Non-Traditional Bilingual Education: An Ethnography of Hillcrest Elementary


Bilingual education is controversial in many places in the U.S. Some traditional bilingual education programs only stress teaching a second language to non-native English speakers. Sometimes in these programs, non-native English speakers remain separated from native English speakers, have low expectations placed upon them, and do not learn English proficiently. Diverse groups have proposed eliminating bilingual education, and bilingual education was banned in California and Arizona. Hillcrest Elementary School, located in Orlando, Florida, has a large percentage of students who speak English, Spanish and Vietnamese as their first languages. Hillcrest Elementary is distinctive, since it teaches bilingual education to both non-native and native English speakers. Second-language instruction at Hillcrest Elementary differs from the standard model; for example, students are taught science in their second language.

Students also have what is called "Community Time," where students who speak different native languages are mixed together, and are taught subjects in English. The purpose of my research was to gain an understanding of the type of bilingual education taught at the school, including how the curriculum is set up and taught. I began ethnographic fieldwork using the cultural anthropology method of participant observation by volunteering in an after-school program at Hillcrest Elementary starting in Spring 2004. I also observed language classes at Hillcrest, carried out interviews with administrators, faculty members, teachers, parents and students at the school, and examined FCAT scores. My analysis shows that students are succeeding at learning a second language, and that Hillcrest Elementary has an effective bilingual program.


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Thesis Completion





Zorn, Elayne


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program

Liberal Studies


Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences; Education, Bilingual -- Study and teaching (Elementary) -- Florida -- Orlando; Hillcrest Elementary School (Orlando, Fla.) -- Curricula







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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