ESOL
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School district has multiple avenues for ESL students

Students whose first language is not English may require another journey when they enroll in Delaware schools, but district leaders say the process helps students and their families acclimate as quickly as possible.
Caroline Staffa's insight:

This article shares one school district's approach to working with ELL students, and I think it is a really effective, sensitive and fair process.  The school district is in Delaware.  I chose to curate this article because with all the different viewpoints of how TESOL should be handled, this is a great example of a school district that has implemented an effective strategy, which I believe other schools could learn from.  When a new student enrolls they fill out a survey so the school will know what language is spoken at home.  If it is a different language from English, the parents have the option to test their child to see if they need specialized ESOL classes.  If they take an assessment on reading, writing, listening and speaking to determine if there any language gaps that will affect their ability to perform on grade level.  If there are, then with parent approval, the student will enroll in ESOL classes.  There are then various levels of English instruction for the student. In order to involve parents, they have the Woodward Family Resource Center where there are interpreters for families and staff.  They have a Language Line service and interpreters can be present at all parent conferences.  The school librarians have bilingual books.  The ESL specialist said, "Every effort is made to help the students and families feel comfortable at their new school," Diemer said. "If students need additional help, they are sometimes referred to the extended learning opportunities offered at the various schools."

 

I am so amazed at their ESOL program.  It seems to incorporate all of the very important aspects discussed by some of the other curated content.  In terms of the importance of parent involvement, they have an excellent strategy set up to communicate with parents regularly, and they even have interpreters as a resource that is readily available.   This system seems like it very accommodating to students because they are not put in any ESOL class unless the assessment proves they need it and their parents approve.  I like the aspect of this program that the family makes the decisions.  This system seems very functional and effective; however, can all school systems afford the same resources they have?  Do all schools have the ability to contact parents and ask for permission to place them in ESOL classes? My coordinating teacher at my field placement said she first worked at an inner city school in Philadelphia where reaching parents was nearly impossible, and a lot of the numbers they provided had been disconnected, or the parents just never called back.  When working in a school district such as that, is this system really plausible?  Again, I chose this article because I think it demonstrates one of the more ideal systems for teaching ELL students, but my reaction was just that it is probably not realistic for all school districts.  In addition, the funding for interpreters of all the different languages found in a school district is probably very expensive.  Also, according to Dylan Garity, his sister is not able to read books in students' native language so it is possible that in some states, the bilingual books in the library would not be possible.  

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What American English sounds like to non-English speakers - YouTube

Prisecolinensinenciousol, a parody by Adriano Celentano for the Italian TV programme Mileluci is sung entirely in gibberish designed to sound like American E...
Caroline Staffa's insight:

This is not one of my main seven curated pieces; however, I thought it was really great to curate for this topic because as English speakers, we should hear what English Language Learners hear every day the classroom.  It is a music video in gibberish designed to sound like American English for people who do not speak it.

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No Child Left Behind and English Language Learners | Colorín Colorado

Teachers who work with English language learners will find ESL/ESOL/ELL/EFL reading/writing skill-building children's books, stories, activities, ideas, strategies to help PreK-3 and 4-8 students learn to read.
Caroline Staffa's insight:

This article indicates what is expected of English Language Learners under the No Child Left Behind Act.  Almost all of these rules link back to some kind of standardized test, and as Jesse Hagapian said in his interview about relieving Seattle of standardized testing, "ELL students should not have to be humiliated by taking a test culturally and linguistically inappropriate for them." (This is curated on my standardized testing page) These guidelines are under the Title III portion of the bill.  Some examples of the expectations set for them are that "ELL students as a group must meet specific annual targets of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Schools, districts, and states will be held accountable for ensuring that they meet these targets" and "All ELLs have to take state academic achievement tests in language arts and math, except that ELL students who have been in the U.S. for less than one year do not have to take the language arts test for that first year. If available from the state, ELL students can take these language arts and math tests in their native languages."  What I think is really interesting is that when I first read these rules, they all seemed fair, flexible and effective.  However, after watching Dylan Garity's performance, I think there is a big difference between what is said in priniple vs. what has actually happened with these regulations being implemented in classrooms.

