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Should we taxpayers fund English as a Second Language classes?[long]

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Okay, here's another topic that is starting to affect many more states than California - Should our public schools be required to provide English as a Second Language[ESL] programs (most of these will service the Mexican children)? If you are not familiar with the program, it provides Spanish speaking children a Spanish speaking educational staff and cirriculum in Spanish, and then there are extra classes for them to learn English. At least, that's the way the programs work now. Now, I realize that some adjustment procedures to assimilate these children into our society are necessary, but here's why I don't think that the new way of doing things is working -
1. The majority of these children retain their accent & don't seem to learn either English or Spanish grammar/reading/writing skills very well. [[Of all the people I know who learned the old-fashioned way, with the Spanish speaking kids mainstreamed during the bulk part of the day, with extra English classes after school, they retained their ability to read/write/speak Spanish very well (in fact, they received better Spanish grammar lessons here in the U.S. than they would have in Mexico) and speak/read/write English superbly.!!!]]
2. By isolating the Spanish speaking kids into their own ESL courses, they tend to remain in their own group rather than try to assimilate into our culture.
3. The ESL generations too frequently grow up speaking good English, but not reading/writing it very well at all.
4. The ESL program is expensive, and cuts needed funding for other areas, including P.E., assistance to Special Needs children, etc.
5. I think that there needs to be more follow-up on the kids who went thru school the old-fashioned way (I know I'm way too politcally-incorrect on this) and see how those people fare now, & compare their language/grammar skills to those adults who did the ESL track.
Reminder: Please keep those claws retracted, but hisses & fizzed-fur are o.k. with me:!!! Thanks for your input, pro & con! .........FYI, I'm Chicana,Native American.....
post #2 of 25
I think ESL should be provided for, especially if these children are in families seeking citizenship.
That said, I went to a Catholic school, lots of Mexican immigrants sent their children there.
We had a peer tutoring program to teach these kids the basics of speaking English.
Once you can speak it enough to understand, it becomes far easier to learn the language in it's entirity. These kids would then go and teach their family the basics of speaking English.
The peer tutoring program worked wonderfully, and most of these parents, along with their children, also took ESL courses at community centers (most of which have these courses and are indeed publicly funded).
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
I don't object to peer-tutoring at all, that is how it used to be done, but in my personal experience, ESL isn't as effective. For instance, in the generation above mine, my mom & her siblings have excellent English & excellent Spanish skills, in fact, I have an aunt & an uncle who are state-certified to interpret for the courts, and my aunt is also federally certified; in my generation, 2 close friends are interpreters for the schools/ social services, and again, have no accents, are very profiecient both languages. Then comes my kids' generation - and these young adults, as I mentioned, have gotten great grades, but in the workplace, lack English skills as far as writing, reading & understanding the language. Working in restaurants, my co-workers took English courses, but the cirriculum is in English/Spanish & people wanting to learn conversational Spanish are blended in and they seem to learn faster, better that way. Our ESL courses are in Spanish, and my husband has a very high number of public defense clients who are Spanish-speaking, and even though their kids, who they often bring to interpret for them, not trusting our interpreters, were born here, and have attended school with my grandson & my friends' kids, they are just not that proficient in English, in fact, not much better than the kids from Mexico. I just think that public schools are already hurting so much financially, that they can ill afford to waste a moment or a dime on a program that isn't as effective. Growing up in the Hispanic community has made me see some real changes socially - and I have to admit that part of the problems I'm seeing now are more related to the social attitudes of the day - for instance, at the grammar school level, kids yell "Viva Mexico!" during the flag salute quite often, and their parents fly the Mexican flag & have it as bumper stickers, window decals, etc....the older members of our Hispanic community are distressed; it used to be we were proud to be American, and the Mexicans were glad to be here, and the kids were anxious to speak English. I dont' know what happened - do the whites here somehow make them feel unwelcome or do the Mexicans really long for home or what???? In San Diego, my grandson goes through alot for being a "white boy", even though he's 1/4 Hispanic/Indian.
post #4 of 25
AZ has bi-lingual classes. Unfortunately, the kids are taught mostly in Spanish and don't learn English well, at all. As a matter of fact, a large number of Spanish-speaking parents fight to have their children removed from these classes, as they realize that proficiency in English is going to help their kids get ahead.

