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What does the ESL specialist need from me?

Regardless of the program model chosen, the ESL specialist is not the only individual in the school responsible for the language development and academic achievement of ELLs. The sections that follow will provide some beginning strategies that general elementary teachers can use to modify their instruction and assessment to support ELLs in their classrooms. But, in addition to modifying their own instructional practices, elementary content teachers can work collaboratively with the ESL specialist to optimize student learning both in the grade level classroom and in the ESL program.

Communication is one of the most important elements of this collaboration. Communication is most easily facilitated in a team teaching model and most difficult with a pull out model, but it is always important. The ESL specialist cannot align instruction to support content areas without knowledge of what content the grade level classroom is addressing. Providing support in the content areas does not mean that ESL specialists should take responsibility for explaining all assignments and correcting all misconceptions for ELLs, but they can help students make connections to prior experience, work to build background knowledge for students, support language development in the content areas, and review difficult concepts. General elementary teachers can facilitate this process by providing unit overviews, content-specific vocabulary, or any other information that the ESL specialists request so students receive the best support in both English language development and academic content learning.

Flexibility is another way to support the ESL specialist. Often there are many ELLs in a school at many different grade levels, and the ESL specialist wants to provide the fullest support for each one. The time ELLs are scheduled to leave your classroom may not be the best time for your schedule. Alternately, in an inclusion model the ESL specialist may not be able to schedule time in your classroom that matches your first preference. Ultimately flexibility in your schedule can ensure that the ESL specialist is not underutilized.

Resource Guide for Working with ESL Students
Who are English Language Learners? What does legislation say about educating and assessing ELLs? The Politics of Language What patterns does English language development typically follow? What are common program models for ESL education? What does the ESL specialist need from me? How can I support ELLs in my classroom? Conclusion Resources Appendix 1: Declaration of Rights for Parents of English Language Learners under No Child Left Behind Appendix 2: Legislation of the 108th Congress concerning Foreign Languages and International Education Appendix 3: Six Levels of Minority Language Policy