages 5-7 the at were 1-3yearsbehindtheperformance of their LEP peers level who entered program ages 8-11, the at whenbothgroups the had same length residence. of Arrivals ages 12-15experienced at the and to as greatest difficulty were projected require muchas 6-8 norms academicachievement in when yearsto reachgrade-level schooledall in thesecondlanguage.Whereas some groups may reach proficiency some subjectsin as littleas 2 years,it is in thatat least4-8 yearsmaybe required all ages of for projected LEP students reach nationalgrade-level to normsof native speakers in all subject areas of language and academic as on tests. achievement, measured standardized Acquiringa second language is never easy. Some people would like to think it is fairlysimple for young children,but second language acquisition (SLA) researchershave documented a very complex process that occurs over a long period of time (McLaughlin, 1984). Firstlanguage acquisitionbegins at birthand
617

of at continues continuing acquisition new through leastage 12,with our of and throughout adultlives vocabulary subtleties thelanguage & 1979). (de Villiers de Villiers, Second languageis acquiredto varying degreesof proficiency in dependingon the context whichthe acquirerneeds to use it. of acquirea secondlanguagein Immigrants schoolage who must in need to develop fullproficiency all of the context schooling and semanticsof language domains (includingthe structures inflectional vocabulary, syntax, morphology, phonology, phonetics, and and discourse, pragmatics, paralinguistics) all languageskills and knowledge writing, metalinguistic reading, speaking, (listening, areas (languagearts, of the language) foruse in all the content science,and socialstudies). mathematics, Languageused in school and is sometimes uniqueto thatcontext, it becomes increasingly one move from gradeto thenext. as abstract students Languageis the focus of everycontent-area task,with all meaningand all oral and written of demonstration knowledgeexpressed through of forms language. Cummins(1979,1980,1981a,1981b) proposedone of the first betweentwo basic modelsforSLA thatdistinguished theoretical of In of languageproficiency. earlyformulations his theory, types skills communicative Cumminslabeled thesebasic interpersonal academiclanguage and cognitive (CALP). The proficiency (BICS) has use ofthese (see by acronyms beenquestioned someresearchers Cummins& Swain, 1983; Edelskyet al., 1983; Rivera,1984) as that of the leadingto misinterpretation complexconcepts possibly and have become symbolic but theterms represent, theyactually formanypeople in ourfieldas a way of distinguishing meaningful between face-to-faceconversationalproficiency(BICS) and context-reduced, cognitivelydemandingaspects of language (CALP). proficiency can face-to-face In context-embedded, communication, meaning witha wide rangeof paralinguistic and be negotiated is enhanced on oral cues.Context-reduced and written and situational language, cues to meaning. on the otherhand, relies primarily linguistic Cummins(1981b) elaborateshis conceptionof these termsby creating four quadrants which best illustratethe range of are The in possibilities theBICS and CALP distinction. quadrants to fromcontext-embedded continuum divided by a horizontal fromcognitively and context-reduced by a verticalcontinuum to demanding. undemanding cognitively for required schooltaskscan incorporate Languageproficiency in but in thewholerangeofskills all four quadrants, itis especially and school that students need to develop context-reduced
618 TESOL QUARTERLY

demanding aspects of languagein orderto function cognitively in In refinement the of successfully theclassroom. his continuing CALP as aspects Cummins BICS/CALP distinction, (1984)defines involve at levelsof of languagethat cognitive processes thehigher of Bloom's taxonomy educationalobjectivesfor the cognitive domain: analysis, synthesis,and evaluation (see Bloom & Krathwohl, 1977). of rateof attainment CALP in the secondlanguage, Analyzing it takesstudents 2 Cummins (1981a) foundthatwhereas generally BICS in the L2, youngchildren withlittleor no yearsto master 5-7 in formalschooling theirL1 requireapproximately yearsto on in reachthelevelofnative speakers CALP intheL2,as measured standardized tests. Cummins (1981b) emphasizes that older in first second and common children's proficiency their underlying withtheprocessof SLA. Thus,forolderstudents, languageassists to and concepts acquiredin theL1 transfer manyacademicskills rate thanfor the L2, and the processof SLA occursat a faster children. younger of Summaries theliterature age and rateof attainment the of on & L2 (Krashen, 1979;Krashen, Scarcella, Long, Long,& Scarcella, and that acquiremany 1982)confirm olderchildren adultsinitially children. thanyounger However,with aspects of the L2 faster of of and acquisition pronunciation influence the socioaffective filter(Dulay & Burt, 1978; Krashen,1982), adults sometimes with withSLA, so that time, overall, experience problems younger in acquirerstend to attainhigherlevels of proficiency second thanthose whobeginSLA as adults. languages This studywas designedto followup Cummins's research and on and Krashen, Scarcella, Long'sliterature synthesis age variables, rateof attainment, influence L1 CALP development the and of on In process of L2 CALP development. this study,Cummins's framework usedas a basisfor was of theoretical analysis thetypeof L2 proficiency needed for academic purposes.The measures available forthisstudy, were not teststhatassessedall however, aspectsoflanguage proficiency. the The standardized required tests skill reading of only language to be able to answer questions. the of Metalinguistic knowledge the was assessed in the languagearts test,and abilityto language ideas, problemsolve, and apply generalize, classify, manipulate in areaswas assessedinthereading, knowledge each ofthecontent social studies, tests. Measures used thus science,and mathematics assessedsomeaspectsofL2 CALP development wellas contentas area achievement students. of SinceCummins's (1981a) data were based on 1,210 limited in students Grades English proficient (LEP)
AGE AND RATE OF ACQUISITION 619