I'm all for people being bi-lingual but, NOT teaching kids English condemns them to a lifetime of menial, low-paying jobs.
post #5 of 25
The jury is still out, as far as I'm concerned. Some kids do very well in the "sink or swim" system, while others do not, and need bilingual classes, and often remedial classes.
I'm a teacher in a city where 22% of the population is foreign-born. Many children have little or no exposure to German until they are in first grade. Germany did so poorly on the OECD's PISA tests, which revealed that far too many kids aren't proficient in any language, that my state is now requiring German to be taught at a pre-school level, and that kids take a proficiency test before being enrolled in first grade. It's too early to say whether it will help.
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
My personal experience is exactly like yours, Katl8e! And I agree, 110%, Jcat, that the main language needs to be taught as early as possible. It's just the new thinking is to teach the kids mainly in Spanish for at least 2 years, then gradually work them into English, and it doesn't seem to work very well at all. I recently met some Mexican children from a school so tiny that they are incorporated into the mainstream, and they are peer-tutored, and meet with a resource teacher daily, and they are doing, from what I can tell, much better with English than the kids from our larger schools. Some of the parents, both regular & Mexican, have tried to address the issue, but it's so politically incorrect around here, the school boards seem reluctant to discuss it. Apparently, the most common argument is that it's wrong to make the children feel that speaking Spanish is somehow inferior and that giving them a curriculum in English, with supplemental courses to help them learn English from Spanish, will convey that message, which I don't understand. After all, if I moved to Mexico, I would not expect the schools there to print textbooks, etc. into English until my family had a chance to learn Spanish.
post #7 of 25
A point to remember is that probably more than a few children that have been identified as "Mexican children" are in fact American citizens.

Part of the problem is continuing to identify people by their ethnicity. I was born here in the United States, as were my parents and grandparents. Yet, I have had people refer to me as a "Mexican."

I am an American.

It is hard to assimilate immigrant children or the children of immigrants if we (speaking globally here) continue to make such unfair distinctions.
post #8 of 25
I think is necessary for people coming into this country. I do not agree that kids should spend more than 3 yrs in this setting,but I can't see doing away with it. I don't agree with the statement that most kids who spend their lives in ESL have an accent. I have spoken to many who speak perfect english. Here the kids go to ESL classes 2-3 times a week, but are in a "regular class" .
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
catlover7731, you are making the same point that I'm trying to! By "mainstream" I refer to " regular classes" - I think that this method works best.
And BigBadWolf, I guess I need to be more specific & write "Spanish Spoken at Home" or make up an abbreviation for it (maybe SSH. My mom & her siblings were all born in CA but learned English in school). I can understand your sensitivity; my father's people are descended from the Verdugo family, and have been Californios since Spain owned it (my Yaqui ancestors have been here longer than that) and I've been asked if I know English!!. That said, yes, I recognize that babies born here are American citizens, and I am affronted that they have been raised to yell, "Viva Mexico!" during the flag salute (I was a personal witness during our school's Patriot Day celebration, of what the teachers were complaining about - for some reason, quite a few of our Hispanics prefer to remind the rest of us that they are Hispanics. I think that this is counterproductive to trying to assimilate into this culture). My El Salvadoran sis-in-law has done an outstanding job of raising her children to be proud to be American while maintaining their cultural identity (they visit El Salvador at least once a year, and are fluent in both languages, and participate in their church's human aid activities regularly). When I grew up, our grammar school was so small, we were a full blend of different backgrounds, and ethnicity didn't even enter our minds; what mattered was what your dad did for a living - miner, rancher, DWP, Forest Service, state worker, etc. It was a great way to grow up & I wish that kids nowadays could have that opportunity.
post #10 of 25
I think Spanish speaking children should learn English. I'm finding how difficult it is for their parents to try to get along when they can't speak English. For example I take telephone calls from a lot of Spanish speaking people, and if they need a Doctor or have an emergency, it's very hard for them to get life saving help. I think they should be taught in English in school, and not in Spanish. They'll learn it if we don't continually cater to them. The reason most Spanish speaking adults don't even try to learn English in the Los Angeles area, is that we cater to them, by providing them with Spanish speaking people to take care of them. Attorney offices have to have Spanish speaking people in their offices, Doctors offices, it's the same thing. We don't do it for other people who speak other languages. They HAVE to learn English. I think the Spanish speaking people should absolutely HAVE to learn English, if they want to live in the USA.
post #11 of 25
No I don't think English as a second language should be paid for with tax payers dollars
post #12 of 25
The L. A. School District is more than 60% Hispanic. I think it makes it more difficult for these children to learn English, because it is much easier to hear Spanish from other students than to hear normal first-language English. Their role models are mainly teachers and school personnel. I'm not expressing myself very well with this, I hope you get my drift. The Spanish speaking kids are the majority in the school district, not the English speaking kids. There are also large numbers of children speaking other languages such as Farsi, Korean, Chinese, Russian, and Armenian.
post #13 of 25
I am uncertain about the effects of either program (unless you have some numbers to show) but what I am interested in, is the way you phrase your question. Why is there a mention of "we taxpayers?" It seems almost implying that "these" immigrants do not pay pay taxes or that they are not part of the locals. I understand you did not mean this, but the phrasing of the question seems to be slightly biased and emotive, even if you did not intend it to be. The term "taxpayers" while neutral is almost never used in a sentence that reflects a positive or content statement but is usually used in a sentence that reflects a certain anger or discontent.

