This case study is based on an examination of a struggling student trying to learn English as a second language in an elementary school in Denton City, Oklahoma. Immigrants or international students coming to the US encounter many challenges in trying to fit into the US education system. This is because of the language barrier, especially for students whose first language is not English. Therefore, these learners will find it difficult to follow through their classes and excel in their studies unless they tale ESL classes. However, these ESL classes are lot as efficient as expected because they do into provide for appropriate mechanisms for integrating the learners into the mainstream curriculum. Consequently, while these students may improve in how they communicate in the English language through their ESL classes, they may encounter difficulties in trying to us either language in the broader curriculum.
Therefore, it is necessary to restructure the ESL programs to make sure they are responsive to the learning need of the foreign students regarding the requirements of the broader curriculum. For example, using English for educational purposes requires that one can express themselves logically and efficiently using appropriate vocabulary relating to a particular discipline. However, most ESL programs only focus on empowering learners to understand the basics of the English language such as grammar. This poses significant challenges for these students when trying to use the knowledge gained form their ESL classes in understanding other disciplines in school.
Therefore, this case study seeks to understand the challenges that ESL learners go through when trying to fit into the mainstream curriculum. As such, the study explores the difficulties the ESL students encounter as well as providing relevant recommendations on how this situation can be improved.
English as a Second Language (ESL) students is those that experience one or more learning difficulties in understanding English in order to use it for their educational purposes. These students are often expected to compete for other learners who are proficient in the English language, a challenge which is often very difficult for them (Sadler & Sugai, 2009). Besides, most ESL students have some form of learning disabilities that make it very difficult for them to get the best out of their education like other students within the same age group. Consequently, these children need a lot of help in terms of handling their school work, expressing themselves, behaving well in the school environment, and organizing themselves among other forms of assistance (Hallett and Hallett, 2010). Children with dyslexia, for instance, qualify as learners with special education needs.
Therefore, incorporating such learners into the mainstream curriculum in the US is very difficult due to the challenges they encounter in understanding the English language. The main challenge, especially for dyslexic students is reading comprehension. While they may be able to communicate effectively in the English language after attending the ESL classes, they may encounter problems in reading comprehension this may be problematic especially in the early years of their education since most of the coursework involved reading comprehension and understanding passages.
Therefore, in some cases, incorporating ESL learners into the mainstream curriculum may involve strategies such as the Individual Education Plan (IEP0 that is more common among Learners with Special Education Needs (SEN). An Individual Education Plan (IEP) refers to a plan or program that is designed for children with SEN with the objective of helping them to get the most out of their education (Hallett and Hallett, 2010). An IEP is based on the curriculum and the specific learning difficulties of a particular student. Therefore, the IEP provides strategies for helping the students overcome their difficulties by creating an environment where the learners can develop the learning and reading abilities and get the best out of their education just like their normal counterparts (Sadler & Sugai, 2009). As such, An IEP is a teaching and learning plan that stipulates the specific targets and actions customized for each student as well as additional actions that will let the student participate with the other classmates in order to enhance inclusiveness. However, the IEP is not a legal document; hence the individuals in charge of SEN do not have to prepare it. Nevertheless, it is a useful tool in managing children with SEN.
The main important aspect of inclusion and integration of ESL learners with particular disabilities such as dyslexia is the role of the class teacher. . Essentially, inclusion entails providing additional help to the students and creating a good environment where these children can be treated like other normal children. The class teacher and other special need specialists such as SENCOs (Special Educational Needs Coordinators) have to be involved in providing additional support to students with special needs by liaising with their families, teachers, and other professionals in order to provide a good environment for them to get positive educational outcomes (Van do Pol, Volman, and Beishuizen, 2010).
The student, Antonio Salvador, is an immigrant from Mexico trying to learn English as his second language in order to fit into the US community and go through the American education system successfully. He is an eleven-year-old student recently admitted to the school. His first language is Spanish, in which he is able to communicate fluently and express himself with other learners who understand the language. Under normal conditions, the student would be placed in the fifth grade at this age. However, his lack of comprehension of the English language demands that he first go through elementary school in order to grasp the language. He student has about five years experience of formal schooling after attending school in Mexico before the family recently moved to the US.
However, a close examination if the student revealed that he had difficulties in learning, even within his first language, Spanish. Particularly, he had difficulties in reading comprehension. This condition could be described as dyslexia since the student not able to read effectively and comprehend passages. As such, the student qualifies to be classified as a student with learning disability. Consequently, integrating such a learner in the mainstream curriculum requires a lot of focus on his special needs and developing relevant strategies.
Besides, he appears to be emotionally disturbed due to his frequent changes in behavior when relating to others. He appears to be violent at some times. He has a characteristic hot temper that prompts him to react violently when provoked. Nevertheless, when he is not provoked, he appears to interact well with others. Therefore, given these behavioral attributes of the student, it is increasingly difficult for him to fit into the classroom with other students.
Sadler, C. & Sugai, G. (2009)., Effective behavior and instructional support: A district model for early identification and prevention of reading and behavior problems. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 11(1), 35-46.
Hallett, F. and Hallett, G. 2010. Transforming the Role of the SENCO: Achieving the National Award for SEN Coordination (2010) Abingdon: The Open University Press.
Van do Pol, J., Volman, M. and Beishuizen, J. 2010. Scaffolding in teacher-student interaction: A decade of research. Educational Psychology Review, 22 (3). pp. 271-296.
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