K-9 in Canada, this study soughtto extend the literature by in 1,548LEP students GradesK-11in a U.S. context. analyzing METHOD and Sample Setting data from 1977 to 1986 were gatheredon Cross-sectional a students attending large U.S. public school languageminority systemon the East Coast. At the time of the study,language in 11% students population represented ofthetotalstudent minority suburbanarea an this school district. Predominantly affluent a also to connected a largemetropolitan thedistrict included hub, few pockets of low-incomefamilies.Almostall the language to recent in wererelatively students thedistrict immigrants minority and over 100 the UnitedStates,withover 75 different languages countries different represented. students 65% Approximately of the subsetof languageminority or forfree reducedESL instruction received who qualified special of a that upon entry, majority these price lunches,indicating as measuredby U.S. came fromlow-income students families, families of standards. However,a largepercentage theimmigrant an come from upper or middle-income who settlein the district of backgroundin theircountry origin,and they bringstrong to of aspirations upward mobility theirnew home, with many standardof livingin the United a more middle-class achieving arrival. of 10-15 within first the States Thus,thelanguage years their as could bestbe categorized lowerto middle minority population middle-class with aspirations. income, strong In educationalbackground,the large majorityof language schoolat gradelevel,with in entered students thedistrict minority or middle-class upperclassbackgrounds comefrom having parents has In in theirhome countries. just the last 3 years,the district of influx languageminority but increasing a experienced small in native or little no formal with students language. schooling their includedall Subjects forthisstudy,a totalof 1,548students, who were placed in beginning-level students languageminority and remainedin the school systemfor ESL classes upon entry in was of One subset this several population notincluded the years. who testedbelow grade level in L1 skills study,those students with as uponentry, wellas olderstudents testing during placement in or little no formal schooling L1. withthese to was restricted a groupof LEP students This study that it for First, was assumed characteristics tworeasons. particular
620 TESOL QUARTERLY

an "advantaged" those a to groupofLEP immigrants, with middleupper class backgroundin theirhome countryand a strong educational in to background their wouldbe morelikely reach L1, theL2 proficiency content-area and achievement native of English who had a lower class speakers fasterthan LEP immigrants or background werebelow gradelevelin Li skills. Second,since the amountof timerequiredto reach L2 proficiency vary can on at significantly depending level of English proficiency whicha student all and in beginsstudy in English levelof formal schooling theL1, itwas decidedto control these for twovariables. Assessment controlled for variables. a Upon entry, placement-testing determined level of Englishproficiency and students' procedure basic Li literacy mathskills. and After placement a staff member conducted interview an withthestudent hisor herparents and or thestudent givena locally was test relatives, developedplacement to measure and in skills English listening, speaking, reading, writing and abilityto do math computation. The math testsin basic and fractions werewritten computation, decimals, usingsixof the variations in world notationsof math symbols. For major measurement basic literacy theL1, thestudent asked to of in was read a short and to write short a paragraph language samplein the nativelanguage.The placement center staff materials each had in tomakea rough that student had atleast the had language judgment some minimalformaltraining the L1. Bilingualstaffwere in available to analyze in more depth Spanish,Vietnamese, and Koreanlanguagesamples, whichwereamongthelargest minority of language groups thedistrict. A decisionto place a student below gradelevel was based on to to ability producea short writing sampleand ability perform L1 math calculations grade level for the student's at age. A third criterion grade placement for was a student's which transcripts, would indicateinterrupted little or formal or schooling verylow staff had extensive grade pointaverage.Placement references to conduct Students wererarely transcript analysis. placed morethan one gradelevelbelowtheir age-appropriate grade. Characteristics samplechosen.Students theadvantaged of in LEP sample chosen for this study exhibitedthe followingmajor characteristics arrival and entry schooling in English: into all upon over100different countries spokeover75 and (a) Theywerefrom different with single no languages, language predominant, although and Vietnamese Spanish, Korean, the speakers represented largest were of lower to middle-class languagegroups;(b) the students as background, measured U.S. economic but by had standards, they
AGE AND RATE OF ACQUISITION 621

and had come frommiddle-or strongmiddle-class aspirations in homecountries; they had little upperclassbackgrounds their (c) in or no proficiency English; (d) they and wereat orcloseto grade in level in academicskills their In social class and educational L1. in home country, theseLEP students would be background their LEP peerswho came expectedto have an advantageover their lowerclassbackgrounds those from or whohad had interrupted or formal little schooling. In ESLprogram characteristics. thisschoolsystem, once each LEP was testedand placed in theappropriate student gradelevel,the studentwas given special assistancefromESL teachers,who arts structured language instruction English appropriately provided to build a student's level in English. and sequenced proficiency ESL wereno self-contained classes, students Sincethere spentonly and day withspecializedESL teachers therestof the partof their classroom.ESL staffassistedwith the day in the mainstream of as development BICS in English, well as withCALP developin areas.A fewESL contentwith someinstructionthecontent ment at area classes (ESL algebra,ESL biology, etc.) were taught the in instruction did level.Students notreceiveanyformal secondary their at school. L1 felt staff members they until weretaught ESL staff Students by the For in full-time themainstream. exitfrom ESL could function the Achievement students were administered California program, ratedthemon a Test (CTB/McGraw-Hill, 1986),and ESL staff in scale focusingon students'development locally developed and oral oforalcomprehension, expression, reading writing English mainstreamed weregenerally Moststudents habits. and skills, study intothe school 2-3 within yearsof entry fromthe ESL program believed did Mainstreaming notimplythatthe ESL staff system. had achievedCALP in Englishbut thattheywere thatstudents in in far growth CALP skills Englishto sufficiently alongin their class. in a mainstream their continue development Research Questions for are all of 1. How many years schooling inEnglish required LEP social studies, in achievement reading, students' languagearts, to science,and mathematics reachnationalaverage scoresof at native English speakers each gradelevel? the of influence does 2. How strongly age on arrival LEP students rate of acquisitionof cognitiveacademic second language achievement? and proficiency content-area
622 TESOL QUARTERLY