Secondly, I do not see the issue of accents being relevant. After all there is the American accent (which can be further subdivided into various regions), the Canadian accent , the German accent, etc.

Thirdly, the cost benefit analysis of it taking money from one program to another. In an ideal world all beneficial programs should be fully funded but of course we do not live in such a world. So the question then is how do we decide on the funding for each program. Personally I prefer distribution of the funding in a manner gives the most benefit and least cost to society as a whole. Therefore a statement that funding of one particular program removes funding from another is a mere statement of the reality but does not actually suggest that such funding plan is inherently wrong unless you base it on a certain distribution test.

A point on integration. Comments are often directed at immigrants to Western countries who stay in their own communities and do not integrate. What is one's definition of integration and assimiliation of culture? How do you define culture? Does celebration of St Patrick's day mean the Irish have not assimiliated or has St Patrick's day been "assimiliated" and is part of the American culture. Perhaps culture (if it can be defined) is constantly changing.

Also, if one travel around you would notice that even when Americans (or other "Westerners") move overseas a large number do not "assimiliate" into the culture and instead form their own little community. Some even form schools that mimick their home country's education. They even celebrate the 4th of July or Thanksgiving even though some of them have been living in the other country for years and even raising their children their.
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by katie=^..^=
The L. A. School District is more than 60% Hispanic. I think it makes it more difficult for these children to learn English, because it is much easier to hear Spanish from other students than to hear normal first-language English. Their role models are mainly teachers and school personnel. I'm not expressing myself very well with this, I hope you get my drift. The Spanish speaking kids are the majority in the school district, not the English speaking kids. There are also large numbers of children speaking other languages such as Farsi, Korean, Chinese, Russian, and Armenian.

I understand what you are saying, but if we didn't cater to the Spanish speaking people so much, then their parents would HAVE to learn English, which in the end is better for them, if they want to live in the USA. The children cming from Rssian, Chinese, Russian, ect are taught in English, unless they go to a Private Chinese, Russian ect school. I've also noticed that the people who speak Chinese, Russian ect ect, have to learn to speak at least passable English, because no one caters to them. I think it should be the same way for Spanish speakers. Since my job is bassically telephone work, I speak to all kinds of people. The sad thing is, that Spanish speakers EXPECT me to speak Spanish for them. They EXPECT everyone to speak Spanish for them, instead of them trying to learn passable English. Yes, there is a HUGE Hispanic population in Southern California, but I feel that tax payers having to spend extra money to teach their non English speaking children a "special" way, is not right. The parents should learn to speak English and start teaching the language of the land they wish to live in, which is the USA, and the language is English. This is just another example of catering to them, which is unfair to the taxpayers.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by catsknowme
Okay, here's another topic that is starting to affect many more states than California - Should our public schools be required to provide English as a Second Language[ESL] programs (most of these will service the Mexican children)? If you are not familiar with the program, it provides Spanish speaking children a Spanish speaking educational staff and cirriculum in Spanish, and then there are extra classes for them to learn English. At least, that's the way the programs work now. Now, I realize that some adjustment procedures to assimilate these children into our society are necessary, but here's why I don't think that the new way of doing things is working -
1. The majority of these children retain their accent & don't seem to learn either English or Spanish grammar/reading/writing skills very well. [[Of all the people I know who learned the old-fashioned way, with the Spanish speaking kids mainstreamed during the bulk part of the day, with extra English classes after school, they retained their ability to read/write/speak Spanish very well (in fact, they received better Spanish grammar lessons here in the U.S. than they would have in Mexico) and speak/read/write English superbly.!!!]]
2. By isolating the Spanish speaking kids into their own ESL courses, they tend to remain in their own group rather than try to assimilate into our culture.
3. The ESL generations too frequently grow up speaking good English, but not reading/writing it very well at all.
4. The ESL program is expensive, and cuts needed funding for other areas, including P.E., assistance to Special Needs children, etc.
5. I think that there needs to be more follow-up on the kids who went thru school the old-fashioned way (I know I'm way too politcally-incorrect on this) and see how those people fare now, & compare their language/grammar skills to those adults who did the ESL track.
Reminder: Please keep those claws retracted, but hisses & fizzed-fur are o.k. with me:!!! Thanks for your input, pro & con! .........FYI, I'm Chicana,Native American.....
You hit a nerve, as I am an ESL teacher.

