Answers to Quirky Questions
new student that comes into a NYS school must have his/her parents fill
out a Home Language Questionnaire. If a language other than English is
spoken at home, then students
be tested to see what their level of English proficiency is. If they score
at or below the 40th percentile on a standardized test of
English reading, they are considered LEP.
a LEP student can score above the 40th percentile, then at
least they will have a fighting chance in mainstream classrooms. Yes,
there are English proficient students who score below this, but they are
also eligible for additional services to help them improve their reading
students are tested every Spring to see if they have reached or surpassed
the 40th percentile on a standardized reading test in English.
must be identified in order to receive the language support that they
1994 – 1995, the top five languages most frequently used by LEP
students, other than English, were: Spanish, Chinese, Russian,
Haitian-Creole, and Korean (the NYS Education Department Office of
majority of LEP students entering elementary school are in Kindergarten,
first, and second grade. The majority of LEP students entering high
schools are found in the ninth and tenth grades (the NYS Education
Department Office of Bilingual Education).
though Spanish speakers make up the majority of the LEP population in NYS,
as well as the largest percentage of students in NYC, many Hispanic
students are not LEP. In fact, many Hispanic students don’t even speak
Spanish (the NYS Education Department Office of Bilingual Education).
are not immigration officials. Their role is to educate and not
discriminate. Also, wouldn’t you rather pay now and save later on
remedial education and social services?
The school administration should only ask for three things from a new student: a birth certificate to prove his/her age, some sort of proof of residency in the community, and proof of immunization. Every child has a right to an education according to a Supreme Court decision known as Plyler vs. Doe, [457 U.S. 202 (1982)].
All students are important and need to feel accepted into the classroom culture. Ask students to give presentations about their native countries so all students can learn about and appreciate each other.
course, you should treat them with equality, but it is important to
show respect for their cultures and values too, while at the same time
making them feel accepted.
polite way to address a teacher varies greatly from culture to culture.
Perhaps it is her/his sign of respect to not look directly at you.
it helps their learning process because literacy skills, for example,
transfer between languages. Also, if an LEP student doesn’t understand
directions in English, a more proficient student can explain it in the
student’s native language, which will save time for the teacher.
Actually, there are several different cultures within the broad title of "Hispanic". Puerto Rican students, for example, may act very differently from Mexican students or students from Colombia, Spain, Cuba, Costa Rica, or other Spanish speaking countries. The same holds true for students from other countries as well. For example, the term "Asian" does not adequately describe the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, and other cultures found in that part of the world.
stands for English as a Second Language. The most widely used form of ESL
is ESL pull-out. This means the child goes to English classes during
certain times of the day, to learn and strengthen his/her English language
skills, and is in the regular classroom the rest of the day.
course English is the first language in this country. It means that
English is the second (or maybe the third or fourth) language that this
person is learning.
do we need any other teachers? ESL teachers are specially trained and
certified in order to help LEP students learn English as fast as they can
so they can fully participate in school.
they are learning skills that will help them to function in the
mainstream classroom in the future, and you and I should be working
together in order to best help the students.
depends if the school the student is attending offers bilingual education
programs; many only offer ESL. Bilingual programs are generally required
in NYS only when there are twenty or more LEP students in the same
building, in the same class, who speak the same language
other than English.
proficient students at this age know a lot of things and they are learning
new things every day. They have also had four years of English language
development before coming to kindergarten. LEP students have a lot of
catching up to do.
group your students by ability levels; or have them work in pairs,
grouping more advanced students with beginning level students.
New York State, bilingual education means that classes are being taught both
in English and the students’ native languages, not necessarily limited
Education programs are conducted in 31 of the 32 Community School
Districts in New York City. There are also bilingual education programs in
Yonkers, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Newburgh, and some larger districts
on Long Island and the Westchester/Mid-Hudson region. All other programs
are ESL only.
required by law and regulation, students are learning English in bilingual
education programs, that’s why it’s called Bilingual.
general goal of bilingual education programs is to maintain the
students’ native languages and build upon them, while, at the same time,
developing their English skills.
