128. I am a Special Education teacher working with sixth graders. I would like to ask you a few questions about ESL students.  My question deals with students who have been identified as ESL and special education. When testing to see if their may be a learning disability, should you give them the test in their native language to rule out that it is not because of a language barrier?  Can a student be served in both Special Education and receive ESL services at the same time?  How many years is a student allowed to receive ESL services and what happens if he is still not proficient in English when he no longer can receive services?

Absolutely!!! YES, ma'am!!!!! It is absolutely necessary --and THE LAW-- that testing be provided through a language the child understands.

A learning disability should be apparent when the child is tested in the native language. A learning disability can NOT be identified on the basis of testing through the second language ONLY.

An important consideration when choosing a native language test is the child's culture. A TRANSLATED test --from English into Spanish, for example-- may NOT reflect accurately the child's culture. Just because the translated test is in the child's native language may not be sufficient. Such a test may provide cultural miscues through some of the pictures, some of the translated sentences, or some of the instructions.

YES!!!!! We have in California (and Florida, Texas, NY, etc.) many Special Education teachers who are also ESL teachers. We need hundreds more ESL/SE teachers. However, a child served through Special Education, as needed, must also be served through ESL, as needed. The school must provide the necessary program modifications --the "services" you mention-- to insure academic success.

Now, your last question is excellent -- and very similar to a question that a doctor may ask: How long is a patient allowed to receive medical services, and what happens if the patient is still ill or disable when he can no longer receive services?

I believe the answer in both cases --the case of the sick patient and the ESL student's case--may be:
You MUST modify the services to make them so effective and efficient that the patient, or ESL student-- becomes totally cured --or academically fluent in English-- within the time the services are to be rendered.

The key idea here is:
The needed services (the program modifications that the school district designs to serve students with limited command of the English language) MUST help students overcome the barrier, i.e., lack of academic English fluency that prevents limited English speaking students from achieving on a par with English speaking students.

If the student receives the prescribed services and still the barrier to academic success is not overcome, then THE PROGRAM must be changed. The student in need of services cannot be just left out there to solve his/her own problems.



For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.


For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:


Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Certification (12/2006)

3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406

Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605

E-mail:  csssadek@gte.net