myTESOL Lounge

 View Only
  • 1.  Definition of an ESL student for catalogue purposes in a community college

    Posted 17-02-2022 02:38 PM
    I was wondering if anyone's institution has a working definition of "ESL student"? More specifically, this is for a community college. Issues at hand we are looking at are Primary or Home Language Other Than English, length of K-12 education in US public schools (including high school graduation), self-identification as an ESL student, and parental pressure to take ESL classes.

    Please forgive me ahead of time for being rather vague.

    Thanks in advance

    ------------------------------
    Michael Beamer
    Assistant Professor
    J Sargeant Reynolds Community College
    United States
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Definition of an ESL student for catalogue purposes in a community college

    Posted 17-02-2022 03:03 PM
    I believe it is a function of the language spoken in the home where the child was raised.  Regardless of time in the US, the child's preferred communication language, or any other variables, at least for K-12 the only thing that matters is the language spoken in the home they were raised.   For Community College or other higher education, I think it would be phrased as "What was the language spoken in the home where you were raised."  Whether the student just came to the US from a non-English speaking country or was born/raised in the US in a non-English speaking household doesn't matter.  If the language spoken in the home was NOT English, then they are eligible for ESL.

    NB - I believe I am in the same state as the original poster (Virginia). At least in my county, there is significant parental pressure NOT to be in ESL classes. I have known of several parents who say English is spoken in the home, even when it is not.

    ------------------------------
    Allison Widmann
    ESL Teacher
    Language and Literacy, LLC
    United States
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Definition of an ESL student for catalogue purposes in a community college

    Posted 18-02-2022 07:10 AM
    Edited by Eloise O'Neal 18-02-2022 07:11 AM
    I would totally agree with you, Allison. I had a parent call me recently to say her child was only identified as ESL because of his last name. Of course this is not the case, but she regarded his placement as a racial prejudice. She wanted to refuse services, which of course she can. Sadly the student will need to continue taking the Access test in order to exit the program, even though his mother feels he was wrongly placed. I wonder if parents should have more say in initial placement, as some would prefer to opt out, if they were given the choice.

    ------------------------------
    Eloise O'Neal
    ESL Teacher
    Jessamine County Schools, KYTESOL
    United States
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Definition of an ESL student for catalogue purposes in a community college

    Posted 18-02-2022 08:52 AM
    Hi Eloise,


    ------------------------------
    Allison Widmann
    ESL Teacher
    Language and Literacy, LLC
    United States
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Definition of an ESL student for catalogue purposes in a community college

    Posted 18-02-2022 08:54 AM
    Sorry, I hit send on my previous message before completing it.

    In Virginia, parents can opt out of ESL.  It is not a mandated course, like Special Ed.  In both cases, if a parent does not want their child to receive services, and documents same, the child does not receive services.

    ------------------------------
    Allison Widmann
    ESL Teacher
    Language and Literacy, LLC
    United States
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Definition of an ESL student for catalogue purposes in a community college

    Posted 18-02-2022 10:32 AM
    On 2022/02/17 at 07:38pm, Michael Beamer via TESOL International Association wrote:

    > I was wondering if anyone's institution has a working definition of
    > "ESL student"? More specifically, this is for a community
    > college. Issues at hand we are looking at are Primary or Home Language
    > Other Than English, length of K-12 education in US public schools
    > (including high school graduation), self-identification as an ESL
    > student, and parental pressure to take ESL classes.

    My main job is ESOL coordinator for a small k-12 public district. I also
    work as an instructor in a non-credit ESL program at a local community
    college. The college also has for-credit ESL courses.

    At the community college, I'm honestly not sure if there is an official
    definition of an English Learner. All students, as I understand it, must
    take an English (as in ELA) test in order to take credit classes at the
    college. I believe that students who speak more than one language who
    score especially poorly are pointed to the non-credit program. Students
    who score higher but not high enough may be offered credit ESL
    classes. The goal of the non-credit program is to prepare students to
    take credit classes.

    Of course, I'm not in a position to see the gray-area cases - students
    who are good enough at English to not need ESL classes, but who are not
    scoring high enough to get into the college. I imagine there are English
    Learners as well as English native speakers in this category.

    Regarding your list of issues - I've had some students graduate
    high school who are still in need of ESL classes. They used alternate
    pathways to graduate, because their English was not good enough to pass
    the required state exams.

    I've also had high school students who take university courses (real
    ones, on a university campus) while still officially high school
    students, who could not pass the state test to place out of ESL
    services.

    Point is just that there are a lot of situations wrt state-controlled
    high school things like graduation, grades, and ESL services.

    For identifying English Learners, at k-12 we use state mandated
    "Language Usage Surveys" with incoming students to determine need to
    test for ESL services. In line with what others have already mentioned,
    the main questions are:

    1) What was the first language the student learned?

    2) What language is used most in the home?

    If either of those is not English, we will have the student do a
    diagnostic test. If the test results indicate the student is not
    "proficient", then the student is classified an English Learner, and the
    school will offer services.

    Parents can refuse services for their student, but they cannot opt-out
    of the English Learner classification after the student takes the
    diagnostic test. ALL English Learners must take an "end of the year"
    test (in February, but whatever). That test determines if the learner
    will place out of services. Parents can opt their students out of the
    test, but we really try to encourage them not to.

    We sometimes have problems with students who place out of ESL services
    in like 4th grade of elementary school, and then when they are high
    school students, they are struggling mightily with the demands of the
    academic English. But, they placed out, so no longer English
    Learners. (Luckily, Ohio has recently recognized this issue and made
    allowances for re-classifying students.)

    As others mentioned, I have seen surveys that said "English" for
    everything (including for "what country was your student born in?"), and
    yet the student clearly spoke a language in addition to English. If
    teachers report language difficulties, if the student tells us they
    speak another language, or if we call home and discover we need an
    interpreter, I'll send a "we'd like to test your student" letter home.

    Sorry for the long post. I hope this is helpful. Personally, I think the
    most effective way to identify English Learners at the community college
    level is maybe:

    1) Is English your first and primary language?

    Yes: you are not an English learner

    No: please do this diagnostic test, so we can have an idea of your
    current English level and recommend the best courses for you.

    Maybe factor in things like previous English-language college classes or
    industry credentials, but I wouldn't depend on things like high school
    graduation or placing out of services in k-12.

    --
    Chris Spackman (he / him)

    ESL Coordinator, The Graham Family of Schools
    ESL Educator, Columbus State Community College

    Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (Wajima, Ishikawa 1995-1998)
    Linux user since 1998
    Linux User #137532




  • 7.  RE: Definition of an ESL student for catalogue purposes in a community college

    Posted 18-02-2022 11:18 AM
    At the community college I recently retired from, we asked students the following questions to identify which students would take the ESL test. What language did you first learn to speak? Which language did you first learn to read and write in? In what grade did you begin going to school in the United States? Depending on the answers to these questions, students either then would take the ESL test or the English test. If they got a high enough score on the ESL test, they would not need to take ESL classes. Recently there has been a trend to not use placement exams at the community college which has presented issues for ESL programs at the community college. I do not recommend asking community college students what language their family uses at home because by this point multilingual students are probably using at least two languages at home. I also feel some students feel a sort of stigma that they have immigrant parents, so I do not like making them feel that even more with the home language question. If I had to choose just one question, it would probably be length of time in school in the US or another English-medium school.

    ------------------------------
    Theresa Pruett-Said
    Macomb Community College
    United States[Warren][Michigan]
    ------------------------------