Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What are your top concerns for English Language Learners?

I've gotta say, that my ESL Colleagues in Chatham County are pretty passionate about our work and our students. I crowdsourced them for their top concerns and ideas they believe are keys to student success.

The compilation is below, and out of all the responses, our top 3 areas of focus for solutions are:

  1. teacher training (pre-service), and ongoing meaningful professional development
  2. appropriate, timely, and credible assessments
  3. recognizance that ELLs are intelligent, despite language gaps

What can you add? How can I make this graphic a better representation? What would your top three ideas and areas of focus for solutions be?


  1. "Making sure ELL's continue to develop in their native language." (Love this list, by the way.) An ESL teacher asked about bilingual programs this week said, "Students in those programs tend to use their first language as a crutch."

    A language is not a "crutch." A culture is not a "crutch."

    There are all kinds of reasons to develop writing, reading, speaking and listening abilities in your first language, ranging from employment/education opportunities to general cognitive advantages to being able to learn any language more easily in the future to maintaining cultural connections with grandparents and other family members.

    I'm in an "English only " state with no bilingual programs, and many of our students' proficiency in their first language deteriorates or at least stagnates, especially their writing, even as they become proficient in English. It's a mighty loss.

  2. Thanks, Justin--oh how I wish I could shout that to the heavens: "A language is not a 'crutch'. A culture is not a 'crutch'." You nailed a critical point--the L1 is so important to a strong L2/ L3, etc. Losing one's native language--in any sense-- is indeed a mighty loss. I can't imagine what life is like not being able to communicate on a basic level, let alone in depth, with your own family members. I will definitely add the value of L1 to the graphic!

    Thank you, as always, for your insights, Justin!