Educators who teach science, technical subjects, social studies, history and math, etc. but who are not trained in English as a Second Language (ESL) are not sufficiently equipped to address English learners’ (ELs) academic needs, says a 2014 publication series in R&D Connections about assisting mainstream teachers for linguistically-diverse classrooms.
Many teachers have had few opportunities for professional development in teaching English learners, states R&D. In fact, though about forty percent of educators say they’re teaching EL students, less than eight percent have eight or more hours of EL-oriented pedagogical training, says the publication. This lack of training is felt most strongly by content teachers in classrooms with large numbers of English learners.
Many mainstream teachers feel the reason behind the lack of training is because English learners have traditionally been viewed as being the responsibility of ESL teachers, states R&D. However, with the increasing number of English learners over the years in mainstream classrooms, it has now become impossible to ignore the role that content teachers play in the process. It has now become clear that all teachers must be held responsible for the effective instruction of ELs.
The 2011 article “Effective Instruction for English Learners” from The Future of Children journal also piggybacks on this same idea when it says that schools must begin to improve the skills of all educators through comprehensive professional development. It recognizes, though, the ambitious undertaking and appropriate funding that this will require. Some of the areas that need addressing, according to the authors, are comprehensive reform models and their individual components such as language and literacy instruction; cooperative learning; professional development; parent and family support teams; tutoring; monitoring implementation and outcomes; integration of language, literacy, and content instruction in secondary schools; and school structures and leadership.
Home environments and native languages need to also be taken into consideration as valuable resources, says the 2008 Policy Research Brief produced by the National Council of Teachers of English. In other words, it’s important that English learners’ family cultures and native languages been seen as high-value versus areas that need to be overcome or cast aside.
In assisting mainstream teachers for linguistically-diverse classrooms, The Latino Family Literacy Project, a White House BRIGHT SPOT winner, offers staff development and training workshops for English learners in the area of parent involvement. The way that it works is that teachers are first trained in the organization’s various programs through a half-day workshop or an online webinar. After which, they then provide a series of workshops on the school site in helping parents to establish a family reading routine which helps greatly in improving the overall language development, literacy and vocabulary of English learners. For more information, please contact The Latino Family Literacy Project.
The Latino Family Literacy Project is a program of Lectura Books, a national educational publisher specializing in parent involvement and English Learners.