New York State, students can’t be in bilingual programs any longer than
six years. You may have seen some students in bilingual programs at the
high school level, but you should realize that they might be recent
arrivals to the U.S.
is a big difference between the English children speak on the playground
and the English they will have to use in school. Academic language takes
much longer to learn than informal, conversational English.
a child into a bilingual education program won’t slow him/her down. If
anything, it exposes the child to another culture and language.
to New York State regulations, parents have the option to withdraw their
child from a bilingual education program. However, they must keep their
child in ESL until he/she is no longer LEP.
there are more than 125 languages spoken by LEP students in NYS. You’re
right though – it would be crazy if teachers had to learn all of them!
However, bilingual education programs only exist in a few languages. ESL
teachers, on the other hand, are not required to know and use the
students’ native languages.
grouping same language children for instructional purposes need not
prevent their integration with native English speakers. In fact, they must
be integrated with their English proficient peers for classes such as art,
music, and physical education.
should be getting help elsewhere, however they also need the
information that is being taught in the mainstream classes – they are
members of the school system.
should place these students in the middle of the room so they can be
involved in class discussions, and are able to hear and see visuals
not always necessary to slow down. You might want to give directions more
clearly and write them as you say them, repeat your main points, define
vocabulary in context, provide a lot of visuals, create a buddy system
(non-native speaker of English paired with a native-speaker of English),
and keep a consistent schedule.
students can provide a unique perspective on the current curriculum by
sharing their own personal experiences and cultural backgrounds.
Actually, both Science and Math are language bound, despite their greater use of non-verbal symbols. For example, consider lengthy word problems on mathematics tests.
LEP students first arrive in a school in the United States, they may not
be able to make themselves understood in even the most basic situations,
due to culture shock and lack of English language skills. Therefore, it is
important for teachers and school administrators to understand that the
LEP students are students in transition, with their own unique
order to best help them, we must consider all aspects of the LEP
students’ backgrounds. This may include researching their previous
education in order to see where they may have prior knowledge and/or gaps
in their schooling.
promoting reading in both languages and by having a print-rich environment
in the classroom. This can include shopping lists, classroom rules in
different languages, and a multicultural library. Also, you can read more
to your LEP students and have them read to you, their classmates, and/or
work may be very "foreign" to them. In their own cultures, they
may be used to the teacher doing all of the talking while the students
take notes. You should take special interest in acquiring background
knowledge of how your LEP students were taught in their native countries.
you use methods such as Cooperative Learning, each student will be
assigned a role in which he/she will be able to actively participate in
districts could share a part-time certified ESL teacher with another
school district. Or, they can use a traveling BOCES teacher who might be
able to provide individual or group instruction to these students.
is possible, but the ESL teacher is best qualified and has been trained in
the specifics of English linguistics. He/she has studied how students
learn languages and knows best how to teach students who do not have
communicative and linguistic competence in English.
paraprofessionals who know about the cultures and languages of LEP
students, and who are proficient in English, can be employed to assist
teachers in an ESL program. For example, they could be in charge of small
reading groups or one-on-one extra help sessions.
students should be encouraged to develop their potential in the same way
as English proficient students.
the student is identified as being both LEP and in need of Special
Education services, and has been tested by a bilingual psychologist who is
fluent in the child’s native language, State regulations require that
both services must be provided. (For further information, refer to CR
A fair, non-biased psychological evaluation of an LEP student is best done by a certified school psychologist who is competent in the language and culture of the student. If this is not possible, the psychologist should be assisted by a translator who is familiar with the student’s culture and language.
LEP students are not exempt from NYS higher standards, which is why
they desperately need even more of the support services that are currently
offered to them.