Data Collection Analysis and Cross-sectional for data fromthe years1977-1986 all students were collectedto analyzeage on exitedfromthe ESL program and of arrival rateof attainment someaspectsof CALP in English variables werescores for andcontent-area achievement. Dependent and 11 on the Science Research Associates Grade Levels 4, 6, 8, Series(ScienceResearch Associates, 1978)tests (SRA) Achievement socialstudies, and mathematics. of reading, science, arts, language variables included was done onlyin English. Independent Testing all age on arrivaland numberof yearsof schooling in English, in of to whichforthissamplewas equivalent length residence the and English and mathskillson arrival UnitedStates.L1 literacy variables. werecontrolled level proficiency on arrival availableon machine-readable Schoolrecords, media,wereused to construct the data set. The initialdata tape consistedof on who information all LEP students wereplacedinESL, including of residence, theirage on arrival, sex, primary length language, scores,and grade level in which theywere initially placement placed. These records were checked for errorsby running thatnoted unusualand obviously incorrect computer programs entries whosevaluesexceededthenormal and lowerbounds upper forthatvariable(e.g., an age of 25). In addition, computer the noted inconsistencies the data for a particular among programs student of were (e.g., a student age 16 in Grade 2). These errors corrected. manually Files of SRA testdata forGrades4, 6, 8, and 11 wereavailable fromthe years1982-1986. Otherfileswere availablefrom1977forms theSRA testwereused in those of 1981,but sincedifferent the withthosefrom new the years, scorescould notbe compared form. A set of relationaldata-base computerprogramswas from 160,000 employedto findtestscorematches approximately records each of approximately for students had who 14,000 testing for those students entered who at registered ESL classes.After only thebeginning levelofESL proficiency whowereat gradelevel and in Li literacy mathskills and had been selectedand those students who had notremained theschoolsystem been eliminated, in had remainedin the data file withlongitudinal 1,548 LEP students records ofschoolperformance. (4-6years) With data file, this data setswereconstructed of consisting all the students who had been tested a givengradefora given in number of yearsafter ESL registration, in a totalof 17 different resulting groups.Each of the 17 groupsvaried accordingto the three variablesof length residence, of and grade level age on arrival,
AGE AND RATE OF ACQUISITION 623

whentheSRA testwas taken.The variableof number yearsof of all was defined thefollowing of schooling in English by grouping months: 12-23months (labeled 1-2yearsin thefollowing figures), 24-35 months years), 36-47 months years), 48-59 months (2-3 (3-4 (45 years),and 60-71months of (5-6 years).The number yearsof all included time as schooling in English spentin theESL program in wellas timespent themainstream. therewere no significant in differences Amongthe 17 groups, educationalbackground, level of Englishproficiency in upon of arrival,or in proportional representation sex and language Table 1 presents general the of background. pattern representation of sex and languagebackground within sampleacrossthefour the gradelevelstested.
TABLE1 ofSample EachGrade SexandLanguage in by Percentage Background Grade 4 Spanish Vietnamese Korean Farsi Chinese Khmer Lao Urdu Japanese Arabic Other Total Female Male Total 23 17 16 5 5 4 4 3 3 3 17 100 53 47 100 6 Language background 21 20 21 7 3 4 3 3 3 2 13 100 Sex 49 51 100 8 20 19 27 6 4 3 2 4 3 1 11 100 48 52 100 11 18 20 24 6 7 6 5 2 1 2 9 100 48 52 100

of deviations the For each of thesegroups, meansand standard test scoresin theachievement areasofreading, thescaledstandard were language arts, social studies,science, and mathematics intervals the means were for confidence computed.In addition, and for in The meansare displayed graphs each subtest calculated. meanscoresare also given). foreach gradetested (schoolsystem the The meansweregraphically by represented converting mean standard scores into normal curve equivalents (NCEs), for
624 TESOL QUARTERLY

interval-level appropriate scaling.NCEs are the appropriate ofpercentilesusewhen to the in equivalent displaying results graph form becausea NCE is a conversion thepercentile equalof into interval Unlike data. NCEs for percentiles, arepreferred statistical scales equal-interval (Tallmadge, 1976). Thenumber casesfor of eachgroup from (for outof 21 3 ranged
because arithmetical can analysis operations be performed on only 17 groups)to 151,or an averageof74 pergroup, a providing large in enough number for testingfor statistical significance the

differences between The groups. school system comparison group both included native and consisted (which speakers ESL graduates) ofanaverage 9,258 of students year eachgrade each for level. itwas that between means 6of intervals, found a difference group 7 NCEs was sufficient significancethe.05leveleveninthe for at smallest groups. somecases, of In differences3-4NCEs of group weresignificantthe.01level.Becauseof thelargenumber at of to of of groups be compared groups LEP students, 4 groups (17 plus
As a generalguideline thisstudy, computing in confidence by

duetothe of high probabilitymaking I errors. important Type Only
weremade and are reported here. comparisons RESULTS

native speakers,times 5 subject areas, or 105 groups total), tests each possible werenotperformed significance for comparison

