Rhode Island School District Sees Increase in Demand for ESL Teachers

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Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd

The Cumberland School District in Cumberland, Rhode Island has seen a substantial increase in the number of students in need of English as a Second Language courses enrolling at its schools. The numbers continue to grow despite the district’s implementation of additional ESL teachers and teacher support for the 2014-2015 school year.

Lou-Ann Broadmeadow has been teaching ESL classes at Joseph L. McCourt Middle School for several years and was recently appointed to the position of ESL Coordinator for the district. With the rise in the number of ESL students and the subsequent increase in demand for ESL classes in Cumberland, Assistant Superintendent Robert Mitchell says that Broadmeadow is “spread really thin.”

According to both Broadmeadow and Mitchell, the Cumberland School District is seeing the most significant increase in demand for ESL classes at the elementary level. The native languages of the students that have enrolled in ESL classes in Cumberland is extremely varied and includes Creole, Spanish, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Polish, German, Hindi, Arabic, Italian, and Chinese, just to name a few.

Last year, Mitchell says, there were 100 ESL students during the entire course of the school year, which was the district’s threshold based on the number of teachers available to accommodate them. This year, however, there are already 130 ESL students with more expected to enroll for the second semester of the school year.

As a result of the wide range of languages, Cumberland School District has had to boost its efforts to bring in more qualified ESL teachers in order to meet the required number of hours of language intervention for each student in accordance with the regulations established by the Rhode Island Department of Education. The way Mitchell says the district is attempting to solve this issue is by finding teachers who have certifications in both teaching as well as in ESL.