Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program


Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell PhD

First Reader

Madalienne F. Peters, EdD

Second Reader

Elizabeth Truesdell, PhD


Assessment of the effect of targeted instruction of functional language skills for English language learners (ELL) enrolled in community college basic skills classes is important as community colleges continue to offer noncredit courses for ELL students designed to improve English skills. The Foundations Skills Committee at a community college in a rural setting in Northern California received a State of California grant to provide basic skills instruction, specifically grammar and sentence structure, to ELL. The present study evaluates the effect of Supplemental Instruction (SI) on improving functional skills in writing.

A review of the literature reveals that community college instructors need to understand and evaluate English as a Second Language (ESL) progress and performance. Accuracy in one’s written language production is important as ESL students develop concrete skills in improving form and function in written language production.

Community college students on three campuses participated in the study. The ESL director constructed a questionnaire to measure student proficiency in specific written language skills and administered it to students to establish baseline data at the beginnng of a specially designed course. The questionnaire was administered a second time at the conclusion of the course to evaluate student proficiency at the end of the semester.

Results of the study indicated that ESL students’ improvement in their functional language skills was mixed. It was difficult to determine if students’ functional language skills improved as a result of targeted instruction with the use of tutors, or other factors. Variables that influenced the results included geographic location, training of teachers and tutors, and initial language proficiency of ESL.
Keywords: functional language skills, ESL, community college, Supplemental Instruction