Several consistent in the of fairly patterns scoring among groups ESL graduates as of emerged analysis thedata was conducted. Thesepatterns reported focusing differences are on by among of groups (a) length residence, ageonarrival, grade-level by (b) (c) achievement grade when tested),and (d) subject-area (by achievement. of Length Residence ForLEP students this in the of of allstudy, number years their was equal to their of in English schooling length residence the UnitedStates.Results reported are usingthe termlength of residence to be consistent other with studies similar (LOR) using variables. Foroverhalf thecomparisons of between groups LOR, the by moreyearsof all-English LEP schooling theyhad, the higher students thesamegrade in scored the on SRAtests. increase The in scores eachgroup that achieved with eachadditional LOR year's was verysmalland in mostcases not statistically significant. in However, 15outof16comparisons the of (with exception certain
AGE AND RATE OF ACQUISITION 625

to LOR of4-5years 2-8 with achieved groups, be discussed), groups NCEs higher thangroups withLOR of 1-2years. 10 outof 16 of In these comparisons, groups scored at least 4 NCEs higher,a increase overall. to were general significant Exceptions this pattern in 6- and 7-year-old tested fourth arrivals arrivals 5-year-old grade, in in and tested sixth arrivals tested eighth grade, grade,12-year-old whichare all discussed achievement acrossall grades, mathematics inlatersections. on ESL graduates' academic achievement Figures1-4 illustrate of achievement length the SRA tests, by subject-area comparing for students were residence age on arrival each gradeat which and tested. Reportedbelow each figureare school systemmeans, a to from 59th the71stNCEs, with meanof64 NCEs for the ranging areasand grades. acrossall subject theschoolsystem with achievement of An exampleof thepattern slightly higher each group'sadded yearof LOR can be seenin Figure1 in fourth graders'reading,language arts, and social studiesscores, for withLOR The 5-year-old withLOR of 1-4years. students arrivals, and the did of4-5years, notmaintain pattern werea specialcase,to LEP scoredat the46th be discussed Fourth-grade students shortly. the administered SRA testat 1-2years whenfirst NCE in reading the LOR had reached 51stNCE, with years' 3-4 LOR, and thegroup arts and Socialstudies language above thenational average. slightly werehigher the between sametwoLOR groups scorecomparisons and by twoNCEs (at the52ndNCE in socialstudies the57thNCE difference. not in language significant arts), a statistically the whichdemonstrate sixth scores, graders' Figure2 illustrates in even moreconsistently reading, science, languagearts, pattern arrivals with The achievement. 6- and 7-year-old and socialstudies the did LOR of 4-5 yearsand 5-6 yearsrespectively notmaintain The and gradewith shortly. groupinthesixth pattern are discussed LOR of with scores overthegroup their increased LOR of3-4years the test 1-2yearsby 5 NCEs on thereading (reaching 51stNCE), 6 arts(at the62ndNCE), 4 NCEs in socialstudies NCEs in language NCE), and 4 NCEs in science(at the58thNCE). (at the59th withthe for a graders, pattern eighth Figure3 illustrates similar another arrivals, special case to be exceptionof the 12-year-old the In later. comparing eighth-grade discussed groupwithLOR of increased test with LOR of4-5years, scores with group the 2-3years the NCE), 4 NCEs inlanguage (reaching 47th by3 NCEs inreading arts(at the54thNCE), 6 NCEs in socialstudies the58thNCE), (at and 3 NCEs in science(at the51stNCE). in tested the11th difference amonggroups Figure4 showslittle in but LOR of1-2, 2-3,and 3-4years, students thegroup gradewith
626 TESOL QUARTERLY

in with LOR of 4-5 years increasedtheirscores significantly withthoseof 1-2 years'LOR, withan increaseof 8 comparison arts the NCEs inreading (reaching 31stNCE), 7 NCEs inlanguage NCE), and (at (at the42ndNCE), 3 NCEs insocialstudies the38th 7 NCEs in science(at the37thNCE). at NCE overall, withnational Whencompared averages the50th below age 12 appeared to be withage on arrival LEP students 2 makinggood progresswithintheirfirst years of all-English with on arrival LOR, all groups age By schooling. theendof2 years' of 6-11had reachedat least the50thNCE on the languagearts, 8and socialstudies, mathematics (Although datafor and tests. only for arrivals shownin thefigures LOR of 1-2years, are 10-year-old thatif the pattern of is thisstatement based on the assumption in increases scoresremained consistent, 7-,9-,and 11-year-old 6-, 1-2 within would also have reached the 50thpercentile arrivals in and arrivals tested thefourth sixth years.)The 6- to 11-year-old their 2 first gradeshad also reachedthe50thNCE insciencewithin in thosetested eighth gradereachedthe51st years'LOR, whereas in thosetested fourth NCE by 4-5years' LOR. On thereading test, the and sixth reached 51stNCE at theendof3-4years' LOR, grades but thosetestedin eighth gradehad onlyreachedthe47thNCE 4-5 after years'LOR. at some groupsof LEP students all gradelevelshad Although reachedthe50thNCE (thenational average)on somesubject-area in testswithin 4-5 yearsmeasured thisstudy, the whencompared in withtheachievement local school levelsofnative speakers their LEP had district, students notyetbegunto reachtheschoolsystem 62-64NCEs in meansacrossgradelevelsof62-64NCEs inreading, and 59-64NCEs in languagearts,60-65NCEs in social studies, science. They had, for the mostpart,met and excellednative in in achievement mathematics, whichtheschoolsystem speakers' 62 meanranged from to71 NCEs acrossall gradelevels. Ageon Arrival As can be seenin Figure1, a gradual in upwardtrend scoresfor each group with an additionalyear'sLOR was evidenton the and socialstudies tests. arts, reading, language Onlythe5-year-old who had been in the U.S. longerthantheotherfourtharrivals, did for of gradegroups, notachieveat a levelexpected their length residence. Thesestudents scored6 NCEs loweron thereading test than 6-year-old the who arrivals, had 1 yearlessLOR, reaching only the45thNCE, 4 NCEs lowerin languageartsat the53rdNCE, 9
AGE AND RATE OF ACQUISITION 627