 

I was really shocked to hear how exclusive the school system is toward ELLs, and now I think they are expected to perform before they are ready.  I feel a little foolish for being naive about the No Child Left Behind program, but when you just read the rules listed here, they sound very accommodating to ELLs to an untrained and unexperienced person.  I think this is why as Garity said, "the winners of a rigged game should not get to write the rules."  For the most part, politicians were not ELL students; they were most likely monolingual American students who do not know what it is like to come in to a school system trying to learn new information in a new language.  It is even a struggle for students who speak English!  After hearing my coordinating teacher in my internship placement complains about how students are not on the level the state wants them to be, I understand better how hard it must be to have children who do not speak English try to take these tests.  Especially with the English speakers struggling with the material, how can people who do not speak the language learn it?  I curated this because I think it is very important to understand exactly what is expected of ELL students.  

After reading the article "The downside of bilingualism," I better understood why these rules are necessary to keeping all students on an equal level of education.  

 

In addition, if you listen to the song, "How English sounds to non-native English speakers," I think it puts things into perspective for teachers with ELL students.  That is what they hear all day, and I think it would be really hard to learn new material when you can't distinguish one word from another.  I think it is an important way to see through ELL students eyes.

 

 

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English Language Learners: Culture, Equity and Language - YouTube

Approximately 5.3 million public school students are English language learners. The National Education Association is leading the profession in preparing edu...
Caroline Staffa's insight:

This video by the National Education Association is about teachers and school personnel who used to be ELL students reflecting on the best ways to include, value and appreciate ELL students in their class.  I chose to curate this video because I think it is important to hear their experiences as students who did not speak English.  Now, as teachers, they can channel what they learned as an ELL student into creating the best environment for their students.  This video shares both student perspectives and teacher perspectives.  One of the teachers, Maricela, shares that she "was usually placed in the back of the room and given crayons...it wasn't fair to me, and I was never asked to share the information I knew.  I felt that I was punished for having a different first language. It almost made my language something not to be desired." This upset me so much because I think students should be so proud to speak another language, and it will help them succeed so much later on, especially in the job market.  It is so strange to me that schools do not promote bilingualism and preserving ELL students' native language.  According to the TIME article on this page, there are so many mental health benefits to being bilingual.  One of the teachers in this video mentioned that one of her students' parents told her they would not teach her Spanish at home, but the teacher said "No, please teach her in Spanish because I want her to make the connections."  I think this is a great strategy so that students do not lose their native language.  Personally, I am monolingual, and I remember being so jealous, all through elementary, middle and high school, of students who spoke another language.  Bilingualism is a trait to be desired and valued so ELL students should know that.  

 

The teachers also talked about their parents support through their education, and they said that their parents couldn't provide much academic support because they did not speak English.  I curated an article about providing English classes for parents in order to help them learn with their students so they can practice together, and the parent can help the student more in school.  I think parent involvement is such a crucial part of helping ELL students succeed so everything possible should be done to get parents involved.  

 

The NEA discusses their training in this video for teachers in working with ELL students.  Maricela, says, "One of the most important parts of this training is to have the awareness of our English Language Learners, not only who they are, but what the need from us as teachers so they are academically successful."  The video also talks about how ELL students enrich a classroom through culture so it is really important to emphasize their backgrounds and appreciating them.  This piece delves into a lot of aspects of ESOL and the best ways to work with our students to appreciate all the diversity, wealth of culture and prior knowledges the offer in a classroom environment.

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Dylan Garity - "Rigged Game" (NPS 2013)

Buy "Rigged Game" and more work from Dylan and other viral poets in VIRAL, an eBook anthology by Button Poetry: http://buttonpoetry.com/product/viral-pre-ord...
Caroline Staffa's insight:

This is an incredibly provoking spoken word performance by Dylan Garity who shares his sister's experiences as an ESL teacher in Boston.  This represents a peaceful protest meant to raise awareness about the unfairness in the school system, especially the impractical results of No Child Left Behind.  One of the first things he says is "They're [the children] good organs in a sick body."  I thought this was really wonderfully said because with all the issues in the education system, I think more often than not the blame comes back to students, or at least they feel it is their fault they can't succeed.  He also says that he bought books for his sister's students in Spanish and English, but she is not allowed to read to them in Spanish.  As this speaker says, "Their heritage is a banned book."  I took an entire class this semester about teaching ELL students, and the best strategy we learned was to take all the material and relate it back to their own language and culture in order to bridge connections.  How is it that the best way to teach them is banned?  This disappoints me because our system expects unrealistic results from students still learning English just as he says, "Learning to read in a new language before you can even read in your own is like learning to walk while a pitbull is chasing you." These students drop out later on because "If you never learn, you fail the test.  If you never learn, you fail the test. You never learn, you drop out."  This speaks to the fact that after one year, ELL students are expected to perform at the same level of performance as students who have spoken English their whole lives.  I did not know much about No Child Left Behind, and I feel as though I have been ignorant.  The name itself sounds so positive that I never would have associated it with policies that are so unfair and ironically, leave so many children behind.  

