Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Sarah J. Noonan, Ed.D.; Thomas L. Fish, Ed.D.; Robert J. Brown, Ph.D.


A phenomenological study was conducted to examine the experiences of adolescent English Language Learners (ELL) of Latin American descent living in rural Midwestern communities. Participants experienced psychological and social responses related to the major life change of immigrating to a new country and adapting to an alien culture. Challenges experienced by adolescent immigrants involved a chronological and simultaneous process of adaptation, as evidenced by the following stages: (1) apprehension about coming to a new country and fitting in with friends when they started school; (2) adjustment to the new culture and alien environment; (3) cultural bereavement and ambiguous loss. Learning English served as a means of communicating and a key factor in helping the participants adapt to a new culture. Recommendations to address the issues regarding academic and social challenges faced by immigrant students of Latino origin with limited English proficiency included providing a support person such as a home liaison or advocate for the student to increase communication between the school and family, initiating a mentor-tutor program in the school and community, and providing professional development for teachers working with ELL and immigrant students. Recommendations include further research on factors contributing to the academic success of students adjusting to major life changes may help address concerns relating to low academic achievement and high dropout rates among Latino students.


English Language Learners, English as a Second Language, Cultural Adaptation, Limited English Proficient

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

This file may be slow to open due to its size. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Included in

Education Commons