Research and History/My philosophy:
I believe that there is an immense joy and advantages to learning a second language. It makes a person well-rounded as well as more marketable in the workforce. Many advertisements for jobs indicate that bilingual applicants are a plus or a bona fide job requirement, especially in the field of teaching.
In the United States, English is the most widely spoken language, with Spanish and Chinese closely following. American schools teach second languages in the primary grades. World language is part of most curriculums in the United States or at least in New York State. Learning a second language in school is wonderful; however, it seems that fluency is not always developed. This is true when native English speaking students are learning a second language. This is due to a lack of immersion. Lack of immersion makes it difficult to acquire a second language as the students return to speaking English as soon as language instruction is over.Order now
In addition, how quickly one learns a second language sometimes depends on the age of an individual when second language acquisition takes place. Typically, languages are easier to acquire when a person is younger. A child can learn many languages as the young brain can attain information more readily, but not so much for someone who is older. Based upon newer research done in the past few years confirm that a human’s ability to learn a second language decreases as they get older. The reasons are that children have extra time and more motivation to learn a second language. Also, children have a brain open to learning language. Adults do not have this advantage as the rules of grammar in their native language are embedded in the brain and difficult to unlearn or adapt. (Schmid, 2016).
There have been many methods ESOL teachers have utilized dating back to the 1940s. Different methodologies have been used over time, each one revealing its pros and cons. One methodology would lend itself to a new and improved methodology. The Audio-Lingual Method (ALM) came into existence in 1942 and was used for about thirty years until the ALM method started to “lose credibility” (Irwin, 2014, p. 17). Other methods came into existence during the 1970s, ranging from the Grammar Translation Approach to Task-Based Learning. After these methods lost popularity, other methods were introduced, namely The Literacy Approach, Suggestopedia and Language Immersion Learning (Irwin, 2014).
My philosophy best fits with Immersion-based learning coupled with the pull-out/push-in methodologies. I believe in these methodologies because used in combination, yield positive results for ELLs. I have become familiar with these methods while student teaching and working as a teaching assistant. I have also known family friends where their native English-speaking child partakes in immersion instruction – more out of the luxury of learning a second language, which in his case is Spanish. I have been told by an adult, who came from Columbia at the age of 11, was taught in a combined immersion and pull-out method. He said he learned to speak English in three years. When conversing with him now, you would never know English is his second language. Immersion instruction is structured where content is taught in a second language during a portion of the school day or school week. In some schools, second language acquisition is weighted, where instruction is taught in an ELL’s native language 60 percent of the time and in English 40 percent of the time. As proficiency is gained, percentages in English/native language adjust accordingly until the ELL does not need language support (Irwin, 2014, p. 20).
Furthermore, I’ve understood with immersion instruction, content and language are taught together. Ideally, two language teachers and an ESOL teacher collaborate on a regular basis. One teacher teaches in English and the other, in the assigned foreign language. The ESOL teacher compliments the program by pulling out students or pushing into the classroom and working with small groups – similar to the way a special education teacher would co-teach. The immersion program can either be split up during one day or alternate days. As an ELL student becomes more fluent in English, the ESOL teacher would work less and less with the ELL student. Eventually, the ELL student would be proficient enough to function in the co-taught program without ESOL support (Irwin, 2014).
The pull-out method is beneficial to an ELLs’ learning environment as the student teacher-ratio is smaller and ELLs can receive one-to-one and/or small group instruction. The small class also lends itself to a safe learning environment where ELLs may feel less inhibited and ask questions they may not ask otherwise (Wynne, 2017).
The Immersion model is a newer instructional model used in recent times to “fill in the gaps” of previously used models, like the Audio-Lingual Method (ALM) introduced in the 1940s (Irwin, 2014, p. 20). Furthermore, the Immersion model is the only technique that I have been exposed to and from my experience, believe is successful. With immersion instruction, ELLs in essence have no other choice but to “strive in English” (Irwin, 2014, p. 20). This scenario and repetition leads to ELLs having no other choice but to gain English proficiency, which is the desired outcome. However, the Immersion model is criticized because some see it for the gains in fluency but not accuracy. Also, ELL students revert to speaking their native tongue as soon as they leave school, leaving some to believe that Immersion instruction is not comprehensive (Irwin, 2014).
The aftermath of the Bay of Pigs failed invasion by the United States in the early 1960s affected the history of education in the United States. Cuban exiles, trying to overthrow Communist rule under Fidel Castro, had no choice but to escape Cuba (CIA, 2016). The Cuban exiles entered the United States and into Florida. Dade County Public Schools in Florida had an influx of Cuban children, whose native language was Spanish. This part of history is influential in the birth of bilingual education and TESOL legislation. In 1968, Congress passed the Bilingual Education Act, currently known as the Title VII Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). The purpose of this legislation was to provide funding to schools that had a large percentage of non-English speaking children. The funding enabled districts to provide programs for students who had Limited English Proficiency (LEP) so that they could better access the free education they were entitled to (Praxis, 2017).
More legislation was born in 1974 in the case of Lau vs. Nichols. Groups of Chinese-American students attending San Francisco Unified School District accused the District of not providing equal access to an education because they could not understand English. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the students in a unanimous decision based on the “Civil Rights Act of 1964”, which prohibits discrimination pertaining to “race, color or national origin” (40th Anniversary Lau v Nichols).
No Child Left Behind legislation (NCLB), the cornerstone of President George W. Bush’s administration, focused heavily of the “academic performance” of ELLs than ever before (Hamann, 2013, p 81). In later years, NCLB was replaced with Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) issued under President Barack Obama. The ESSA law directed that “states must have English language proficiency standards” and they “must implement annual assessments of English language proficiency for all ELLs” (Wynne, 2017, p 82).
An ESOL teacher must comply with local, state, and federal guidelines. While these guidelines get funneled through the administration of every school district, adhering to the strict guidelines ultimately falls on the shoulders the ESOL teacher (Praxis, 2017). New York State provides a blueprint or framework for English Language Learner/Multi-Language Learner (ELL/MLL) success and must be used in tandem with Next Generation Learning Standards. The design of every ESOL program is predicated on these guidelines and standards. The New York State ELL/MLL framework consists of eight guiding principles. The principles range from Principle 1: that every teacher consider themselves a language teacher through Principle 8: that schools and districts use the proper diagnostic tools and assessments to gauge content knowledge of ELLs/MLLs (NYSED, Blueprint for ELL/MLL success).
Research done over a fourteen-year time span revealed that school districts who followed specific guidelines for design and teaching – guidelines similar to those built in to the NYS Blueprint/Framework, yielded the best overall results for ELL/MLLs (Praxis, 2017).
Partnerships and Advocacy
The role of an ESOL teacher is all encompassing. She/he is usually the first point of contact for ELL families and has a long standing relationship with these families. An ESOL teacher must ensure that language and content are taught simultaneously, which results in independence and academic success. An ESOL teacher acts as a conduit between ELL families and school administration reporting pertinent pieces of information for each student. Other roles of an ESOL teacher include acting as an advocate and link to the community, planning and collaborating with other teachers and involving ELL families in their feedback and decision making (Praxis, 2017).
My idea as serving to advocate for a student and his/her family includes, being a “go to” person for questions that they may have about the school, district and community. I would recommend community resources, like the local library, recreation department or YMCA that may offer programs for ELL learners and help ELL families with the transition of moving to a new community. I could also find a translator, if needed, to clarify language that is not understandable for them.
An ESOL teacher should act as a professional resource for his/her colleagues. Through professional organizations, like TESOL International Association, an ESOL teacher can offer advice and direction on the latest news, products, services, books, planning materials and upcoming professional development events for all teachers. For the community, an ESOL teacher could offer free services such as tutoring at the local library and/or being a contact for those ELL families who need translators.
My understanding is that most, if not all academic resources, like books, are available in many different languages. An ESOL teacher should have a system in place where he/she can access academic resources in any language as deemed necessary. There is also an plethora of online programs geared towards educating ELLs. Collaboration with Special Educators is essential when teaching ELLs with special needs. Individual Education Plans, goals and accommodations must be addressed while assistance from the Special Education Teacher is beneficial and necessary when making accommodations and modifications.
Professional Development and Collaboration
I would be mindful of changes to laws concerning ELLs and bilingual education. I would read relevant newspaper articles and research nationwide best practices in ELL education. I think is necessary to belong to the TESOL International Association where there is a plethora of information about workshops, professional developments courses, and current events in the TESOL realm. My plan would be to talk to local and regional TESOL educators to gain perspective on their practices and collaboration strategies. The useful information I would gain from these conversations, I could pass on to my colleagues.
Planning and collaboration is instrumental in achieving lesson plans that have the correct rigor and focus with content and language. I would coordinate prep times with other teachers for planning lessons. Planning and collaboration could also be done during staff meetings or after school hours. I would ensure that my lessons aligned with New York State Learning Standards and ELL/MLL framework. Combining these efforts would produce the best results in my TESOL career.