First of all, I'd like to clarify what ESL is and what it isn't. You described bilingual education, which provides instruction and materials in the native language.

ESL is diffferent, it can be a pullout program, where students go to special classes to learn English. ESL teachers can also go into classrooms and co-teach or work with a group of students within the larger class. ESL can also be content-based, where students work on both content concepts and English simultaneously. It is not watered down, just structured so they can understand and learn.

Point 1--Accent is not as important as structure. I have heard that is because of physiological structure, once you reach a certain age, your vocal chords are set in certain patterns, and therefore certain sounds. Don't know if this is true.

Point 2--ESL serves students from many ethnic backgrounds, not just Spanish speakers. In one of my classes, I had several Spanish speakers, a few Haitians, a boy from Viet Nam and another from Botswana. That's hardly isolation.

Point 3-- Sadly, this is true. It takes 5 to 7 years at a minimum to attain proficiency in reading and writing, but only 1 or 2 years to pass as a near native speaker. Students are often dismissed from ESL once they can speak well, and miss needed instruction in reading and writing. They have gaps in their learning which need to be addressed.

Point 4--To completely get rid of ESL, you'd need a Supreme Court decision. In the 1970s,a case called Lau v. Nichols resulted in the court declaring that "sink or swim" (total English immersion) violates their rights. Most of these students didn't ask to come here. When they first arrive, they are scared and feel lost. I can see it when I meet them.

Point 5-- Early immigrants seemed to assimilate, especially Germans. BUT, Germans had bilingual schools from the mid-1850s to the beginning of WWI. In addition, many early immigrants who were in English only classes did not succeed in school, they dropped out. I read an article a few months ago, and it was a very high number.

The point is, it is hard to learn another language, and be able to use it. Immigrants who come here legally and pay taxes have the right to a good education for their children, including ESL if needed. It only helps the US to have a well-educated population.

As for expecting people to speak Spanish, I have met parents like that, but I have also met a number of Spanish-speaking parents who are taking English classes. They might be embarrassed to try to speak, but they are learning.
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
Bren, thank you for the clarification! And I am glad that it was pointed out that in a setting of over 60% Hispanic, Spanish will probably be the language most spoken. My mom's family lived in Cucamonga, and their school population was almost all Hispanic with Italian, a few "whites"; speaking in Spanish wasn't allowed, even at recess, unless directed to a teacher - that was extreme, but very effective, and I was wondering if there isn't a happy medium somewhere. I do NOT want to do away with ESL classes because there's a much greater problem for the society as a whole, when a portion of the population doesn't speak the native language. For instance, when a defendant in a criminal complaint doesn't speak/understand the language, not only does the Court need to hire an interpreter, so does the defense attorney and the investigative office, so those cases are much more expensive to prosecute, but we can't give up prosecuting nor can we risk the defendant not thoroughly understanding what is going on...and it's an issue that is becoming very important to more and more states.
post #17 of 25
Glad I could clear some things up. As for using Spanish, or native language, it can actually help students become better in English. When I was studying Spanish, i often used English to help me figure out things. Also, students maintain their home language, and become bilingual. They also don't get cut off from their family, which can happen if they lose their first language.
post #18 of 25
I'm all for ESL myself. Have you ever heard our so-called English speaking children having a conversation? Most of them could use a good English speaking class.

In the Toronto area we have many cultures and ESL is offered and used by immigrants. I truly believe peoples who come to North America from other places try harder to learn to speak English than we North Americans do when we go to other countries. We expect THEM to make the effort to understand our English.

