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EPS ETEC 424 September 12, 2018


I have wanted to be a teacher since I first started school. Unfortunately, during my teenage

years, my mother talked me out of it. So, I joined the Army. Now retired, I have the good

fortune to teach! My ultimate goal is the become a Bilingual teacher. But until I am fully fluent,

teaching Spanish and assisting with ESL is my path. The goal of an ESL education program is to

provide students with the language skills necessary to interact in society and to be successful in

their educational endeavors. An ESL teacher develops language acquisition and cognitive

academic language skills through the use of sound instructional techniques. The ESL program

provides the English Language Learner (ELL) the opportunity to grasp the academic, social, and

cultural aspects of the English language through the teaching of reading, writing, spelling, and

listening. These are all skills that anyone living in the United States must have to be successfully

in both academic and business settings. Based on my experiences as a “foreigner” living in

another country, and as a teacher with students who have very limited English, I have developed

a strong desire to aid students in acquiring the skills necessary to ensure their future success.

When I was stationed in Germany, the DoD School did not meet my youngest son’s needs so

I transferred him to a German school in 7th Grade. At the time, he only spoke English. The

school supported his need to learn German by starting him in a program called

Vorbereitungsklasse (Preparation Class). He attended this class half days to learn basic German

vocabulary as well as vocabulary specific to his courses (afternoon classes were English and

Math). After three months, he started regular classes full-time but support was available to him

continually to assist with vocabulary specific to his studies. At that time, he even took Spanish

(taught in German!). Because of the support he initially received, he not only spoke German
EPS ETEC 424 September 12, 2018

conversationally at the end of the school year, he also had a very good grasp of Spanish. This

support was forgotten until I became a teacher. When I started teaching last year, several of my

students were new to English. I saw their struggle and decided that to become more involved in

their learning process. Although my support is for dual language programs for all students, I,

unfortunately, am not yet bilingual so feel I can best assist the learning process at this time

through the ESL program. I am very committed to our students’ acquisition of English and have

already begun interacting with our ESL coordinator.

As previously stated, my ultimate goal is to become bilingual so that I can teach in bilingual

programs. Bilingual education can be very effective, however, to be truly effective it must be

continued throughout the educational years. Unfortunately, many schools do not offer bilingual

programs. I find to this be a travesty. From my personal experience of being stationed in several

foreign countries and interacting with the people, I wholeheartedly believe every United States

citizen should be required to learn a second language. We do not have an official language but

are a country of languages and this should continue. To be bilingual has tremendous advantages

and programs need to be started in every school for every grade level. The only place where I

am familiar that this has occurred is in Fort Leavenworth, KS. When my older son began 1st

Grade, all children who began school that year were required to take Spanish classes, through

the end of 12th grade! Children starting the opposite years were required to take French. I love

this idea! Because of his exposure to a second language for the two years I was stationed there,

although not truly through a bilingual program, he now speaks Spanish and Korean and is

studying Arabic!

Unfortunately, there are several factors which inhibit the success of bilingual programs in the

United States. First, and foremost, is governmental support. Many state governments do not
EPS ETEC 424 September 12, 2018

support bilingual education – they believe everyone in the United States must speak English. As

a result, funding is often not provided, or not provided at levels necessary, to support the needed

programs. There is also debate as to the effectiveness of a bilingual education, with some critics

arguing that it hinders an ELL student’s ability “to assimilate and rapidly acquire the dominant

language of the U.S.” (Grooms, 2011)

As I am recently certified in ESL, my focus is here. Of the two main ESL programs in

Texas, Content-Based ESL and Pull-Out ESL, I believe that students new to English need to

participate in both, at least initially. When a student first begins school, regardless of age or

grade, a Pull-Out Program which introduces the language and specifically addresses the

individual student’s needs will best support the student. It provides the intensive vocabulary and

grammar instruction a new ELL needs, while still allowing them to participate in the regular

classroom so that they are exposed to other student’s culture and mannerisms. However, in

addition to this, and after the first year of Pull-Out, a Content-Based Program will further the

student’s understanding and facilitate learning of Enligh. Content-Based programs provide the

student with the academic language needed to be successful in further schooling and in the

business world. In this program, teachers incorporate the ELPS and students can use their

classmates as references to further their understanding. Content is adapted to the student’s

proficiency level and supported through both verbal and nonverbal communication.

As for the various methodologies of an ESL program, each has its own particular advantages.

However, I favor the use of two programs. The first is the dual language program. Often

considered a bilingual program, a dual language program is highly structured and provides the

ELL with the skills needed to master English while learning core content. Simultaneously,

English speakers learn a second language (in Texas typically Spanish). Students can assist each
EPS ETEC 424 September 12, 2018

other with their school work as the day and courses are divided between the two languages.

However, because dual language programs are rare in Texas, when an ELL student first enters

the school system, I believe that a Self-Contained ESL Class would best serve the needs of the

student. The ESL student is in class with other ESL learners for their core subjects so they

would be less hesitant to try English as the other students would be struggling with the same

problems. Additionally, it is more “student centered,” thus allowing the individual needs of the

student to be met.

However, once a student has a basic understanding of English, I am in favor of

mainstreaming the ESL student as it allows the grade-level academic content to more accessible

for English language learners (Morales, 2017, p. 50) while exposing them to the social

interaction and academic perspectives of English speakers in the classroom. With this program,

the goal is not only English language proficiency, but also academic achievement with content

instruction as the focus. (Johnston Nelson, 2015) Also, scaffolding is frequently incorporated

into the lesson for ESL students as the levels of English proficiency will likely vary. Context

clues are also used to clarify meaning and promote understanding. (Angulo, n.d.)

