America: The Ell of Learning English

Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free… we might even take a few of you who aren’t TEFL teachers. Welcome to TEFL, America style:

Florida: Demographic Changes On Horizon For County Schools

A new report unsurprisingly shows that a major increase in the Southeastern states’ Hispanic population will force schools to focus more attention on Spanish-speaking students and Hernando County is no exception. In Hernando, the population of students enrolled in English Language Learners — or ELL — has grown considerably since 2005, after Hurricanes Frances, Jeanne and Wilma walloped the southern half of the state.

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Arizona: New law puts pressure on ELL programs

Responding to new legislation, the state is preparing to change the way it educates its English learners this fall. As part of those changes, there will be more pressure placed on schools to successfully move English learners to speaking proficient English — and to do it more quickly. Sounds like trouble if you ask me. Schools measure what they call “reclassification rates,” which show the percentage of those students who become proficient in English each year.

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The ELL of learning English
The ‘ell’ of learning English

Tennessee: ELL Enrollment Expected to Increase

Each year, Nashville’s public school system invests $15 million into the English Language Learners program. With a diverse student body that continues to expand that dollar amount may grow in the future. Throw money at the problem, that’s what I say.

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Massachusetts: No Longer Lost in Translation

None of her fellow students teased Maria Smolina, 13, just because she had to sound out simple test words, or because she confused her pronouns. They didn’t think it unusual that she still can’t get used to the taste of peanut butter or macaroni and cheese.

Smolina is one of about 200 students attending the Milford school system’s redesigned program for newcomers to English. Out of its total enrollment of 4,200 students, Milford has the largest number of English language learner, or ELL, pupils of any district in the Blackstone Valley.

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North Carolina: Program Will Put English-Speaking Students in Spanish-Only Class

Bilingual education is making a splash in McDowell County. Superintendent Ira Trollinger has announced the beginning of a new language immersion program for kindergarteners. Starting in July, some kindergarten classes at Eastfield Elementary will be structured around the Splash program. So now you know.

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Maryland: States Seeking Proper Balance in Use of ELL Test Scores

Now that they have new English-language-proficiency tests to comply with the federal ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act, state education officials are trying to come up with guidelines on how school districts use those tests to decide when English-language learners no longer need specialized instruction. Better late than never, it would seem. States vary widely in how prescriptive they are in the use of those test scores, but most seem to be taking steps toward standardizing the process.

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Alabama: Some Families of Students with Limited Proficiency in English Leaving the Hoover School System, As the Number of English Language Learners is Down

After years of growth, enrollment in Hoover City Schools’ program for students with limited English proficiency has dropped for the first time. School officials say it’s an indication that some immigrant families may be moving out of the city in search of jobs or more affordable housing. Either that or they already speak English.

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Pennsylvania: Language Teachers Help Students Learn Skills for Success
At the Shenandoah Valley School District, Eileen Marchetti teaches 62 students English as a Second Language in two rooms that used to be the staff lounge. “The number of students changes from year to year, but it’s growing steadily. We’re at a premium for space here,” she said. The program provides specialized instruction to non-English speaking students in pre-K through 12th grade in reading, writing, speaking and understanding English. Since Marchetti started the program in 2002 with 26 students, the district’s ESL staff has expanded. Two full-time certified ESL assistant teachers now work with Marchetti, who is the program’s full-time coordinator.

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Florida: English on Wheels Program Now Stationary at Immokalee Library

Sitting around three tables, nine women come together to learn English at the Immokalee Public Library. Much like all the women, Lucy Gutierrez and Ana Sierra, both 30 and natives of Mexico, know the importance of understanding and speaking English now that they live in the United States. Today, the Immokalee mothers are attending an English for speakers of another language class so they can communicate with others at local businesses, their children’s doctor and also help their children with homework once they start school.

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