English Language Learners

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Fulfilling the Appropriate Needs:
Working with English Language Learners

Fulfilling the Appropriate Needs for English Language Learners The American classroom is ever changing because desks are being filled with students who have increasingly diverse backgrounds. Many of these students need to be taught the English Language while in school, these students are known as English-Language Learners or ELL’s (Bursuck &Friend,2012). “Culturally and linguistically different students can resemble a disability, but can also mask an unmet disability” (Collier, 2012). That being said, it’s important for teachers to fully understand where an ELL is struggling. English-Language Learners can struggle from the process of learning a new language, cultural differences, or a disability. Disproportionality has been known to be an educational concern regarding ELL’s; quick referrals to special education without appropriate reasoning has caused loss of academic ground in students (Haung, Clarke,Milczarski,&Raby, 2011). When working with English-Language Learner’s many of their needs can go unmet; this guide provides implications to aid teachers and problem solving teams with the knowledge to recognize a culture difference from a disability to decrease disproportion. Cultural Differences and Behavior

If a teacher does not know how old the student’s are, how does he or she know what curriculum to cover? Metaphorically, this represents the importance of understanding cultural diversity as a teacher. Dr. Catherine Collier, who is currently a director of Cross Cultural Developmental Education Services, defines culture as,” how we organize our behaviors, communication, values, and emotions”(Collier, 2012, p.496). Culture reflects nature; in the nature vs. nurture debate. Educators should be aware of how much nature can impact a child’s upbringing and behavior (Bursuck & Friend, 2012). When a teacher encounters a student who comes from an increasingly diverse background, it is wise for the teacher to get as much background information about the student’s culture before he or she enters the class. By obtaining this knowledge before hand, the chances of identifying an ELL with an emotional disturbance or a learning disability can be decreased. Nature is what a child cannot manipulate, but nurture is what educators and other role models can. Implications for Educators

If an ELL comes into a class and expresses a unique behavior that may be considered misbehaving, the teacher should first stay calm, cool, and collective! The student may not be conscious about how to act in the new school setting. Teachers should make instructional awareness about how to think, act, and participate in the classroom to help aid ELL’s (Berg et al.,2011). If misbehaving continues after proper instruction the teacher may want to advance to talking privately with the student, reporting daily behavior, and use structural reward programs. It is important for the teacher with an ELL to document progress every other week. Interventions with functional assessments, family and student counseling, and other out side school programs can help aid the student who continues misbehaving. Instructional awareness has been reported to be highly effective by increasing social skills, and reducing inappropriate behavior in the classroom (Friend &Bursuck,2012). Cultural Differences and Academics

Cultural adaptations can be overwhelming and stressful for English Language Learners. According to recent studies, it takes 7 years to become proficient in the English Language (Berg et. al, 2012). High expectations are set for English Language Learners the students must adapt to the new cultural, acquire a new language and obtain new material in his or her grade. ELL’s may not be proficient with the English language but their lack of proficiency does not enable them to be cognitively disabled (Berg et. al, 2012). Learning a new language is a process not a task that...
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