C. English As A Second Language

•AROUND the table they sat: the Russian, the Thai, the Italian, the Chinese and the Spaniard, giggling about their work and speaking in English. It’s a typical scene in Mary Ann Sacks’s English as a Second Language classes at Countrywood Elementary School in Huntington Station, L.I. ”It’s little America sitting here,” said Mrs. Sacks of one class of 7- and 8-year-olds.
•E.S.L., as the classes are called in education circles, provide instruction in speaking and writing English to students who understand or speak little or none. Studies in such classes also often deal with material studied in other subject areas such as arithmetic and science.
•Unlike bilingual programs, however, an E.S.L. class may be attended by students from many foreign-language backgrounds. The instructor teaches in English and often does not speak a child’s first language.
•To compensate for this, E.S.L. teachers, like Mrs. Sacks, are specially trained to use methods and materials designed to aid the non-native speaker. For example, teachers often use word games and rhymes to teach such lessons as parts of the body, terms Englishspeaking children would already know. Teachers are also trained to be sensitive to the customs and cultures of their foreign students, many of whom have survived war-torn countries. ”Some of their stories would make your hair stand on end,” she said. ”Many have never had what we think of as a teacher. They had someone in a classroom who watched to make sure the kids avoided the gunfire outside.”
•To be certified to teach E.S.L., most states require teachers to complete such college courses as linguistics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, counseling and bilingual education. Many teachers continue these studies to earn a master’s degree equivalent in E.S.L.
•Mrs. Sacks, who is certified in E.S.L. and also speaks Spanish, French and Hebrew, has taught the method for eight years. She is the senior member of the five E.S.L. teachers who shuttle among the seven schools, grades kindergarten through 12th grade, in the South Huntington Union Free School District.
•The district’s E.S.L. program is small compared with some in large cities. Of the district’s 6,000 students, about 135, speaking 21 different languages, qualify for the classes. The class at Countrywood, while smaller and able to afford more individual instruction, illustrates the approach used in E.S.L. classes elsewhere.
•With younger children, for instance, who have recently arrived in the United States and are just learning English, Mrs. Sacks begins with rhymes and word games to improve their speaking and comprehension skills, and to increase their self-confidence in the new idiom. Those who know little or no English spend more time in E.S.L. classes in proportion to their                                 subject classes, she said, where they get additional help with both the language and their academic classes.
•The E.S.L. teachers also give teaching aids and suggestions to the subject teachers of a child whose English is very weak.
•Before Halloween the children cut out paper skeletons, giving Mrs. Sacks an opportunity to teach them the verbs associated with the activity, such as bending, folding, cutting, stapling and pasting. She also taught them the names of body parts.
•In intermediate grades Mrs. Sacks drills students on grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation using state textbooks, a manual she wrote and tape recordings. She integrates the exercises with lessons in American culture and history. Students of high-school age receive special career guidance and college preparatory help.
•Grade-schoolers receive about 30 minutes of E.S.L. instruction every day. Older students may receive 45 minutes daily. Depending on their progress, some children may spend more time each day in their E.S.L. class.
Thanks for the report.

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