Service-Learning: An Innovative Approach for Second Language Learners

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Research on service-learning programs has detailed the benefits of service-learning for White, English-only, college preparatory students. However, rarely has research focused on the impacts of service-learning on Hispanic, second language learners. In part, this is due to the low participation rate of these students in service-learning programs. As of 1997, only 10% of Hispanic children nationwide participated in service-learning programs, and the effects of service-learning on second language learners has not been effectively researched. This article presents the findings of a year-long evaluation of service-learning programs in the state of Colorado; an evaluation that focused on Hispanic second language learners. The authors found that the Colorado second language learners who were involved in service-learning programs tended to increase their participation in class and earn better grades; they became more excited about and involved in school; and they also experienced increased self-confidence—all as a result of participation in service-learning programs.

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