Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd
The Obama Administration is rolling out new immigration reforms that will help ease the anxiety of the nation’s most long-term immigrants who were brought to the US as children. With more than 40 million foreign-born residents currently living in the United States, the need for English as a Second Language (ESL) programs has never been stronger.
English Language Learners (ELLs) must meet the following qualifications to participate in an ESL program:
- Must be between three and 21 years old
- Must be enrolled in either an elementary or secondary school
- English is not spoken as native language
- Must be born outside of the United States
ESL programs have become important for school-aged children because until they speak English they struggle to keep up with standardized tests and curriculum that correlate to their grade-level. Home Language Surveys are passed out to each student so that schools can access the need for ESL programs within their districts. Assessments are also given to determine a student’s reading, listening, speaking and writing abilities.
Once eligibility has been determined, ESL teachers are given the task of teaching students to understand and speak English. Technology has become an important factor in how quickly students are able to learn the language, with videos, online games and a variety of practice tests all being offered with the click of a button.
Visual cues also help foster language understanding and can be used to show students a correlation between the word and the object. These cues can be used and reinforced throughout the school day which allows for greater retention for the student.
The American school landscape has changed with as many as one in 10 students requiring ESL instruction. ESL instruction has garnered national attention and the need for instructors will only continue to grow in the years ahead.