Thursday, October 29, 2009

Languages Spoken At School

Today we had a couple of representatives from our district's English Language Learner (ELL) office come speak to us for professional development. I teach at a very high income, high performing school that isn't used to having "newcomers", or those with low English abilities, as students, but changes in how our district handles ELL's means we're getting more.

I learned two things of interest. The first is the list of languages spoken at our school. Have you heard of all of them? I hadn't even heard of one of them: Spanish, Indonesian, Korean, Arabic, Rumanian, Russian, Filipino, Turkish, Nepali, Ukrainian, Punjabi, Armenian, Gujarati, Tongan, and Farsi.

There's a language called "Filipino"? I thought the language was Tagalog. And I'd never before heard of Gujarati.

The second interesting point was that the families of some ELL's in our district are under federal protection. When they are identified as such they are automatically enrolled, they do not even have to provide proof of residency in our district borders.

Here's something else that should be patently obvious. The lower the level of the course, the more ELL students will be in that class. The speakers didn't say that, but they did pass out to each teacher a list of that teacher's ELL's. The disparity in the lengths of the lists was striking.


Scott McCall said... at the University of Arizona, it's the opposite in my major (major=computer engineering).

the higher I get in advanced courses for my degree, the more ELL's I have in each course, and less people who actually speak english natively.

Ellen K said...

As an art teacher, I end up with many of the newcomers in ELL. The most striking thing is that some groups are highly motivated to move out of ELL as soon as possible. I had a brother and sister literally off the plane from Vietnam with no spoken and only a little written English ability. In four years they passed TAKs, took SAT's and enrolled in college. Compare that to Hispanic students born here, entered in PreK (it's pretty common knowledge that if you don't have a surname that's Hispanic, don't apply)we still have kids who go through to high school who don't speak enough English to pass TAKS. What does this tell us about ESL, bilingual education and our society? BTW, one of the most difficult things with ELL students is communicating with parents. I can always find a working phone number and email for my Korean, Vietnamese, Pakistani, Laotian and Filipino students, but with my Hispanic students, not so much.

luckeyfrog said...

There are at least two spoken languages in the Philippines. Tagalog is just one of them :)