Influence of Social and Cultural Capital including Language of English Learners on Student Engagement

Michelle Scribner, University of Redlands

© 2016 Michelle Scribner

All Rights Reserved

ISBN: 9781369270860

Abstract

English learners typically score below their English only peers on state and national standardized tests, demonstrating that there is a need to explore possibilities as to why this achievement gap is widening. Applying a conceptual framework stemming from the concepts of social and cultural capital from sociologist Bourdieu, this study examines the language as social and cultural capital of English learners at a school site and its influence on student engagement. This qualitative study used narrative inquiry and a semi structured interview protocol to gain insights from teachers, students and district personnel. Although the findings in this study are not generalizable, it suggest language influences a student’s ability to be engaged in the classroom through access, relationships, trust, identity, success, and cultural diversity and awareness in this particular school site found in a local Southern California school district. Having a deeper understanding of how language, social and cultural capital influence engagement will assist educators in planning instructional lessons that are academically rigorous and relevant to the student in order to provide access and upward social mobility to English learner students.