 

I began to tear up when he said, "I know that I am lucky enough to be one of the winners of this game. I was handed a headstart and a rule book in my own tounge, but the winners of a rigged game should not get to write the rules." In addition, I continued crying a little bit when he said "But since when does being a teacher mean having to swear not to help?"  These parts were so emotional for me because he really evokes a lot of passion when he talks, and technically, I am also one of the winners of this "rigged game."  I want to go into education to help students succeed, and why is it that teachers are not allowed to do everything in their power to help? As much as I love this performance, it left me feeling a little hopeless and discouraged to be a teacher in such an unfair, strict system.  

 

I chose to curate this topic because it is such an honest depiction of what it is like to teach ELL students now in a poetic and powerful manner, and it shows viewers past what politicians might say to what is actually going on in ESL programs.  There are advantages to the No Child Left Behind Act, as curated on this page yet I thought this depicted the strong opposition to its results.  

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Fun To Teach ESL - Teaching English as a Second Language: Idioms

Fun To Teach ESL - Teaching English as a Second Language: Idioms | ESOL | Scoop.it
Hello everyone, I recently was searching through Vimeo and found some great idiom videos to show my high school kids. I wanted to share this one...I think they did a great job. A great lesson would include the students ...
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How the Brain Benefits From Being Bilingual | TIME.com

How the Brain Benefits From Being Bilingual | TIME.com | ESOL | Scoop.it
Never mind how well spoken you might be now, you will never again be as adept with languages as the day you were born. Indeed, the youngest person in any room is almost always the best linguist there too.
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'Teaching is about the mark you make on other people's lives'

'Teaching is about the mark you make on other people's lives' | ESOL | Scoop.it
Saudi-born maths teacher Mohammad Rizvi explains how the legacy of his high school mentor inspired him to help other ESL students succeed
Caroline Staffa's insight:

This article is written by Mohammad Rizvi, and I chose to curate it because I think it shined as great testament to the power of teaching.  He chose to become a teacher because he had such a wonderful ESOL teacher when he moved to the UK from Saudi Arabia, and he did not know English well.  Throughout this story he describes what made Ms. Marquis such an amazing teacher.  He says, "the support she gave me was unbelievable. She pushed me all the way and gave me the right guidance."  When he left school, she wrote him a note that said, "I know you are going to be a success."  He said this note inspired him so much, and he owes everything he has become to teachers like Ms. Marquis.  Because of the support he received from amazing and hardworking teachers, he decided to become a teacher so that he could shape young lives and touch other people's lives.  

 

I chose to curate this story because after reading through all of my content, not just for ESOL, education seems like a really intimidating and problem-filled field that discourages people from wanting to be a teacher.  But, this article reminded why I want to go into education.  He says, "teaching is about the mark you make on other people's lives.  It is the perfect career for someone who wants to give something back or have an impact on another person's life.  I remember as a freshman, my general advisor asked me what I wanted to do after graduation and what I want to study to get me there.  The closest answer I had to either of those questions was "All I'm really sure of is I want to figure out what I'm good at and use it to help people."  Throughout the past four years I found that teaching is the way I want to give back.  Through all of the content that I have about ESOL  and the conflicts with it, I know that I want to be the kind of teacher that does not let a policy or test scores define me or my students.  I want to look up to teachers such as the one in this article and inspire students to be the best that they can be.  As this teacher did, I would like to be so good at helping my students that they realize they want to spend the rest of their lives doing something that helps others.  Teachers and the education system may have a long way to go, but I want to join the fight to make it better.  I think the actions of this ESOL teacher are so inspring, and it is really refreshing to see such a positive influence for ELL students.  The dedication this teacher showed is something that all teachers, especially when facing the challenge of ESOL instruction, should emulate.  