00

FIGURE1 onArrival of (LOR), and (AOA),Length Residence Age Achievement 4th-Grade Scores for SRA Subject-Area 80-

AgeonArriv Subject-A 80--

70-

50

A -. -- - -A
30-

40o Reading
Social studies Science

""-- --* ..

arts Language
30-

C3 ?: Hr
3,

20o

- -.- A0

AOA 8 6 7 5 LOR 1-2yrs. 2-3 yrs. 3-4yrs. 4-5yrs. LOR 1-2 yrs. 2-3yrs. 3-4 yrs. 4-5 yrs.

I

II

" -Mathematics

20-

AOA LOR

means 4thgradewereas follows: for Note:Schoolsystem arts-63;socialstudies-60; reading-62;language science-59;mathematics-62.

Note: Schoolsyst ing-62; lan mathemat

C) C C)

TI z

FIGURE 3 onArrival ofResidence (AOA),Length (LOR), and Age SRA Achievement 8th-Grade Scores for Subject-Area 80- --'z-

AgeonA Subject 80

?r

z3

70-

....

--

- A-

70-

?) r)

60-

i

60--

50-r-

a

50-

240--

4-40
20--

20 AOA

I 12

II 11 10

I 9

LOR 1-2yrs. 2-3yrs. 3-4yrs. 4-5yrs.

means 8thgradewereas follows: for Note:Schoolsystem arts-64;socialstudies-65; reading-64;language science-63; mathematics-71.

Note: Scho follo stud

NCEs lowerin social studiesat the43rd NCE, 3 NCEs lowerin scienceat the49thNCE, and 4 NCEs lowerin mathematics the at 59thNCE. A similar was test pattern foundin thescoreson thesixth-grade 6for and 7-year-old who below the arrivals, werealso significantly level for theirLOR (see Figure 2). appropriateperformance arrivals with8-year-old who had 1 Comparing 7-year-old arrivals, reachedthesamelevelon reading yearlessLOR, bothgroups (the 51stNCE) and language arts(the62ndNCE). In socialstudies, the arrivals were3 NCEs lowerat the56th in science 7-year-old NCE, 3 NCEs lowerat the55thNCE, and in mathematicsNCEs lower 6 at the68thNCE. Even moredramatic in dropsoccurred thescores of 6-year-old who had 2 yearsmoreLOR than8-year-old arrivals, withscoresin reading NCEs lower(at the48thNCE), in 3 arrivals, arts8 NCEs lower (at the54thNCE), in social studies 6 language NCEs lower (at the53rdNCE), in science8 NCEs lower (at the 50thNCE), and in mathematics NCEs lower(at the60th 14 NCE). In theeighth arrivals withonly grade(see Figure3), 12-year-old 1-2years'LOR achievedat a higher level than11-year-old arrivals with2-3years'LOR. In reading, 12-year-old the arrivals achieved1 NCE higher, a significant In difference. languagearts, two not the reachedthesame level.Twelve-year-old arrivals' scoresin groups in socialstudies were5 NCEs higher, science3 NCEs higher, in and 5 mathematicsNCEs higher. Achievement Grade-Level in of Another consistent pattern scoresappearedin comparisons acrossgradelevels.As can be seen in Figure4, the achievement LEP students' scoreswere dramatically test lowerthan 11th-grade in 4th, and 8thgrades(see Figures LEP students' 6th, performance testedafter1-2yearsof English schooling 1-3). The 11thgraders the scoredfrom 23rdto the35thNCE on reading, languagearts, 3-4 had made meager and social studies, science.After years, they with years 4-5 the on as measured theSRA.Finally, group progress withthe scoresby 4-8 NCEs, in comparison their LOR increased increase. Eleventh-grade groupwith3-4 years'LOR, a significant ESL graduatesstill appeared to need several more years of measured hereinorder to in beyondthe4-5years schooling English and 60th-64th levels (50thNCE nationwide reach native-speaker NCE forthelocal district).
630 TESOL QUARTERLY

