17. What do schools do when students arrive with no English and not much schooling? Are there "Newcomers Centers" that work? Are "Newcomers Centers" a form of segregating students? Do you recommend "Classroom Centers" or a building within a school for newcomers to get oriented for a few days or weeks?
Schools that take seriously their responsibility to teach ALL students, TEACH ALL STUDENTS, whether they arrive with little or lots of English, with little or lots of content area knowledge or skills. Sometimes it is difficult to admit that each and every student is different somehow, that no two students have the same strengths or the same weaknesses.
If I visit a school and I am told that the same curricular and instructional (and logistical) programs have been in place for more than one year, I truly wonder if the students at that school are so much alike from year to year. Here in California, particularly, the school population constantly changes within each school, within the schools in the community or communities that comprise a school district, within the cities --large or small-- in our state.
It is better to think and re-think the curricular, instructional and logistical plans of a school every year, and sometimes, at least twice within a single school year.
I have visited "Newcomers Centers" in Los Angeles and other cities. Newcomers Centers in Los Angeles allow English Learners --usually students whose primary language is not very common within the school or community-- to attend FOR NOT MORE THAN ONE SCHOOL YEAR another school rather than their neighborhood school. In this other school, all students are English Learners. All teachers have the required state certification to provide English as a Second Language classes and to teach subject matter to students whose primary language is not English. In California, that state certification is the C.L.A.D.: the CrossCultural, Language and Academic Development Certificate, or the
B.-C.L.A.D: the Bilingual-CrossCultural, Language and Academic Development Certificate. I hold both of these certificates.
At the Newcomers Center all English Learners are provided the state mandated program which includes four instructional components: (1) English as a Second Language (ESL) which in California is called English Language Development (ELD); (2) Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE); (3) a Multicultural / Positive Self-Image & Self Esteem component; and (4) Primary Language Support, usually through cross-age tutors or parent involvement. On extremely rare occasions a student is kept at the Newcomers Center past the cut off time of ONE academic year. English Learners are provided grade level instruction through English in an integrated program where the ESL/ELD classes and SDAIE classes maximally promote language and academic concept development.
For students whose Primary Language (L1) is very common in a school or community, a Newcomers Center makes little educational sense. In this case a bilingual education program may be recommended. A two-way dual language program would receive an even strong recommendation. In a bilingual program or a two-way dual language program, ALL students, English-only speakers and L1 speakers, receive the same state mandated instructional components. All students receive Second Language instruction, Specially Designed Academic instruction, a strong Multicultural, Positive Self Image & Self Esteem component, and Primary Language instruction.
While Newcomers Center are usually located in school campuses away from the corresponding neighborhood schools of the children who attend classes at the Center, and busing is required to and from the usually remote Center, bilingual and two-way dual language programs can be offered within the neighborhood schools, no busing required. While Newcomers Centers are exclusively for English Learners, ALL students can participate in bilingual education or two-way dual language programs. Newcomers Centers do not segregate English Learners if a clearly limited amount of time is precisely specified and no English Learner is allowed to attend beyond the specified and limited amount of time.
If bilingual education programs or dual-language programs cannot be implemented within a school, there are other choices that can be selected. For example, in the Los Angeles Unified School District I had the opportunity to organize an entire school with an exceedingly transient student population. On any one day at this particular elementary school, 3-15 new students would enroll, mostly students with no English and little or no educational background, and 3-15 students would leave the school for other schools within the district or outside the district. Under these circumstances, I recommended a horizontal organization of grade levels.
Each grade level was organized horizontally to include: (1) an entry classroom where ALL NEW students to the grade would be initially assigned. The teacher in this entry-level class at each grade level emphasized an integrated ESL(ELD)/SDAIE instructional program and was bilingual, providing very rapid concept development through the language the new student understood best. (2) As these new students gained English language proficiency and academic concepts, they were moved to the next class at the same grade level. Usually the move responded to more new student arriving at the entry classroom. The teacher at this next class did not have to deal with totally non-English speaking students (Pre-Production level), but with students who could function within a class and had some fluency and knowledge in English (Early-Production level). (3) As the need arose, and responding to more new students arriving or other students leaving the school, students would be moved to the next classroom within the same grade, where students would continue to grow in terms of language development (Speech Emergence and Intermediate Fluency levels) and academic skills.
This horizontal organization of this elementary school worked much more efficiently and effectively than the current practice of assigning NEW students, many of them with little or no knowledge of English and very limited schooling, to whichever teacher has empty chairs and desks in (h)is/er classroom. I consider the practice of "sprinkling" new students evenly among all teachers a totally anti-pedagogical practice that attempts to force students into established programs rather than creating educational programs that meet the needs of students.
On other occasions I worked helping teachers implement TEAM-TEACHING programs. In schools with limited bilingual faculty and staff, bilingual teachers team taught with one or more teachers so that, as the English Learners grew in their English language and academic concept development, they participated more and more in English-only classes taught by English-only teachers in the team. At the same time, English-only students had the wonderful opportunity to develop bilingual skills.
There are many instructional, curricular and logistical arrangements possible. Responsible school that seriously consider their obligation to TEACH ALL STUDENTS, constantly review and re-think their educational programs to meet the needs of ALL students.
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:
CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK, Ph.D.
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