Bilingual Students: The Challenges Teachers Face

According to a recent NCTE article, it reported that the National Council for Teachers of English agreed that any English teacher who teaches in a bilingual classroom setting should have professional preparation. If an English teacher is not certified in the field of ESL (English as a second language), then they should work with other teachers who already teach a bilingual education to become more familiar with the program and methods involved.

My experience with bilingual education came when I was a college English professor. I was teaching the second level of English composition and asked for the first writing assignment to be completed within the first week. The assignment was a short essay I asked the students to write about themselves. I received the essays and went home to grade them. To my shock, half of my class could NOT write proper English! I thought it was a fluke so I grabbed the other classes essays, the same thing occurred but this time it was almost the entire class!

I approached my department head and asked him his opinion and approached my classes in the following way. Each student received an index card. On the card I asked them to write their name and contact information; then I asked to tell me what they have trouble with in the English language and what they would like to have me review or teach. I thought I would have received barely any response but the students knew they had trouble and when I prepared my lesson plans, I geared it toward the problems the students shared with me.

This worked out amazing as the “issues” the ESL students faced were kept confidential and when I would teach a short mini lesson about grammar, sentence structure, or punctuation, no one knew who the student was who was having difficulty. Many times, the students who I reviewed the lessons for were not the ones who asked the questions.

Later on in the semester, the students shared with me they had a professor or two who just passed them if they completed the work or an easy “A.” Unfortunately for them I was not that type of professor and they had to really learn to earn their “A.”