The number of students entering public schools who are not fluent, or even proficient, in English is growing. In some districts, nearly half the students go home to households where English is not the primary language.
For the purposes of our education system, the students who need special help developing their English skills are called “English Language Learners.”
Many of these students come from Spanish-speaking households, but through immigration and adoption, public schools are working with students from a vast array of language backgrounds.
The need for specialized bi-lingual programs is growing, as is the need for additional instructional assistants to work one on one with English language learners.
At the same time, budget cuts are taking their toll, and a number of towns are limiting or reducing their bi-lingual programs and laying off their certified and trained bi-lingual teachers.
A reader recently wrote to describe how her elementary school is dealing with students who need to learn English; now that the district laid-off the teachers who had been running the school’s bi-lingual programs.
The new policy is that the district’s foreign language teachers will be taking over the workload previously performed by the ESL teachers.
So the Spanish teachers have been assigned to the Spanish-speaking children.
And as for the growing number of students who are coming from China and other Asian countries?
The French teacher is being assigned…
I appreciate it maximizes Vietnam’s history of French colonialism, but probably doesn’t work as well with those who speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean or any of the other major languages that students are arriving with.
If legislators were required to have state certification, we’d be talking about the need to add a course in American Demographics to their list of requirements for that certification. But luckily for legislators, no certification of skills is needed.
That said, social studies teachers are urged to contact your legislators.