Document Type



Children worldwide learn multiple languages at a young age, especially if they do not live in a country with English as the dominant language. While teaching young children languages other than English has not been a common practice in the United States, research shows that the practice is still growing and there is increased awareness of cultural competence in teaching languages (Garcia-Vazquez et al., 2021; Ingle, 2021). This study aims to discover the cognitive and social-emotional effects of learning an additional language at a young age. To examine this, 90 fifth-grade English Learner students were observed for 35 hours in an academic environment learning Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). These IRB-approved structured observations were conducted with guiding questions to ensure that data collection was relevant to the research. Students with equivalent capabilities in their languages (both native or heritage and later acquired) were faster than their peers in grasping concepts or ideas and articulating them and tended to be more confident and engaged in the classroom. These observations and prior research suggest a correlation between the acquisition of multiple languages and high social-emotional and cognitive engagement in the classroom. More observations are being conducted of third, fourth, and fifth grade English Learner students and native and heritage English speakers to better examine this correlation. Interview questions with teacher of English Learners supplement these additional observations.


Elementary Education & Global Languages and Literatures

Thesis Comittee

Dr. Marlene Correia, Thesis Advisor
Dr. Alexandra Balconi, Thesis Advisor
Dr. José I. Lara, Committee Member
Dr. Gia Renaud, Committee Member

Copyright and Permissions

Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.