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© 2021 Katherine E. Phillips. This work is freely available courtesy of the author. It may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license. For all other uses, please contact the copyright holder.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Bachelor of Arts


Educational Studies Department


This literature review examines the hidden curriculum of U.S. schools as it pertains to immigrant students learning English as a second language (ESL). The hidden curriculum, as coined by Jean Anyon (1980), refers to the implicit cultural values established in schools, which students must navigate in order to be accepted into the social world. These norms heavily influence the school experiences and trajectories of newcomer immigrants in the United States. Throughout this analysis, I examine how the hidden curriculum functions to strip ESL students of their language, culture, and autonomy, as well as how the hidden curriculum of dominant practices in U.S. schools excludes and is inaccessible to immigrant ESL students.

The hidden curriculum of ESL manifests through the silencing and lack of autonomy of immigrant ESL students. In particular, these are demonstrated in classroom content, expectations of students, unstated requirements surrounding parental involvement, and homework embedded with cultural norms and inaccessible language. These hidden curricula create incompatibilities between home culture and that of the American school system that are particularly exigent to surmount. This has a multitude of implications in identity formation of immigrant ESL students.


Hidden Curriculum, Immigrants, Identity Formation, Infantilization

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