According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2014, almost 10 percent of all public school students were participating in English Language Learner (ELL) programs. The number of ELL students enrolled in Louisiana public schools was 17,473, an increase of almost 20 percent from the previous year.
As the immigrant population from all over the world grows, the need for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers increases every year in every state.
Why Are ESL Classrooms Important?
Education writer Corey Mitchell reported that by 2016, the number of emerging bilingual children had risen by 1,200,000 in a single decade. Approximately 22 percent of children, ages five through 17, do not speak English at home.
In a study by the Center for American Progress, Jennifer F. Samson and Brian A. Collins, both accomplished educators at the university level, report that schools must accurately identify the language proficiency of all ELLs. These students must also be monitored on a regular basis. According to Samson and Collins, "Under federal law, ELLs must be provided appropriate English language development support services and be assessed annually until they meet a state's criteria for proficiency in English on specific language tests in order to no longer be considered an English language learner."
Schools everywhere need adequately prepared teachers to support these children as they gain English language skills and fluency sufficient to meet the rigorous demands of American public schools.
What Makes a Teacher Well-Equipped to Teach ESL?
Although the best practices for teaching and assessment are universal in nature, preparation for a position in an ESL classroom must include special training. In particular, teachers should be well-versed in these three issues:
- The development of oral language: As teachers build a bridge between English and the students' first language, they must understand the components of speech and language, including grammar, vocabulary, communication and the social conventions of each language.
- The importance of academic language development: Conversational and academic language are substantially different from each other. ELLs require additional support as they learn to navigate between what they learn on the playground and what they need to know to succeed academically.
- The effect of language on cultural diversity: Communication is more than spoken language. Strong ESL teachers help their students recognize how eye contact, vocal volume, and participation in class or group work will be understood by others. These teachers understand the cultural differences and appreciate how difficult it is for young children to make adjustments depending on where they are — at home, at play or in the classroom.
Do All Teachers Need to Be Prepared to Teach ESL?
Yes, according to Samson and Collins. "The reality is that most, if not all teachers have or can expect to have ELL students in their classroom and therefore must be prepared to best support these children." Even after bilingual students have met the formal criteria for exiting ELL programs, they need academic support to meet grade-level standards, as reflected in graduation rates nationwide.
A 2017 NPR project titled 5 Million Voices reported that "Only 63 percent of ELLs graduate from high school, compared with the overall national rate of 82 percent."
In Louisiana, the graduation rate for ELLs is substantially less. Only 74.6 percent of all students graduated from high school. Only 50 percent of ELL students graduated, making Louisiana ninth lowest in the nation.
Earning a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction: English as a Second Language from LSU Shreveport will prepare you to make a difference in the lives of bilingual students ready to succeed academically. As the world population becomes more and more mobile, ESL teachers will continue to be in demand in Louisiana, the United States and abroad.
Learn more about the LSUS online M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction: ESL program.
Sources:Center for American Progress: Preparing All Teachers to Meet the Needs of English Language Learners
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