Mathachievement ESL graduates the11th of in gradewas much than11th-grade in achievement other higher areas,reaching subject above national lowerthan averages(53rd-59th 4th-, NCEs) butstill LEP students' mathachievement. The 11th6th-,and 8th-grade meanin mathematics at the67th was NCE. gradeschoolsystem Achievement Subject-Area Whencomparing 1-4 subject-area performance, Figures illustrate with LEP students high mathematics achievement, scoring3-6 NCEs above native evenintheir 2 years all-English first of speakers with exception 11th the of whoscored14 NCEs schooling, graders, belowtheschoolsystem mean.Scoresinmathematics did generally notvarysignificantly in acrossgroups each gradelevel,remaining at levelofachievement eachadditional with basically thesamehigh arrivals' year of LOR. Exceptionswere the 5-year-old drops in scoreson the 4th-grade arrivals' test,6- and 7-year-old drops in scores on the 6th-grade arrivals' betterperfortest,12-year-old mance in comparison withthe other8th-grade groups,and the increased achievement thegroup 11th of in with LOR of4-5 grade All with on arrival 8-11years of scoredabove the years. groups age schoolsystem meanin mathematics, of regardless LOR. Whereas mathematicsrepresentedESL graduates' highest theirlowest scoreswere in reading.Reading and performance, arts areasdirectly focused testing on language werethetwosubject in knowledge of L2. Performance these two areas differed with from 5-11NCEs higher the on significantly, students scoring and languagearts test,whichmeasuredpunctuation, grammar, in the social studies, spelling.Differences performance among science, and language arts tests were not for the most part significant. DISCUSSION 5-7 Ageon Arrival: The data in thisstudy younger on arrivals (ages 5-7) appear to Cummins's threshold support hypothesis (1976) and his interdependence hypothesis(1981b), which describes the "common of two "To underlying proficiency" a student's languages: theextent thatinstruction Lx is effective promoting in in in proficiency Lx, transfer thisproficiency Ly will occur providedthereis of to adequate exposureto Ly (eitherin school or environment) and
AGE AND RATE OF ACQUISITION 631

to arguesthat adequate motivation learn Ly" (p. 29). Cummins of commonunderlying makes possible the transfer proficiency from languageto another. one He academicproficiency cognitive in mustbe someminimal that literacy development suggests there L2 and to to theL1 forcognitive readily the development transfer aids levelsignificantly theprocessof thatthisminimal "threshold" in CALP development theL2. involvesa The data in thisstudysuggestthatthis threshold most rapid minimum 2 years of L1 schoolingfor students' of in in through progress CALP development the L2. Amongfirst at here forseveralyears,onlyarrivals age 5 who graders eighth at weretestedin fourth gradeand arrivals ages 6 and 7 who were at in did notachieveata rateequal toarrivals ages tested sixth grade had thesameLOR. bothgroups when 8-11, of increase 1 NCE at assuming least a minimal Conservatively testedin arrivals of LOR, the5-year-old foreach additional year level of below theirpredicted scored significantly fourth grade 5 scoreon reading, at achievement, 7 NCEs below their predicted 4 10 NCEs below on languagearts, NCEs below on socialstudies, or and 5 NCEs below on mathematics, an NCEs below on science, testscombined,of 6 NCEs below average,on all subject-area for levels of performance theirLOR. Using the same expected in tested thesixth arrivals gradewere5, 10,8, measure, 6-year-old or scores, an averageof 10 predicted 10,and 16 NCEs below their in arrivals NCEs below. Similarly, grade tested thesixth 7-year-old and 7 NCEs below their were 1, 1, 4, 4, scores,or an predicted for levelsof performance their averageof3 NCEs below expected LOR. of receivedtheleastamount arrivals These5-,6-,and 7-year-old in olderarrivals thestudy. all with other in L1 schooling comparison them This was the onlyknownvariablethatdifferentiated from who thestudents took One might olderLEP arrivals. why question did of on arrival 6 or7 years test the4th-grade and whohad an age of the notseemto experience samelowerlevelsofachievement the test takerswhose age on arrivalwas 6 or 7 years. 6th-grade to However, it is important rememberthat the test at each succeeding grade level becomes cognitivelymore complex. areasbecomemorevisible of lags Apparent in mastery thecontent the in evident thedata from in theuppergrades.Thisis especially lth-gradetest.
632 TESOL QUARTERLY

12-15 Ageon Arrival: on Atfirst arrivals study adolescent (ages glance,thedata in this to contradict Cummins's (1981b) interdependence 12-15)appear which predictsthat "older learnerswho are more hypothesis, and whose LI proficiency better is mature developed cognitively would acquire cognitively demanding aspectsof L2 proficiency morerapidlythanyounger learners" 29). Even witha strong (p. in in academicbackground their students this whoarrived L1, study in 7thgradeat age 12 and were tested yearslaterin 11thgrade 4 in were substantially below nationalnormsin achievement all areasexceptmathematics. subject In thisresearcher's thesedramatic however, opinion, dropsin adolescents' scores cannot be attributed thecritical to automatically period hypothesis (Lenneberg, 1967), or, to use Oyama's (1976) the the term, sensitive Instead, majordifference periodhypothesis. in academicperformance be a result the schools'greater of may at demandson students thesecondary leveland thelimited length oftimeLEP secondary students havetoreachthose levels.The 8thversions theSRA differ of and gradeand 11th-grade dramatically, these differencesare stronglyreflectedin the high school curriculum. thisstudy, In arrivals the 12-year-old taking 8th-grade SRA testwere scoring aroundthe 50thNCE afterjust2 years in whereas12-year-old arrivals the schooling English, taking 11thSRA testafter years'schooling English only 5 in had reached grade the31stNCE in reading, 42ndNCE in language 38thNCE in arts, socialstudies, 37th NCE in science, 59th and NCE inmathematics. It must keptin mindthat be theseLEP students werenotbeing withany Li content instruction help themcontinue to provided and at cognitive academicsubjectmastery gradelevelwhilethey wereacquiring levelsofBICS and CALP in English. beginning By thetime had in to they acquiredenough proficiency English receive in instruction content-area meaningful classes, theyhad in the meantimelost 2-3 years of CALP developmentand content in and socialstudies their at knowledge mathematics, science, agebehindin mastery the of gradelevel. This put themsignificantly for Between their complexmaterial required highschoolstudents. third and fourth all yearsof schooling in English, theybegan to increase their achievement butevenprojecting increased this levels, rate (an averageof 6 NCEs per year),it might 6-8 require years LOR for them to reach national averages of native-speaker achievement across all the subjectareas. Cumminset al. (1984)
AGE AND RATE OF ACQUISITION 633

