Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd
Across the country, ESL classes have begun to fill up with immigrant children and adults who are eager to learn the language and incorporate themselves into the American culture. In Cleveland, Ohio, one school system has chosen to make certain changes to its ESL program in an effort to meet the rapidly growing demand that it is experiencing.
According to administrators with Cleveland City Schools, the district has more than 100 addition ESL students than it did last year and that year saw an increase from the year before as well. They say that up until this year, their ESL program was not very well structured.
Now, however, they are looking to take “a more structured approach” by implementing a supervisory role for the program, something they have not had to this point. Mayfield Elementary School is one of the most prominent schools in the district and has an extraordinarily high concentration of English language learners with the vast majority of them – just over 87 percent – speaking Spanish as their native language. However, the native languages of the remaining 13 percent span a wide spectrum and include Russian, Portugese, Hindi, Ukranian, and Gujarati.
With such an expansive representation of languages, Cleveland City Schools is looking to hire more ESL teachers in the near future and is also looking for people with ESL teaching experience who may want to take on the role of a coordinator or overseer who can address the issues that could potentially arise from having so many different native languages being spoken.
The ultimate goal is to establish an oversight infrastructure in the district’s ESL program that will allow ESL teachers and administrators to “really connect with these families and serve them better” by providing a quality program that teaches them the language skills that will help them succeed in the United States.