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Secondary ESL

The Unique Challenge of High School ELLs

By Caia Schlessinger

T eaching English language learners at the high school level is definitely a unique challenge. Not only do students need to master the English language, but they have to worry about the HSPA, the AHSA, end-of-course exams, fulfilling graduation requirements, and postsecondary planning. In the past couple of weeks, many NJTESOL/NJBE members have posted questions to the Hotlist asking for clarifications on fulfilling graduation requirements and program structure. I would like to address these questions and provide you with links to the information.

First of all, every ESL and bilingual teacher should have a copy of the New Jersey Bilingual Education Code that directs our programs from amount of instructional time to curriculum. Here is a quote from page 7 of the Code: “The district board of education shall establish an ESL program that provides up to two periods of ESL instruction based on student language proficiency whenever there are 10 or more LEP students enrolled within the schools of the district.” Please take the time to read the Code. It contains important information regarding ESL programs in our state. You can find a copy of the Code at the following link: http://www.state.nj.us/education/code/current/title6a/chap15.pdf

Also, I have received some emails asking if an ESL teacher can provide high school students with instruction in Language Arts and have those credits count toward graduation. An ESL teacher does not need to be certified in Language Arts Literacy in order to teach an ESL class that can satisfy New Jersey’s Language Arts Literacy graduation requirement. An ESL teacher can teach a replacement Language Arts Literacy class for his or her ELLs. Please refer to the following link for more information: http://www.nj.gov/education/grants/nclb/guidance/esl.htm

Another member asked about ELLs and the five credit world language requirement for high school students. There are several options for ELLs to fulfill this requirement. ELLs may choose to study any world language in addition to English or through further study of their native or heritage language, even if that language is not offered in the students’ school district. Another option for students who have been speaking their native language from a young age is to take a district proficiency test to earn the five credits. And finally, an ELL can take an additional ESL or English class to fulfill the world language requirement. However, this class must be in addition to the students’ replacement Language Arts class. Please refer to the following link for more detailed information: http://www.state.nj.us/education/aps/cccs/wl/guide.htm#II4

I know that spring seems so far away, but please consider submitting a proposal to present [a workshop or poster session] at the NJTESOL/NJBE Spring Conference on May 30th and 31st, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick. Proposals [for workshops] should address our conference theme: Success for ELLs Across the Curriculum. You can submit your proposal online by October 31st, 2011 at the following link: http://www.njtesol-njbe.org/spring-conference/CFW12.htm

NJTESOL/NJBE has a wonderful opportunity to help your ELLs with the financial difficulties of postsecondary school planning. Every year, NJTESOL/NJBE offers the Pedro J. Rodriguez High School Scholarship in the amount of $1,500 to a student who is, or has been, enrolled in ESL or bilingual classes at the secondary level. Please keep an eye on the Hotlist for a link to the application.

Caia Schlessinger is the NJTESOL/NJBE Secondary ESL Representative. She teaches ESL at Colt Neck High School for the Freehold Regional High School District. She may be reached at cschlessinger@njtesol-njbe.org