The Beyond the Bell Branch of the Los Angeles Unified School District operates the largest high school after school program in California. The program is offered at 73 high schools, serving around 85,000 students annually, of which nearly 13,000 are English Learners (ELs). Beyond the Bell’s targeted intervention for ELs, Language in Action, serves around 2,000 ELs per year, most of which are long-term ELs from Spanish-speaking homes.
Dr. Stephen Price (ERC evaluator) and Dr. Harry Talbot (LAUSD administrator) presented recent findings from Beyond the Bell’s high school programs at the American Evaluation Association’s November 2015 Conference in Chicago, Illinois. Results of their quasi-experimental study showed that frequent EL participants made significantly greater gains on the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) than carefully matched non-participants.
These findings supported the hypothesis that language learning is a socially mediated process, which provides the theoretical basis for Beyond the Bell’s outreach to ELs. The Language in Action program offers ELs the chance to work collaboratively on service-learning projects and engage in purposeful interaction with peers which increases their motivation to learn English. These opportunities for ELs to practice oral language in safe, informal environments, complements direct language instruction received during the regular school day.