1 million today, Smith explains. About 79% of ESL students have Spanish as their native language, and hence, Smith insists, "there is an urgent need for as many teachers as possible to be skilled in and passionate about working with ESL students" (Smith, 2008, p. 5).
The mentor (an ESL specialist) needs to apply "professional knowledge to actual practice" when working with another teacher, Smith explains. There are two components to Smith's mentoring suggestions: a) the ESL specialist shares his or her "best of ideas"; and b) but by mentoring, the ESL specialist is "supporting the professional and personal growth of the teacher" (Smith, 6). Smith breaks down her mentoring program ideas into six conversations, or specific aspects, of how to relate to ESL students. This mentoring is for new teachers, who need to be submerged in diversity and inclusion quickly, and for existing teachers, that have perhaps avoided becoming up to speed on ESL dynamics.
The first "conversation" relates to what the ESL student has to endure; Smith asks the mentee to recall a trip to Mexico and asks, "Did everyone in Mexico speak so fast you only caught one in ten words?" Smith is driving home the point that foreign languages (for the ESL student, English is a foreign language) are not easy to conquer.
The second "conversation" deals with putting the ESL student "at ease"; in other words, welcoming the student to ease the student's apprehension (Smith, 6). Smith as mentor asks her mentee to "learn all she can about the system of education in the countries of origin of her ESL students" (Smith, 7). The third "conversation" embraces the problems that can occur when mainstream teachers aren't what to do when an ESL student has been brought into the classroom. She suggests the teacher in question adopt an "English for Academic Purposes" approach, helping prepare the ESL student "where specialized English help is neither available nor needed" (Smith, 7).
Also, Smith as mentor suggests the teacher give "mini-lessons" to help the student "understand the content" and later work on the language aspect of it. Once interested in the content, the ESL student will likely be more willing to dig into the new language issues.
Smith's fourth message for use in mentoring concerns the precise nature of what aspect of English to teach. "Grammar? Pronunciation? Vocabulary? Reading and Writing?" Or perhaps communication skills should be emphasized? Smith's answer to that is quite simple: since language is sequential, ask the student to learn to develop a sense of "What comes next" and let that serve as "the underpinning of any language lesson" (8).
Smith's fifth component is about the "nature of language learning. How is the new ESL student… supposed to learn 'what comes next' in English?" (8). Instead of handing out grammar worksheets, the mentee teacher should have students talk about the language they use; like, "…why is that 'his' jacket and not 'her' jacket?" Also, Smith urges her mentees to have ESL students "…observe language, spoken language, recorded, or written language"; they can internalize it, making it belong to them, and then "trying it out in a communicative setting" (8). Finally, the sixth part of Smith's program asks the mentee teacher to let some of the errors the ESL student is bound to make slide by. Focus on the ideas and the message, and don't be picky about the absolute correctness, Smith advises. It amounts to a concentration on what the ESL student "can do" not what he or she cannot do yet (Smith, 9).
Co-Teaching in the ESL classroom
The authors of this article suggest five ways to strategize a co-teaching model -- arguing that creative collaboration can become "…an effective support for inclusive practices." (Honigsfeld, et al., 2007, p. 8). The co-teaching approach can: a) accommodate the needs of diverse English Language learners"; b) to offer support to "all students" as they strive to meet local, state and national standards; and c) to establish a "vehicle for creative collaboration between" ESL teachers and mainstream teachers, Honigsfeld explains. And so what the authors suggest is to have one mainstream teacher and one ESL specialized teacher form a partnership that will benefit the ESL students and both teachers involved in the co-teaching strategy.
The first of the five models has one lead teacher and one teacher "teaching on purpose"; the mainstream teacher and the ESL teacher "take turns assuming the lead role" (Honigsfeld, 9). The second model has two teachers teaching the same content. Students in this class are placed in "two heterogeneous groups"; each teacher works with one of the groups. The idea is that smaller groups have "additional opportunities to interact with each other" (9). The third model has one teacher "re-teaching" and a second teacher "teaching alternative information"; again, this model features two groups, only these are temporary. "As the topic and skills that are addressed change, so does group composition"; as learning takes place for the ESL students, they move into the group with higher English abilities (9).
The fourth model has "multiple groups"; two teachers monitor several groups of learners, allowing each the time to work on specific, designated skills or topics within a small group. They can be called "learning centers" or "learning stations" and teachers target "unique needs" ESL students have as the learning curve bends upward. The fifth model by Honigsfeld has two teachers directing one "whole class of students"; the teachers work cooperatively and teach "the same lesson at the same time" (9). Typically, the mainstream teacher puts forth a lesson, and the ESL teacher "interjects with examples, explanations, and extensions of the key ideas" (Honigsfeld, 9).
Using Music to Support the Literacy Development of English Language Learners
Their are many creative ideas for helping ESL students to learn English, and in this article music is added to that list. The article describes the benefits of incorporating musical experiences; indeed music can "transform classrooms into positive learning environments where children thrive academically, socially, and emotionally" (Paquette, et al., 2008, p. 227). The authors offer several ideas for other ESL teachers to pick up on. For one, songs sung by the class (led by the teacher, even if he or she isn't musically gifted) can be used to teach "…sentence patterns, vocabulary, pronunciation, rhythm, and parts of speech" (228). Songs used by the authors for pronunciation include "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (practice on the / l / sound) and "Row, Row, Row, Your Boat" (practice on the / r / sound).
Teaching children about rhyme is important for language development, Paquette explains, and a good song for that purpose is "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" ("are" and "star" rhyme). In this article the authors give specific direction to ESL teachers, offering helpful lesson plans to use when teaching literature through songs; John Denver's song, "Sunshine on My Shoulders" is a sweet tune about "sunshine, emotions, and friendships" (Paquette, 230). And a simpler song, "Skip to My Lou" encourages children to sing and to dance around the room.
Rural Challenges to Educating ESL Students with Visual Impairments
It's one thing for a teacher to work with an ESL student, it's another to work with an ESL student with a visual impairment. In this article the authors report on a survey of ESL teachers; in that survey, the general agreement is that "an appropriate service delivery" for ESL students with serious vision problems would be a teacher licensed to teach both ESL and visually challenged students -- albeit finding that particular teacher may be problematic (Conroy, 2006, 16), especially for a rural area. Given that there is a nationwide teacher shortage in ESL and special education, finding the appropriate person to step in to a country school with the skills mentioned above is challenging. The authors conducted a survey of 68 ESL teachers who also are licensed to work with the blind, who qualified for this assignment, to see what their experiences have been with ESL students. One teacher said it was "a waste of time" trying to deliver services to a student like that in a regular classroom; another said it was not "an efficient use of time" to place these students in a mainstream classroom (Conroy, 19). Some high school and middle school teachers responded by saying "students did not appreciate having the ESL teacher as part of the regular classroom for social reasons" (Conroy, 19). Moreover, the majority of teachers surveyed said they "did hot receive the support they felt was necessary from administrators" (Conroy, 20).
Remarks by Education Secretary Arne Duncan
In a speech given March 15, 2011, Secretary Duncan made several important points about inclusion. "As a country, we are doing a much better job of serving students with disabilities," he said. For too long, he went on, "…the answer to educating students with disabilities was to isolate them and to deny them the same educational experiences that others were having" (Duncan, 2011). Saying "those days are over," the secretary pointed to statistics: "60%…