211. Subject: ESL program.  Dr. Sadek, I am an ESL teacher in a small high school in Minnesota. I mentioned your web site in a gathering with some ESL teachers. Everyone was wondering if you are planning to have a conference in Minnesota in the future.  I do have a question regarding setting up a better ESL program at my school district. For grades K-3, we have around 30 ESL students.  A teacher is running the ESL program there. She has an elementary school license, but she is not certified in ESL.  I have a teaching license in ESL, and teach content-based ESL to students at grades 4-12 at two different schools. (grades 4-6, 15 students; grades 7-12, 17 students) Since most of the ESL students can't pass the mainstream content-area classes, and all ESL students need to receive credits from content-area classes in order to graduate in MN, our high school principal hired a teacher to teach sheltered content classes to all 19 students at grades 7-12. This newly hired teacher is a great teacher, but she is not certified to teach ESL, either.  Eventually, there will be problems with hiring uncertified teachers to work with ESL students.  If we hire two more certified ESL teachers instead, how can we help ESL students at grades 7-12 pass difficult ainstream classes, especially when most of them are reading at the 1st to 3rd grade reading levels?  We need some insight from you. What should we do in order to try to meet the needs of the ESL students? Your suggestions will be greatly appreciated.


Dear ESL teacher: What you said above about your own program --"content-based ESL"-- is what needs to happen. In other words, the content area teachers AND YOU must work together, as a team, so that the ESL teacher --YOU-- prepares the ESL students to successfully participate in the content area classes BEFORE the ESL students attend the content area classes.

Now, working as a team, YOU help the English Learners master the language of the content areas during the ESL class. YOU are the teacher certified for teaching ESL. The content area teachers must work with YOU, providing you BEFOREHAND, the lessons they will present in their content area classes. They should also provide YOU with visuals, manipulatives, the key terminology and the key ideas or parts of the reading assignments that they will teach during their classes. With this information and these tool provided by the content area teachers, NOW YOU prepare a language lesson where you help students understand and master the language that content area teachers will use during their lessons. YOU must work with the students FIRST, helping them acquire, learn and master the language of the content areas. The content area teachers work NEXT with the same students, teaching the concepts and using the language of the content areas. YOUR ESL students will be very successful since ALL of you will be helping them in a well coordinated fashion.

My suggestion above is exactly what happened in one particular lesson demonstration I provided some months ago at E.E. Smith Middle School, here in NC. I arrived on a Monday morning at this middle school and the ESL teacher, who had been ill the week before, had NO lesson prepared for the students. So, I suggested I could show her how to prepare the ESL students for a science lesson on CARBON. I had used this lesson on CARBON previously in DeQueen, Arkansas, as I provided a demonstration for content area and ESL teachers there.

On Tuesday, at E.E.Smith Middle School, I provided content area lesson demonstrations for teachers, but the science teacher suggested he had not prepared any lessons because he had fallen from a ladder and had been absent most of the previous week. A cast covered most of his left arm. So, I asked him if he had done, or was planning on doing, a lesson on CARBON in his chemistry class. He responded that CARBON was a topic coming up in the curriculum within two or three weeks and that it would be OK to begin on that day since, anyway, he had nothing else planned.

To my incredible surprise and total amazement, almost ALL of the ESL students I had worked with the previous day in the ESL class --along with many other English-only speakers-- showed up for the CHEMISTRY lesson on CARBON. The content area teachers observing this demonstration could NOT believe HOW WELL the ESL students performed in this class. They could respond, they would raise their hands to answer questions, they participated fully in my chemistry lesson. WHY? They were prepared to understand the lesson since I had introduced to them BEFORE the content area lesson, the language of the content area and the visuals I used in the CHEMISTRY lesson.

As far as ESL students "reading at 1st to 3rd grade" reading levels, it concerns me very much that 6th to 12th grade ESL students are taught reading as if they were beginning readers in the lower grades. There is NO need or reason for that. ESL students must be taught the language of the content areas for their grade levels. These students can learn to read English (especially if they are literate in their own respective languages) using the words and the English language presented in the content area texts. These ESL students do NOT need to be reading lower grade primers or easy lower grade books. They must be provided an equal educational opportunity and equal access to the core curriculum as their same-age English-only classmates are provided. Any student can learn English using the language of the content areas. These ESL students need NOT be taught using simple below grade level books.  Maybe in some future time I might visit with all of you in MN, especially if invited by your school district. THANKS for mentioning my Web Sites to your colleagues. THANK YOU for your great question!!!


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