You say the Mexicans only want Spanish spoken. In Quebec (which as you know is still Canada), try asking for something in English! Ha! Not a chance. The Quebec people insist that only French be spoken in their province and only want French signs up as well. My aunt is French and when her husband asked for directions in English, the two police officers said to each other in French, "let's give them the wrong directions", at which point my aunt spoke up in French and told them if they gave her the wrong directions she was going to report them to their superiors. You can imagine the stunned expression on their faces.
post #19 of 25
Brenda -

Your post was fantastic. Lots of great clarification on what the ESL program really is. In the state of Florida, all educators must have an endorsement on their certificates that shows they have taken continuing education in best addressing the needs of ESL students. That endorsement represents 300 hours of coursework that, at least in my district, I didn't get paid one red cent to attend. And it was all taken nights and summers. That's more than seven 40-hour work weeks, for those of you doing the math.
post #20 of 25
Aw shucks, Deb, thanks. As an ESL teacher, I feel like I need to advocate for my students quite often. In Pennsylvania, we also have to have a credential to teach, but only for ESL teachers. We're a little behind the times, considering our linguistic minority population.

My coursework involved 12 credits of grad classes, some I took during the school year, but 6 credits I did one summer.
post #21 of 25
I grew up in Phoenix and had many "spanish" speaking kids around me but they went to class with us and learned both languages well.. A seprate class... Not nessasary at all , unless they have no english then maybe a semester...
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by eburgess
No I don't think English as a second language should be paid for with tax payers dollars
I agree.
post #23 of 25
I don't know. I live in a small town with a large hispanic population. We have separate classes for the spanish speaking kids, but from being together during family nights, etc, I know those kids speak very good english. But many parents do not speak english. The literature sent home to us is english on one side, spanish on the other.

I do not know how all those kids could possibly assimilate if they just jumped into kindergarten not knowing any english. How much time would that take away from my kids, if the teacher is trying to teach these other children who cannot understand her? And some of the kids are either mainstreamed, or some bilingual kids are in the regular classes, because my older kids pick up some spanish words from their friends.

And now, they are offering classes aimed at the english speaking kids, starting in kindergarten, to learn spanish along with the regular class. So the english speaking kids can learn bilingually!

I understand not wanting to pay for other peoples problems. But my 9 y/o dd also has a girl with downs syndrome in her class. That child is mainstreamed, but has a one on one tutor. She is a cute little blond girl. Does that make her more important than the dark eyed girl sitting next to her? I just think we probably need to suck it up and help these kids.

But don't be so politically correct or whatever is going on in California, that it hurts the kids we are trying to help.
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by eburgess
No I don't think English as a second language should be paid for with tax payers dollars
And if the imiigrants are also contributing taxes, which many do, what then? How will their children learn English without some sort of special instruction. It's not a learning disability, but it is a need which has to be addressed, much like students who do have disabilities. And then, when they grow up, not having learned English, becaues classes weren't provided for them, everyone will complain about "those people" speaking something else. And they'll raise their kids to speak something else, etc.

Some say people should learn English before they come here. Tell that to my Ethiopian student who spent her life in a refugee camp before moving to the US. Was she supposed to stay, to all intents and purposes, homeless until she learned enough English? Or tell it to my Cuban students, who often arrive with only part of their families, the rest back in Cuba. They get out when they can.

The point is, they're here, they need to learn English, and they deserve a good education, especially those who came legally and pay taxes. The point of free public education is to make sure our society is educated. If we withhold needed instruction from a certain group, we don't have a well-educated society.
post #25 of 25
Thread Starter 
some very good points made in here! My personal experience has been like Sharky's - that the separate classes weren't necessary, but, if the SSH (Spanish spoken at home) population is over 60% of the classroom population, then I see how it wouldn't work because then the mainstream teacher would be overwhelmed. It's interesting to note that more of the posts objecting to separate classes are from Arizona & California, who have the most experience, both multi-generationally and by sheer numbers of immigrants involved. And Beckiboo, that is awesome that in your district, the DD (dev. dis.) child can be mainstreamed with a one-on-one tutor - out here, our DD kids are very lucky if they can be mainstreamed to 35%,with several students sharing an aide and that's because there are not enough $$ to supply aides - it's been that way for awhile ( I used to volunteer as an SDC aide, giving up precious sleep because I worked nights, so that some very deserving boys could attend mainstream classes - it's so frustrating how few funds there are!!) No only do the bi-lingual and SDC classes need more funding, there are very limited programs for the gifted children in our local schools. I wish that there would be any easy answer, but with the state population growing so rapidly (if you could just see the mass building going on in the desert, land formerly considered uninhabitable) this school-funds situation is only going to get worse...but I'm veering off onto another subject, sorry....
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