Document Type

Capstone Project (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


Social, Behavioral & Global Studies

First Advisor

Armando Arias


The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of English as a Second Language and English Language Learners—ESL and ELL respectively—programs in helping students whose native language is not English achieve academic success in school. The general issue with these programs is that more often than not, students whose native language is not English are placed in separate classrooms from their peers, which leads to an academic disadvantage because the focus is on language acquisition. This does not provide other forms of long-term knowledge that will help the students. In other words, ESL and ELL programs are efficient when it comes to teaching students the English language, but some may focus on language acquisition more, and disregard other materials or limit social interactions with the students in the programs. The theory used in this study was Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, which states that there is a social component to English acquisition since an English learner requires an individual who is more knowledgeable to teach them the language, and interaction between the two is crucial for the success of language acquisition to be possible. The methods used were a mix of qualitative and quantitative approaches. I was also able to have first-hand knowledge on the use of a different language in a classroom setting that might not be native to all students. This research includes an extensive literature review on literature regarding ESL and ELL programs, and a service-learning component in order to analyze the effectiveness of such programs, and the impact that they have on students, primarily those who are in elementary school. This research concludes that ESL and ELL programs are effective when it comes to non-native English speakers achieving academic success in their education because of the incorporation of other material, such as language arts, rather than focusing solely on language acquisition, and that the inclusion of another language in the classroom helps students with their cognitive development.