ESL Strategies

Stand-alone ESL program

Stand-alone ESL program normally groups LEP (Limited English Proficient) students together and subjects them to learning in a manner similar to that used in teaching other foreign languages. The program operates solely to serve LEP students who are separated from the rest of their colleagues and confined in an environment where their need for English instructions are addressed conclusively and in a special manner.

The program operates on certain days and durations of normal school time. In most cases, the program enrolls close to fifty LEP students in every school in the district (Seelye, 2007). Teachers normally move within various schools in the district to attend to the needs of these students. Students are assessed by their teachers through tests and examinations administered during and at the end of the term.

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They are examined on their English proficiency in terms of writing and oral skills. Those who pass the tests and examinations are promoted to the next level of English proficiency. In districts where LEP student are few, the program groups them into one resource center. The resource center collects students from various schools in the district and subjects them to learning (Short & Echevarria, 2005).

Stand-alone ESL program appears to be different from the information contained in the articles about ESL programs in the following manner:

According to articles read, an ESL program should employ a natural approach in development of English language. In this approach, LEP students are subjected to learning and improving their English proficiency in a manner similar to the way they acquired their first language and interactions with other native speakers of English.

Apart from this, an ESL program should also allow students to develop communication skills followed by public speaking to enhance fluency and confidence to communicate with native speakers (Short & Echevarria, 2005). The strategy allows effortless acquisition of English skills through provision of a comprehensive input where students feel comfortable to learn (little pressure is involved). In order to enhance English learning, an ESL program should maintain the use of visuals to enhance written and spoken words.

Gestures can also be employed for purposes of added emphasis. The use of simple syntax, slow rate of speaking, long natural pause, shorter sentences and repetition of words/sentences should be among the instructional strategies. Instructors need to observe high frequency vocabularies and insist on participatory learning as well as enthusiasm/low anxiety. This information has not been mentioned in stand-lone ESL program (Seelye, 2007).

Stand-alone ESL program appears to be similar to the information contained in the articles in the following manner:

The two contain similar information on the proficiency levels for English learners. It is required that students be subjected to different levels of English proficiency according their English proficiency skills. “The five levels include beginning, early intermediate, intermediate, early advanced and advanced” (Mikulecky, 2006, p.39). According to the articles and the stand-alone ESL program, students have to pass each stage before being promoted to the next level (Ramirez, 2008).

Stand-alone ESL program and the instructional practices mentioned above can be evaluated by qualitative and quantitative means to gauge success in attaining expected outcomes of the program. Some of the measures that can be used in evaluation include focus groups, interviews, observations, class work portfolios, commercial tests and examinations among other scaled performance ratings (Malley, 2003).

The strengths and weaknesses of the instructional practices and stand-alone ESL program are as follows:

Stand-alone ESL program interferes with the normal curriculum of schools and makes it difficult for students to cope up with other subjects. “However, the program is tailored to meet the linguistic, academic, and affective needs of students” (Sperazi, 2004, p.67).

On the other hand, instructional practices stated in the articles provides LEP students with the instruction necessary to allow them to progress through school at a rate commensurate with their native-English speaking peers and makes the best use of district and community resources(Ramirez, 2008, p.23).

However, these practices require a lot of dedication and commitment by both teachers and students which is difficult to achieve.

References

Malley, J. (2003). Public School Teacher Preparation and the Teaching of ESL. Tesol newsletter 18(1), 18-22.

Mikulecky, L. (2006). Handbook of ideas for evaluating ESL programs. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University.

Ramirez, J. D. (2008). Comparing Structured English Immersion and Bilingual Education: First Year Results of National Study. American journal of education, 9(5), 122-49.

Seelye, H. (2007). A guide to the selection of ESL education program designs. Arlington Heights, IL: Bilingual Education Service Center.

Short, D., & Echevarria, J. (2005). Teacher skills to support English language learners. Association for supervision and curriculum development, 1(1), 1-7.

Sperazi, L. (2004). Team evaluation: A guide for ESL education programs.