in this discuss possibility summarizing literature olderversus the on arrivals: younger Thefindings Cummins of that of suggest theeffects LOR tend [1981a] in and of todiminish 5 years thus, terms immigrant after students' ability in norms L2 academic toapproach there be a critical skills, may grade it at which willbecome increasingly age age on arrival about 12,after to for difficult students catch (p.79) up. of of amount L1 transfer of Another confirmation thesignificant of contentknowledgeto L2 and the difficulty losing time in while acquiringL2 was evidentin the academic development test Twelve-year-old among eighth-grade takers. scoring pattern on better withonly1-2years'LOR performed arrivals significantly tests and mathematics than11-year-old thescience,social studies, instruction with2-3 years'LOR. The loss of content-area arrivals arrivals wereacquiring while11-year-old English appearedtolower of had arrivals theadvantage the whereas 12-year-old their scores, L2 to of Ll content instruction apply to their an additional year content knowledge. In a reexaminationof the data that support Cummins's of on of a focusing thedevelopment hypotheses,number thestudies with olderarrivals arrivals that skills contrast CALP-related younger of as define olderstudents 8-12years age (see,for Burstall, example, Cumminset al., 1984; Ekstrand, 1974; 1976; Ervin-Tripp, 1975; & Grinder, Otomo,& Toyota,1962;Skutnabb-Kangas Toukomaa, for confirmation thehypothesis further provides 1976).This study of attainment the second languageforacademic thatthe fastest is purposesoccursamongthosewhose age on arrival 8-11years, arrival. in theL2 after are whenthesestudents schooledonly to arrivals teenageor adult Otherstudiescomparing younger oflanguage on focus theearliest arrivals acquisition stages generally & Asher Garcia,1969; skills and on BICS-related (see, forexample, Asher & Price, 1967; Ekstrand, 1978; Olson & Samuels,1973; Oyama, 1976, 1978; Patkowski, 1980; Seliger, Krashen, & 1977; Stern,1967). Ladefoged,1975; Snow & Hoefnagel-Hdhle, these studiesshow initialfastergains in BICS among Although et by (as teenageand adultarrivals summarized Krashen al., 1979), lookat student fewofthesestudies gainsacrosstime. CALP gains across time (Cummins, Two studies examining L2 faster Shle,1978)appearto support 1981a;Snow& Hoefnagle-H but students, bothstudies among12- to 15-year-old development used the same languagemeasuresacrossall ages and examined focusedon teststhat however, absolutegains.The present study, scoresused to changewitheach gradelevel,withscaled standard
634 TESOL QUARTERLY

The SRA testreflects compareone age withanother. appropriate and acrosstime.None cognitive academicdevelopment age-grade of thestudiescitedabove measured academicgainsovertimein socialstudies, andmathematics, did this as science, language, study. A moredetailedanalysis theliterature age and time of on variables in secondlanguage in is acquisition provided Collier(1987). This study,therefore, a new hypothesis that older supports students who arrive ages 12-15 at thegreatest experience difficulty withacquisition theL2 foracademicpurposes, of combined with content-area when these students are continuing development, schooledonlyin theL2. Suchstudents Grades7-12cannot in easily afford even 1 or 2 years'loss of cognitive and academic develin are The opment all subjectareas whilethey mastering English. datasuggest secondary-level that students most needof in are study in content-area classestaught theL1, in orderforthemto stayat Another alternative gradelevel whiletheyare mastering English. be of content-area classesfor might thedevelopment accelerated advancedESL students, 2-3years' academicworkin very covering 1-2 years.Content-area ESL classes taught students' at level of shouldalso be developedforstudents the in Englishproficiency of ESL. early years 8-11 AgeonArrival: Giventhatthe5-year-old arrivals less performed well thantheir arrivals less well did peersin 4thgrade,thatthe6- and 7-year-old than their the arrivals peersin6thgrade,and that 12-to 15-year-old testedin 11thgradeachievedsignificantly lowerthanthenational 4-5 then averageevenafter yearsof all-English schooling, it would thatthe8- to 11-year-old arrivals the appear experienced shortest oftime reaching aspects CALP development the for the of in length L2 measured theSRA tests. by These students reachedat leastthe50thNCE in language had socialstudies, mathematics and within their 2 yearsofallfirst arts, In science,the 4th-and 6th-grade takers test Englishschooling. made it to the53rdand 54thNCEs in just2 years, it took4-5 but for test to years the8th-grade takers reachthe51stNCE. In reading, the one test focused on a pragmatic measure of language all and test madeitto the51st proficiency, the4th- 6th-grade takers NCE after years'LOR, but thosetaking 8th-grade 3-4 the reading testhad onlyreachedthe47thNCE after years'LOR. Again, 4-5 it must remembered thetests eachsucceeding be that at levelbecome
635

