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Inquiry - Bilingual, ESL programs

paperairplane's picture

For my inquiry project, I'm interested in researching bilingual education programs and ESL programs. Through externships and Praxis placements, I've been able to observe different classrooms that revolved around a bilingual classroom system. One was in second grade classroom where the students' native language was Spanish and the teacher (who was Latina American and could identify with her students' backgrounds) actively used Spanish in her lessons. Another was in a middle school classroom where the students were primarily Haitian immigrants, and the teacher (of a Caucasian Jewish American background) had knowledge of French but didn't really use it in the classroom, and there appeared to be a large disconnect between her and the students. 

I've always wondered about these programs from different points of view. I just have a lot of questions.

For the students who are in these language programs --- do they feel welcome in the school? Do they feel separated and “different” from the mainstream students, and what happens when they are placed into mainstream classrooms? Do they feel as though their native languages and cultures are respected? Are their programs providing enough support for them? 

For the teachers in these classrooms --- what kind of training and requirements do they pursue before they go down the ESL path, and does this training include preparation for multicultural education? What is it like for teachers who can speak their students' native language vs teacher's who have little or no knowledge of their students' native language? What is it like in classrooms where there are multiple native languages used? What are the challenges that arise from preparation for standardized tests?

For the communities which have schools with large ESL student populations--- what are the types of interactions between these student populations and the larger community? Are there people or organizations(connected to or separate from the schools) that work to serve the ESL student population?


Hummingbird's picture

I saw this article today and

I saw this article today and thought it might be relevant to your research:

paperairplane's picture

This looks really cool! Thank

This looks really cool! Thank you!

jccohen's picture

bilingual and esl programs


First, if you haven't yet taken the course "English Learners in U.S. Schools" you should consider taking it - it addresses these questions!  For the purposes of this inquiry project, you'll want to narrow your focus so that you can delve with some depth into one or a few of these areas.  For example, you might think in terms of a particular age group; look focus on similarities/differences between bilingual and ESL programs (and actually there's also programming somewhere between these); investigate teachers' perspectives or students' perspectives...  If you'd like to talk about how to narrow this down, let me know.  Lots of great possibilities here.