English Language Learners’ Transitional Needs from High School to University: An Exploratory Study

  • Hetty Roessingh
  • Scott Douglas


In this study, various measures of educational achievement of English language learners (ELLs) are compared to those of native English speakers (NS) who graduated high school in Calgary and were admitted into first year studies at the University of Calgary (U of C); and the literacy demands of university manifested in the readability levels of first year textbooks are analyzed. Findings suggest ELLs are academically competent, as reflected in the achievement outcomes of provincial high school diploma examinations in mathematics. The vast majority, however, are inadequately prepared for the literacy demands of university and are at immediate academic risk. Suggestions are made for policy, transitional programming, and the provision of services that may support academic achievement at university for this growing profile of learners on campus.


English language learners Cognitive academic language proficiency Transitions Academic achievement 



This study was completed with the support of funds made available from the Prairie Metropolis Centre, 2008. We are grateful for having had the opportunity to complete this work. An earlier version of this work was funded by the Cultural Diversity Institute, University of Calgary. We would also like to thank the reviewers who provided useful feedback and encouragement to make the revisions to our work. We further thank the editorial staff of the Journal of International Migration and Integration for their support in shepherding this manuscript to publication.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EdT 710, Faculty of EducationUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationUniversity of British Columbia OkanaganKelownaCanada

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