The United States (U.S.) experienced recent growth in its minority population. This requires an increase of culturally diverse healthcare providers. English as a second language (ESL) students face challenges such as overcoming their inability to write, comprehend, and communicate in a language different from their native tongue. The study explored the role of language proficiency on academic success among bilingual nursing students on the U.S. and Mexico border.

Cummins Language Proficiency Model guided the study, which aimed to answer whether the dimensions of language proficiency or language acculturation predicted self - assessed language proficiency and academic success. The relationship between self - assessed language proficiency and academic success were also explored.

The participants were recruited virtually from nursing schools along the U.S. and Mexico border and completed the Language Experience and Proficiency Questionnaire (LEAP - Q) and the English Language Acculturation Scale (ELAS). Two-open-ended questions were provided for the qualitative inquiry. Parametric statistical analyses were used to answer the quantitative questions and qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis.

Language proficiency dimensions predicted a single measure of self - assessed English proficiency ( p < .001). No correlation was found between language proficiency and academic success. Qualitative data revealed themes such as support, communication, and academic resources for beneficial learning situations. Finances, time management, language barriers, and self - perception were identified as barriers to academic success.

Language proficiency did not predict academic success, but students who utilized both languages were academically successful. Border nursing students felt that bilingualism was a positive characteristic for nursing professionals.

Date of publication

Fall 11-28-2017

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Danita Alfred, Ph.D.; Melinda Hermanns, Ph.D., Danice Greer, Ph.D., Shelley Vardaman, Ph.D.


Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing