Teaching Students that do not Speak English as a First LanguageMadison Dolecki, Emily Atwood, Hadley Colman, Briann Bergin, Jillian Feeney


I. Description of Problem or Issue

In today's society, it is evident that schools are facing struggles in how to meet the needs of students that are bilingual or do not speak English as a first language. With a variety of backgrounds, origins, races, socioeconomic statuses, it is difficult to create one program or set of requirements that is universal for all students. Factors such as location of the school, political issues, social setting/'norms', cultural aspects and the educational philosophies used are combined to create programs which aid students that are bilingual or speak English as a second language. Being an English Language Learner (ELL) can be a difficult task, especially when combined with all other problems that arise for students during their elementary school years.

II. Research Summary

Hadley's researched showed:

Bilingual/multi-language education in schools is a type of instruction that has gained momentum and popularity in recent years. With a significant amount of the United States population speaking one or more languages in addition to English, the way students are taught in schools has been modified. These modifications have been made in order to better accommodate students that know little or no English in their early years of schooling. Although there is a debate about what type of approach works best for bilingual/multi-language students, bilingual and dual language instruction has helped English Language Learners (ELL) inside and outside the classroom. In order for bilingual/multi-language students to be most successful, parents/guardians and teachers need to communicate in regards to the needs of the child and the outside factors possibly affecting the child’s academic, social, and developmental success.

Briann's research showed:
There are many different policies that are in place in regards to English language learners. Before the policies were in place however, there have been multiple court cases arguing for English Language Learners. Such as Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown V. Board of Education. There are still struggles with the government impacting the education system in many ways. One of the most notable being No Child Left Behind. Although these policies, such as No Child Left Behind, were put in place to help the English Language Learners, it is found it also creates a struggle for teachers with these students. Some of the issues relating back to the common core. ELL students are required to take the regular classes, but do not speak proficiently in the English language. This results in a huge difficulty for both the students and the teachers. Overall the researched showed, what our cases and policies were created to help benefit the ELL students, and what struggles these policies inflicted by the government, put on the teachers.

Madison's research showed:

Each state and school has varying ideas on what programs should be funded for bilingual students and within these programs, what educational philosophy should be followed. Although it seems that one set of programs should be put into place, individual students vary in what aid they need. Some students would benefit from working with a translator, while others may be helped through dual language programs. Despite there being English immersion programs and dual language programs, research proves the benefits of bilingual programs far outweigh those that only teach students in English. The philosophies of positivism, progressivism, existentialism and others work hand in hand with one another to create the best possible programs for ELL students. Students must have clear instructions and a desire to explore culturally through different languages in order to excel in these programs. Overall, it is a mixture of a well-rounded program as well as the incorporation of educational philosophies that creates a situation in which an ELL student can grow and learn two languages.

Emily's research showed:

There are multiple factors that come into play when trying to help ELL/ESL student develop socially in a school setting. Many schools try to include programs where English as a second language students can work with their peers to work on speaking and understanding English. Schools also often have teachers or other school officials that step in to help out with ELL/ESL students. Schools however, can be limited as to what state and federal laws allow them to do for ELL/ESL students. Some programs have been proven to be better than others, therefore, more successful at helping the students develop socially. Other people that can get involved are the ELL/ESL students parents. Often times, schools encourage parents speak up about the needs of their child. The schools will do what they can in order to make accommodations for the student to ensure that they are successful. Meeting the needs of each student is very important for each of them to develop socially. Through hard work and dedicated teachers/peers/and parents, ELL/ESL students will be able to catch up to their English as a first language fellow students.

Jillian's research showed:

Based on what state a ELL student attends school in, their learning experience will be different. The No Child Left Behind policy withdrew federal preference for bilingual education over english- only instruction. This policy also left decisions regarding ELL student's education up to the state. For example, Arizona state policy calls for ELL students policy calls for ELL students to receive four hours a day of intensive english instruction. In Massachusetts and Texas, policies have been passed to have transitional bilingual education in schools. The funding for ELL programs are left up to the state and therefore, programs vary based on geographical location. Unfortunately, many ELL students live in improvised areas, where schools get less funding for ELL programs. Overall, there is no geographic pattern to ELL programs and patterns. It is all left up to the state where the ELL student lives.
II. Group Product Overview

Each of us will discuss our own research questions on different topics relating to students who speak English as a second language. Once everyone has completed discussing their topics, the activity will be presented to the class. The activity is set up so that the class can see how a student who speaks a different language may feel when expected to complete work in a language other than their first language. The discussion afterwards will involve asking the class how they felt about the process and how it relates to students participating in similar activities in schools.

III. Visual Representation


IV. Research Questions and Reference Summaries

What programs exist/are funded in schools to aid ELL students and what types of educational philosophies are incorporated? - Madison

What social influences are there for ELL/ESL students in schools?- Emily

How does having a bilingual/multi-language education/family affect student learning?