First Advisor

Marjorie Terdal

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Teaching English as a Second Language


Russians -- Cultural assimilation -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, High school students -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area -- Attitudes, Religious refugees -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, English language -- Study and teaching (Secondary) -- Russian speakers



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, vii, 113 p.)


Soviet Evangelical high school students have experienced a slow and difficult transition to the American classroom. The students were often negatively characterized by their ESL teachers and other school personnel as "difficult" due to their classroom behaviors. Many times, these behaviors did not meet the ESL teacher's expectations, resulting in a culture clash between the teacher and the Soviet Evangelical students. The study found that Soviet Evangelical high school students came to the United States with high expectations of a new life, but little knowledge of the U.S. or the American classroom. Feelings of loneliness, homesickness and frustration quickly set in upon encountering the new language, new school routines and rules and regulations, some of which made no sense to the students. The educational and cultural values that form the Soviet Evangelical students' orientation toward learning and the classroom were found to play a strong role in the transition process and also helped to account for the behaviors ESL educators found so difficult to deal with. These factors. combined with the students' strong in-group identity as Soviet Evangelicals. all contributed to their slow and difficult transition to the American classroom. The study concludes with recommendations for ESL educators and other school personnel focusing on easing the transition for Soviet Evangelical students. Teaching new students the skills and background knowledge necessary for interacting in an American classroom is stressed, along with using the students' church as a resource in order to foster a trusting relationship with both students and their parents.


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