LEP students are expected to do equally as well as native speakers of
English. We can help them achieve success by integrating content areas
with second language support, including extra time spent with them after
school, on weekends, and during the summer.
and some LEP students may need additional time in high school to prepare,
especially if they haven’t had many years of schooling. This is a new
requirement that will be phased in in 1999.
student can take the exams over until he/she passes them.
students are in ESL because they need language support. Often times, they
seem to speak English well, but they are not ready to take exams that
contain difficult, academic language.
likely if they can pass the English Regents, they’re already proficient
in English. However, they may not have learned the appropriate academic
language for other Regents exams.
the tests are for the purpose of demonstrating knowledge of the content
New York State Regulations (Commissioner’s Regulations part-154) require
that all LEP students be tested every spring to evaluate their needs and
progress, to determine whether or not they have reached the 40th
percentile on a standardized test of reading in English, and to plan their
placement for the following school year.
home weekly or monthly packets of students’ work for parents to review,
invite parents to come in and work on special projects with their
children, and encourage parents to be reading partners with their
meetings at several different times and days of the week, or send out a
survey in the native language which asks which times they are available to
come in to the school.
other cultures, parents may not be expected or welcomed into their
children’s schools unless the child is in trouble. Have meetings that
focus on the positive aspects of the student’s behavior.
can find someone in the building or in the community to serve as a
translator. Or, you can schedule a meeting close to where the parents
live, for example, in a church or in a library. Just keep trying!
free babysitting services using volunteers and arranging for
transportation, are good ways to promote parental involvement.
might try "ice-breaker" activities and/or social functions such
as sharing ethnic foods and entertainment as part of the meetings.
NOTE: Questions 1 – 5 are adapted from:
Crawford, James. BEST EVIDENCE: Research Foundations of the Bilingual Education Act. Washington, DC: The National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education, 1997.
fact, 97% of the U.S. population speaks English, therefore, English is still
the primary language. Many LEP adults are on long waiting lists for ESL
classes. They want to learn English.
may seem like common sense, but if the child doesn’t understand anything
that the teacher is saying, then the information will go in one ear and out
the other with no comprehension and little learning taking place.
may seem possible, but older learners learn at a different level and rate
than young children do. Older learners can use prior school knowledge that
they may have had to help them with their learning, whereas young children
lack the background of experience.
of the past immigrants have faced a very different socioeconomic situation
than today. There was a wider variety of jobs that did not require a high
level of English proficiency. Also, your grandfather may have been an
exception; many immigrants struggled a great deal to learn English, and some
Perhaps those parents do not understand the principles of bilingual education. Good bilingual programs look to cultivate proficiency in both languages. Developing proficiency in the first language is the best way to develop it in the second language.
New York State Education Department website provides information on NYS
standards, the Board of Regents, teacher certifications, State tests, etc.
Week is a site devoted to bilingual education. It successfully breaks down
terms, presents articles on related bilingual education issues, and provides
the user with names of organizations related to the field. Related web sites
are also provided, in addition to suggested books for background reading.
National Association for Bilingual Education is the only national
organization exclusively concerned with the education of language minority
students. On the site, discover information that deals with the political
arena surrounding bilingual education, while gaining access to legislation,
policy, and press releases sent out by NABE.
National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education addresses critical issues
pertaining to the education of linguistically and culturally diverse
students in the United States.
particular site is concerned with the promotion of bilingual education
through background information, recent news on bilingual education, and
funding opportunities related to bilingual education.
homepage of TESOL, with almost 18,000 members worldwide, enhances
communication between language specialists, while providing services from
advocacy to career planning to updates on the latest standards.
site whereby teachers on the information highway can quickly drop in and
download ready to use materials.
website offers links and resources for ESL teachers that cover lesson plans,
thematic units, address books for contacting other teachers, and other
Virtual English Language Center created a site whereby students, teachers,
and speakers of English from around the world can have online access to
relevant materials, services, and products.
ESL Cafe contains a discussion center, a job center, a variety of lesson
ideas, as well as answers to frequently asked questions concerning ESL.
ESL Web Guide contains 1293 listings by Dave Sperling pertaining to ESL and
clearinghouse's site provides a wide range of services and materials for
language educators – digests, short bibliographies, newsletters, and a
question and answer service.
This New York State website provides general information about bilingual education and ESL in New York State.
Education Web Sites provides links to virtually every area of education, including Bilingual Education, Multicultural Education, and ESL.
OF LEP STUDENTS