The Education of ELL Students in Lewiston, Maine

Department or Program

Interdisciplinary Studies


America has a long history of believing its public schools could resolve all of society's challenges. As waves of European immigrants entered through Ellis Island around the turn of the twentieth century, government officials looked to the schools to teach new immigrants how to “be American." Given the significant role that American public schools have played in the lives of immigrant students over the last century and a half, this thesis explores the approach that Lewiston High School takes in educating new immigrant students today. Through classroom observations, interviews with faculty and administrators, and a student focus group, I examine the ways in which the school might be trying to “Americanize” students, and also the ways in which the school may be working to protect the unique cultural and linguistic heritage of its students. I explore the role a teacher’s individual priorities for the education of ELL students plays in the classroom, tensions between traditional Muslim gender norms and expectations of mixed gender classrooms, and the ways in which culture (either that of the teacher or the students) is referenced as a part of the learning environment.

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Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

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