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    By Julianne

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    I'm currently taking classes towards an ESL endorsement. All new hires in our district will need this endorsement as of this year. What I'm learning in class in interesting and frustrating at the same time. What they're telling us is that the average student needs between 5 and 7 years of exposure to English to become proficient in it at the academic level. They may be able to converse efficiently after a few months, but they won't be able to comprehend academic work at grade level for some years to come. So what do you do with a 5th grader who doesn't speak English?

    What they're telling us to do is to make your classroom and your practices as helpful to the student as possible. Of course, you will adapt your instruction differently depending upon how many ESL vs. English proficient students are in your group. This year I have 19 students and about half are still learning English. Last year I had only about 4 who were struggling. SO this year we're doing lots and lots of visual stuff. We're making sure to partner anyone who has a grasp of English with someone less proficient. We're labeling EVERYTHING in our room. We've ferreted out several adults who have at least a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish to translate for us when necessary. We even have a Russian speaking aide to translate for our Russian speaking student and someone who speaks Nepalese. These people were NOT easy to find. But it helps a lot to have them. Try your district office for that kind of assistance. And don't give up. This kind of teaching can be very rewarding. I agree with the other poster that "the test" shouldn't be your biggest concern right now. Talk to your administrator and see what kind of accommodations can be made for English Language Learners. Then let it be and see what happens in the spring. You can only do what you can do....

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