more complex. cognitively

AGE AND RATE OF ACQUISITION

this these Although is a remarkable accomplishment, advantaged LEP studentswith a middle-classbackgroundand adequate with of educationin theirL1 have highexpectations competing admission and thusneed to score nativespeakersforuniversity higher than the 50th NCE on tests focused on language. in at attained native Achievement by speakers theschooldistrict, a 3-4 meanof 64 NCEs acrossall subject areas,wouldrequire more in CALP development subjectknowledge and yearsof continuing of arrivals' the theL2, projecting present pattern 8- to 11-year-old made each year. increases and Arts Reading Language on better ESL graduates' performance thelanguageartstestin of withthe readingtestwas indicative the different comparison arts The language the measured. that twotests aspectsof language test measured the more mechanical,easily taughtaspects of These testitems and punctuation. spelling, language--grammar, knowledge about the provided a measure of metalinguistic perspective language-testing language, from a discrete-point, (Lado, 1961). test a included vocabulary of on The reading hand, test, theother as and reading synonyms antonyms well as questionsfollowing passages. The subject matterof these passages comprehension skills areas,to consumer rangedfromtopicstakenfromcontent In to or such as newspapereditorials advertisements, literature. focusof the languageartstest,test to contrast the discrete-point test on items thereading weremuchmorepragmatic (Oller,1979), a a measuring wide rangeof languagedomainsthrough reading that for context thequestions passage thatset an age-appropriate followed. skills test The reading alsoassessedthinking andwas moreclosely continuum end to related theacquisition oftheacquisition-learning usedto of the test, types items 1981).On theSRA reading (Krashen, measure vocabularydevelopmentand reading comprehension at the processes, theupper cognitive required use ofmorecomplex levelsof Bloom'staxonomy Bloom& Krathwohl, 1977).Such (see in to appeartotakelonger master L2 CALP development processes SRA in of thanthemechanics languagemeasured theverylimited of languageartstest.The content the SRA readingtestwas also of subtests in to related thecontent moreclosely presented language serveas and admission thus for tests university standardized might a more appropriatepredictorof these LEP students'future tests. on language performance standardized
636 TESOL QUARTERLY

Mathematics LEP students perform can It is encouraging advantaged that so even of wellin mathematics, whenportions theexaminclude math which more on and solving, rely heavily language concepts problem skills. achievement was theremarkably mathematics Although high ESL graduates' to the exception othercontent-area achievement, as found theother scoresstill followed samepattern that the four ini content-area tests. The 5-year-old arrivals testedin 4thgradeand the 6- and 7-year-oldarrivals tested in 6th grade achieved below their significantly peerswho had been in theUnitedStates for a shortertime. Likewise, the ESL graduates'11th-grade in achievement mathematics was stillconsiderably below ESL and achievement mathematics. in 4th-, 6th-, 8th-grade graduates' CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS Across subject all and areastested allgradelevelscombined, LEP in students this between ages of8 and 11 werethe the study arriving fastest achievers. arrivals were slightly below this Seven-year-old withan averageof 3 NCEs below projected scores performance, LOR. LEP students fortheir at ages5 and6 wereprojected arriving torequire least2-3moreyears' at LOR toreachthe8-to11-year-old arrivals' level.LEP students between ages the performance arriving of12 and 15 werethelowestachievers, having not reached national 4-5 after averagescoresin any subjectarea exceptmathematics LOR. Theywereprojected need at leastanother years to 2-3 years' to reachthe50th NCE on all subject-area tests. The data imply that 6-,and 7-year-old arrivals 5-, might acquire foracademicpurposes if morerapidly they wereprovided English a minimum 2 yearsof continuing of academicdevelopcognitive mentin theL1. Arrivals ages 12 to 15 cannot at afford lose time to in academicinstruction thecontent in areas taught gradelevel. at These subjectsmight taught be either the through L1 or through intensive in coursestaught the L2 when students sufficiently are in English be able to workat gradelevel. It clearly to proficient takesa longtimeto acquireCALP and attain levelsof appropriate academicachievement theL2 inall thesubject in areas.Depending on age of arrival, may take theseadvantagedLEP students it from4-8 years or more to reach the 50th NCE on anywhere standardized acrossall thesubject tests areas.It willtakethem even to reach nativespeakers'attainment theirown school in longer district. It should not be assumed fromthisstudythatstandardized,
AGE AND RATE OF ACQUISITION 637

tests of multiple-choice arean adequatemeasure CALP. TheseSRA testsmeasureonly very limitedaspects of the whole range of For theydo notmeasure listening languageproficiency. instance, oral skills, writing reasoning, strategic comprehension, production, or initiative, creativity, many pragmaticaspects of language. limit on their students' Moreover, anxiety a timedtestcan greatly testshave what theyknow.Standardized abilityto demonstrate limitations well. as other many as are as Nevertheless, longas thesetests used in themainstream to for a significant measureof academic achievement students move fromone level to the nextor to be selectedfor special needto use education we academicprograms, inESL and bilingual such tests to assess our students'ability to achieve in the to show thatthereis no shortcut the These findings mainstream. academicsecond languageproficiency of development cognitive It in and to academicachievement thesecondlanguage. is a process that takesa long,longtime. We plan to continueanalyzingthis extensivedata base for will be Scores fromfuture additionalfindings. years of testing eachESL to will added,and a time-series study be undertaken track variableswill be added in orderto graduate.New independent in analyze differences educational background,sociocultural student variables,and many other factorsthat may influence and achievement secondlanguage acquisition.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
his P. in I wouldliketo thank Wayne Thomasfor valuableassistance construction for Eda files of thecomputer and data analysis; Valero-Figueira collegial support on comments an earlier and and suggestions; MichaelO'Malleyforhis helpful Educational of at of version this meeting theAmerican article, presented theannual 1987. in Association Washington, inApril Research DC, THE AUTHOR of Director the and of Professor Education Associate is P. Virginia Collier Assistant at TeacherPreparation GeorgeMason Centerfor Bilingual/Multicultural/ESL of on are interests focused applications secondlanguage Her University. research of She is co-author the teacher to research the classroom. training acquisition Contexts textbookBilingualand ESL Classrooms: Teachingin Multicultural 1985). (McGraw-Hill,
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