English Language Development Futility

This week I’m subbing in an English Language Development (ELD) classroom.  These are the students who don’t know English, and they’re put into this class to learn it.  One of the classes, which I have for two class periods, has 20 students.  I’d say about 6-7 of them really want to learn and the rest are pretty unengaged.  Many of them don’t even understand the questions they’re supposed to be answering about the portion of The Jungle Book we read together yesterday.  In this one class there are several different languages represented.  Four or five speak Farsi, three or four Spanish, a couple Chinese (not sure if they’re the same dialect), and two different kinds of South Asian Indian languages.  There’s an aide who speaks Chinese and some English.  The usual teacher speaks only English.

I’m trying to get the kids to not copy one another’s work, to do what they’re asked, and it almost seems futile.  The ELD 2 class isn’t any better.  There are more students and no aide.  I really don’t see what chance these kids have to succeed.  The ones who want to succeed seem to have some kind of chance – but most of them aren’t really interested in learning English.  I’d like to see some studies or something on the success rates of programs like this because it can’t be high. 

I have each set of students for two periods.  For one period with each class we are watching a movie, which theoretically gives you a break.  But the teacher has chosen The Diary of Anne Frank and The Secret Garden (1940ish) as the movies.  They are both black-and-white and do not engage the students in the least.  I’ve already pre-filled some referral forms, because some heads are going to have to roll today.  I played “whack-a-mole” yesterday trying to get them to quiet down and it was too draining. 

No comments: