Teaching English to speakers of other languages is probably the most complex of all teaching jobs. In order to effectively teach students to read, write, speak and understand English, an effective ESL program should incorporate several aspects. The following is a list of recommendations for schools set forth by the New York State Department of Education for highly effective ESL programs. Any school district with English Language Learners, whether in New York State or elsewhere, should adhere to these valuable guidelines to more effectively educate this often overlooked, but significant student population.
High standards for ELL students
English language learners, or ELL’s, should be held to the same standards as all students. Though the workload is much more difficult for those learning English as well as other core subjects, ESL students should be expected to come out of the school system armed with the same knowledge and tools as everyone else.
Strong Literacy Development
Learning a second language is much easier when a student has strong skills in his or her own native language. Any effective ESL program should try to incorporate some native language skills into their curriculum.
Qualified and Well Trained Teachers
With the number of ESL students so high across the state, it’s important to have teachers who are well qualified to take on the challenging task of teaching English to speakers of other languages.
School Administration Dedicated to the Education of ELL’s
It’s very difficult to teach English as a Second Language effectively unless the administration totally committed to the task. Administrators at all levels should be supportive of the ELL’s, the ESL instructional staff, and the program itself.
Positive School Climate
The various languages and cultures represented within the ELL’s in the school should be respected and valued throughout the school community. Parents should be made to feel that they are important members of the school community. ESL instructional staff are treated as a vital part of the school staff and are provided with the support, materials and resources they need to be successful.
Family Involvement in the Education of ELL’s
As with any student, what happens in the home is an integral factor to a child’s success. Families of ELL’s are no different than any other family and should always be involved in the success of their child’s education. It is of the utmost importance for the school to maintain regularized communication with parents and families of ELL’s and involve the families in order to maximize the education and general welfare of the students.
Assessment and Accountability
The performance of ELL’s is continually, both formally and informally, assessed at all levels using fair and equitable measures. Assessment is conducted in both English and the native language, whenever possible, and the information provided from that evaluation is used to further refine instruction so as to better serve the students.
All of the variables listed within are based upon guidelines of CR Pt. 154 of the New York State Education Department and are essential to ensuring the success of ELL’s everywhere.
New York State Education Department: Bilingual Education and Foreign Language Studies