Beyond Words & Grammar: Learning English as a Second Language

I came across this article last night in the Wichita Eagle. It’s about the need for more English as a second language (ESL) teachers in the U.S. The article points out a need both for teachers and for methods in teaching ESL. Challenges to teaching many of these children is their previous level of education, focus on both academic courses that they need and language skills. A focus on only English language skills won’t necessarily help them handle topics such as social studies for example. Older children especially need particular language skills for each of these topics. In this particular district mention is made that topics such as science and history are moving into the ESL curriculum. This is so that children can keep up with the content of curriculum they need to know and to learn the particular language terms for that curriculum.

Another recent news story illustrates that exposure to both ESL, rigorous academics, and a supportive environment can lead to success. It doesn’t hurt either that the young man in the story is really smart. But, I do worry that there are other smart kids in schools who are overlooked or not encouraged simply because they don’t speak English or don’t speak it well.

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