When speaking with other educators, many are unfamiliar with the types of programs offered

to an ESL student. Thus, I must define my models of choice by explaining the key advantages,

as well as disadvantages, in comparison to the other programs available. In many districts, the

number of ELL students limits the options available, as does the number of certified teachers.

Because of my support for dual language programs, I am fully in favor of using Spanish and

English in a classroom as the medium of instruction. However, as there are not sufficient

programs nor teachers certified to teach such programs, English remains the main language of

instruction. This often results in the ESL student having to “pick-up” English as the days and
EPS ETEC 424 September 12, 2018

weeks pass, even with the efforts of ESL programs in which English is specifically and explicitly

taught as a second language. This method is functional, but I believe that we, as teachers, can do

a much better job of assisting our ELLs.

In my classroom, even as a full-time sub a couple years ago, I always incorporate phrases

from other languages. When I was working with English only speakers in 2nd grade, we had

“Korean” days and “Spanish” days in which I introduced words or phrases to the children that

were incorporated into our daily activities. Some examples include “May I feed the fish please?”

in Korean when it was time to feed the fish. Or, “Good morning Ms. ___” in Spanish every time

we saw a teacher that day.” Culture was also discussed so on the days we used Korean as

greetings the students would bow to the teacher to whom they said hello. Although these are

very small parts of our day, they encourage the children to think about and ask about other

people and cultures, which I gladly answer! In my high school classes, we focus on Latin

American culture as compared to the United States due to the large Hispanic population,

discussing holidays and comparing the “Sweet 16” and “Quinceañera” as well as other activities.

I do this to open the minds of my students to other ways of living. By incorporating culture/

language in a “non-lesson” format their interest is piqued and my students have become more

accepting of the differences in everyone.

I truly believe that, although not perfect, the bilingual and ESL programs are a great start to

aiding our ELLs. However, not all parents agree. I have bilingual friends who refuse to teach

their child their maternal language for fear of the “stigma” associated with it. As such, there will

be occasions when a parent requests that his child be withdrawn from ESL or bilingual programs

and placed in a regular classroom. If this does occur, I must follow the parents’ wishes. First,

however, I address their concerns. Additionally, I explain the benefits of program participation.
EPS ETEC 424 September 12, 2018

For example, not only will an ESL program help bridge the gap between the two cultures, it will

provide the additional academic vocabulary and understanding to make them more successful not

only in school, but also in their future endeavors. But, if the parents continue with their request,

I will notify them that the school will comply with their request, but their child will still be

considered Limited English Proficient (LEP) and “will still participate in the same assessment

program, such as the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS), like

other LEP students, until the student meets criteria for re-classification as non-LEP.”

(Commissioner of Education)

Moreover, I must include that the programs focus not only on language, but also incorporate

culture. This can assist the student because in today’s times, our interconnectedness through the

media, business and other forums impacts our daily lives. Understanding this interconnectedness

of global dynamics, issues, trends, processes and systems in regards to ESL education helps our

students become better citizens. It can also help us become better teachers by giving us the tools

we need to more fully relate to our students. When we do not understand the various aspects of

our students’ lives, often culturally based, we make assumptions about the student that may not

be true. For example, when a student looks away from us when we speak, we might assume it is

a show of disrespect because that is how our culture teaches it when in fact it might be the

highest form of respect someone may show for their elders in the student’s native country!

Understanding these differences also allows us to increase our students’ awareness of other ways

of living and enables them to be more accepting of the differences found in each of us as

individuals. If teachers only concentrate on the English “language” we have failed to do our job.

Communication is not just verbal, and to fail to understand the manners in which our students

communicate severely limits our capacity to teach them.

EPS ETEC 424 September 12, 2018

Our understanding of global dynamics can and should be incorporated into our teaching in a

variety of ways. Regardless of the subject matter, we can incorporate concepts of other cultures

through the use of vocabulary, videos, discussions, and other activities. One activity that could

easily be incorporated into English, History, etc. is a comparison of education around the world.

There are countries where education is not available to everyone, either by distance, poverty or

language barriers. This would be an eye-opener for many. As would the differences in school

schedules around the world – how other countries go to school six days a week or classes extend

into the evening. Religious holidays and important political holidays throughout the world also

provide opportunity to incorporate discussion and activities to expand a student’s mind.

In conclusion, through my experiences in both in the military and as a teacher, I have come

to value the importance of understanding the language and culture of the country you are in. I

have a strong desire to assist others in learning English, and value bilingual programs where they

are available. Until I can become a bilingual teacher, my goal as an ESL (and Spanish) teacher is

to enrich the lives of my students through the incorporation of English into their culture without

substituting English for their native language.

EPS ETEC 424 September 12, 2018

Angulo, E. N. (n.d.). ELL and Benefits of Sheltered English Content. Retrieved April 27, 2017,
from ELL and Benefits of Sheltered English Content:
Commissioner of Education. (n.d.). Frequently Asked Questions Regarding ELL Programs - Texas. Retrieved April 27, 2018, from Frequently :
Grooms, A. (2011, October 14). Bilingual Eduation in the United States: An Analysis of the
Convergence of Policy, Theory and Research (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved April 27,
2018, from Bilingual Education in the United States: d-
Johnston Nelson, J. (2015, June 5). Content-Based and Sheltered Instruction: Components for
Success. Retrieved April 27, 2018, from Migrant Bilingual Webinar:
Morales, P. (2017). Content Review and Practice Book for the Texas Educator Certification
Program, 3rd edition. Houston: ELL Services.