Advocating for ESL Students By Daniela Rotundo Gonzalez March 11, 2013
Who are these students?What can New Jersey schools and teachers do to educate them?
An English Language Learner is a student for whom English is not his native or first language. English Language Learner, or ELL, is only one term to describe this type of student. Other terms include: CLD, Communicative and Linguistically Diverse learner ELD, English Language Development, which describes both the student and the program; not generally used in New Jersey ESL or English as a Second Language, which describes both the student and the program ESOL, English to Speakers of Other Languages LCD, Linguistically and Culturally Diverse LEP, Limited English Proficient NEP, Non-English Proficient NES, Non-English Speaker PEP, Potentially English Proficient, a term used to more positively describe an LEP student SAE, Student Acquiring English SLL, Second Language Learner
There are more than 276,031 PreK-12 students for whomEnglish is not their first language. Of this group, 61,702 areidentified as Limited English Proficient. There are approximately151 languages spoken by English Language Learners in NewJersey. Of these, the following languages have the highest LEPenrollment: Spanish Korean Portuguese Arabic Gujarati (India) Mandarin Polish Urdu (Pakistan) Creole (Haitian) Tagalog Vietnamese
The ELLs enter New Jerseys schools with a varietyof different ability levels. They may have: never been exposed to English, but have strong first language skills some command of social/oral English language a small amount of English literacy, having just begun studying English in their native country weak first language skills due to interrupted or limited schooling in their native land.ELLs in New Jersey may come from various types offamilies: nuclear two-parent families extended families, including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins single-parent families
What is ELL policy?The term "ELL policy" to refer to policies at the federal, state, andlocal that impact the education of English language learners (ELLs).This includes: Federal ELL regulations State ELL regulations Local policies at the school or district level impacting ELLs The history of U.S. language policy Important national and state court cases Discussion topics and questions from the field Current news and updates Tools for advocacy and engagement
To meet the challenges of teaching and learningon a national and state level, educators andpolicymakers need to create or facilitate thefollowing: A set of mutually agreed-upon standards for English language teaching and professional development. Assessments that accurately measure English language learner progress, strengths and weaknesses, and school accountability. Passage of an immigration bill that encourages all students to achieve academically at all levels. Support for school reform to ensure safe and effective learning environments for all students
On a local and classroom level, educators needto create classrooms that: Foster a vision of immigrant and English language learners as assets to our schools, communities and country. Use a wide variety of teaching methods, including collaborative learning. Base teaching and learning on the needs of individual students. Teach many means of communication, including a strong focus on writing.
Schools need the following to effectively address ELL students: A research-based process for the effective teaching of ELLs Curriculum design and lesson planning based on sound pedagogical principles, practices, and high standards Strategic methods to employ for making grade-level materials and resources comprehensible for ELLs Research-based training on theory, culture, diversity, social status, and policy of language acquisition Training, technical assistance, and/or funding for programs and services for ELL students Advocacy that will increase awareness as to the coalitions that support educators who work with ELLs Resources that will help educators learn more about effective, differentiated teaching strategies specifically addressing ELLs.
How to reach out to parents of ELL students Use their preferred languageThis is an essential place to start. Without a common language, very littlecommunication can take place. Here are some ways to build an ongoing relationshipwith parents by reaching out through their native language. Find a fully bilingual interpreter.Whether a school employee, parent liaison, family member, friend, or communitymember, this person can translate for parent-teacher conferences, back-to-schoolnights, PTA meetings, and regular communication. It is best to find an adult and not relyon the student as the translator, as this practice can disempower the parent.
Translate the written communications that you send home.Find a way to send home personal notes and materials in that language. This willkeep parents in the loop on issues such as report cards, school events, andhomework. Try to offer complete translations in a straightforward preferredlanguage that parents can understand. Learn some words in that language yourself.Even if it is just some common words and greetings, using words in theirlanguage with parents will make them feel welcome. Put parents in touch with bilingual staff.Give parents a list of names and phone numbers of bilingual staff in the schooland district who they can contact to deal with educational concerns. Alsoencourage them to reach out to other parents who are bilingual or monolingual sothey can share experiences and help one another.
Educate parents about the U.S. school systemTo support their childrens education, the parents of your ELL studentsneed to understand how the U.S. school system and culture work.Listen to parents concerns, answer their questions, and provide themwith written materials in their language. Make sure that theyunderstand things like: How your school works-If necessary, review school hours, school holidays, school rules, school trajectory from pre-kindergarten through high school, and the schools administrative hierarchy. Your school curriculum, standards, benchmarks, and materials- Consider that in many Latin American countries, the curriculum is very centralized. There is often one set of books. Uniforms are usually required. And rules tend to be the same for all schools across an entire country
Teacher/school expectations-Explain that teachers hope and expect that parents will help with homework, find tutors, read books, tell stories, take their children to the library, visit the classroom, and become involved in the school. Parent rights-Make certain that your ELL parents know about their rights regarding access to interpreters and translated materials from your school, free lunch programs, your schools ELL curriculum, supplementary school services that may be available to their children, and anything else that parents at your school have a right to know. If your school receives federal funds, provide information on the No Child Left Behind requirements of schools and the rights of parents. Language programs-Work in collaboration with your school social service worker or guidance counselor, and explain the different language program options that your school has, why they work the way they do, and why the chosen program may be most suitable for their children. If parents have doubts, discuss their options and invite them to visit and observe the class.
How to use these resources?Some settings in which these resources may be usefulinclude: Conversations with students, parents, colleagues, and administrators Professional development settings district planning sessions School board meetings Meetings with lawmakers
Tips from Educators http://bcove.me/c0muczlb*In what ways can you advocate for the ELL students in the district in whichyou currently work?*In what ways do can you communicate with ELL parents so that there is opencommunication?
Resources for teachers to use when they have ELL students in mainstream classroom http://www.nj.gov/education/bilingual/ http://www.esl-guide.com/dir/newjersey/index.html http://nationalclearinghouseforenglishlanguageacquisition http://colorincolorado.org http://www.tesol.org http://www.everythingESL.net