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Walking in My Students’ Shoes An ESL Teacher Brings Theory to Life in Order to Transform Her Classroom

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Strong results seen in dual-language classes - The Island Now

Strong results seen in dual-language classes - The Island Now | ESOL | Scoop.it
Strong results seen in dual-language classes The Island Now Teachers in the new Spanish-English dual-anguage program at the Hampton Street School said their students are making strong progress in the program's first semester during a presentation...
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The impact of parent English as a second language classes on children's school performance and parent-school interactions :: IR - Theses & Dissertations 3

Increasing numbers of English Language Learners (ELLs) in the United States (U.S.) public schools, who perform academically below their English speaking counterparts, make it necessary to examine how to best help these children succeed in school.
Caroline Staffa's insight:

This is a scholarly article that addresses the importance of ESOL classes for parents of ELL students because this will get the parents more involved in the students' education.  It describes the results of a study conducted to specifically measure "1) the extent to which parents feel these ESL classes helped their children in school and 2)how these classes increased parental involvement with school personnel."  The study found that Spanish speaking parents in one school reported both improvement in their children's academic performance and their behavior in and out of school, and increased parental involvement in the school as a result of ESL classes they participated in at the school.  "Parents and teachers expressed that even more classes of this nature would be beneficial," according to the article.  

 

I decided to curate this article because I thought it provided a very important topic when discussing ELL students, which is incoporating parent involvement.  I had not considered parent involvement as one of the major issues of ESOL, but after reading this article, I realized how crucial it is.  The article says, "The parents responded to the ESOL classes by saying they could finally advocate for their students in the classroom."  I think it is so important to also offer ESOL classes to parents so that they can help their students as much as possible,  I was really glad to have found this article because I know that my parents helped me so much throughout school, but if they didn't speak English it would have been very hard for them to help me when they really wanted to.  In my opinion, these classes will also create more regular communication between parents and teachers that will help the student thrive in the classroom.  

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Cepeda: The downside of bilingualism - Statesman Journal

Cepeda: The downside of bilingualism - Statesman Journal | ESOL | Scoop.it
Cepeda: The downside of bilingualism
Statesman Journal
The district has a separate gifted program for Hispanic students learning English as a second language. This is in line ...
Caroline Staffa's insight:

This article really shows the other side to what Dylan Garity discussed in his performance.  It is published by The Statesman Journal, and it provides a perspective to the other side of the spectrum.  Garity focused on how children are being forced to read in English even before there are comfortable reading in their own language.  This article discusses how separate is not equal.  If students are separated by native speakers and non-native speakers, this article says, "separate classrooms for speakers of native languages other than English are egregiously unequal and not fair” I thought this perspective was so interesting because it was almost as though the governments seemed evil for putting these children in English only classrooms.  I curated this article because it sheds light on why the classes are set up to include both ELLs and native English speakers in some states.  This article addresses "the mindset of countless educators who believe, incorrectly, that children who are not native English-speakers need the special accommodation of being immersed in their native language in order to learn."

 

While I do not find it an is ideal setting, this article answered a lot of my questions about why the government would make the decisions they have for ELL students.  I read in this article that "Separate classes, separate teachers and sometimes separate curriculums -- often lower-level than those of the native English-speakers in a given grade -- are common in typical “bilingual” programs."  I felt really bad for the harsh reactions that I had earlier in the insight for Dylan Garity's performance.  It is easy, at least for me, to forget that the government does have reasons for doing things a certain way even when they are not perfect.  Also, this article opened my eyes to the fact that these policies differ so much from state to state.  For example, the article gives an example of a teacher who says, "I was a bilingual teacher in Illinois, a state that requires most Spanish-speakers to get at least partial instruction in their native language," but that is different from the experience in Boston where students cannot receive help in their native language as Dylan Garity expressed.  This article makes a similar point to the TIME article, also on this page, that children will never absorb language better than when they are at their youngest.  The students are put in English classrooms so they do not have to continue to depend on their native language as they go through school; the classes they are put into cater to their abilities in their native tounge.  According to the article,  "they were instead expected to sink or swim in mainstream classes, and almost invariably succeeded."

 

I really like the idea that the classes in their native languages are able to build upon students' strengths and weakness, but I do believe that the opposing side makes very valuable arguments as well because those classes could, and do, fall behind in curriculum so it is not an equal education.  I still agree that Dylan Garrity's concerns are valid, but perhaps there is a way to combine the two ideals to make it as fair as possible for students.  I do not think students should not be expected to "sink or swim" because as Dylan Garity explains, "we are telling these children who have spent their whole lives in the deep end that they will learn to swim if they just swim out a little farther."

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