Posted by: ghannaml | December 2, 2008

Number of ESL Students Growing Locally

In Muncie, Indiana, the number of ESL students at Northview elementary school continues to increase. The ESL teacher at the school, Karen McKinney, uses new and different techniques to engage their students into learning.

McKinney repeats things often, sings lots of songs, and uses gestures, cards and books to teach her students. “You engage the child,” McKinney said. “You really want that language to become a part of them and make it comprehensible and real.”

They do things such as cook using a cook book that has lot’s of descriptive words, for example, “a plump red tomato” or a “juicy orange carrot.”

Speaking from experience, I know that it is activities like this that students learn from the most. In my high school French class, we always used songs to learn the conjugations of verbs and other things and until today, I use those songs when I am stuck. Things like music and videos are both entertaining and fun for the students, and they help them learn the language.

Northview has ESL students from many different countries and speaking about 10 different languages, including Hindi, Vietnamese, Spanish, and French among others. Since music is a universal language, it appeals to all of these students from their different backgrounds to help them learn English.

Number of ESL Students Growing Locally

The Star Press

November 30, 2008


Full Article

Posted by: ghannaml | December 1, 2008

Certification for teaching 2nd language under debate

Should teachers of English language learners have ESL certification? That is the argument in Indiana. Many ESL teachers both in Indiana and other states do not have the proper certification to teach ESL, but does that mean they wouldn’t make good teachers? Jeanne Taylor, a teacher at Franke Park elementary school in Indiana has spent 30 years traveling around the world and teaching English to non-English speakers. She does not have ESL certification.

And she’s in the majority. Most of the teachers in Indiana assigned to teach English as a New Language do not hold a certification in the subject, according to data provided by the Indiana Department of Education and local school districts.

In my opinion when someone has that kind of experience, certification should not be a problem. Learning from experience is just as good if not better than learning in a classroom. Some people disagree.

“I think it’s important that teachers who teach their subject areas be licensed in that area,” said April Steury, English as a Second Language coordinator for East Allen County Schools, who is certified.

Personally, I also believe that every teacher should have take a class on how to teach ELL students. No matter what they are teaching, most teachers will have at least one ELL student in their classroom and they should know how to teach them effectively.

Certification for teaching 2nd language under debate

Journal Gazette

November 23, 2008 

Full Article

Full Article


President-elect, Barack Obama, believes it necessary for children to speak Spanish. One fun way for them to learn is through Boca Beth. Boca Beth is a free bilingual program on the Education Channel that is both entertaining and will help children learn the language. Lucy Griggs, the program director for the Education Channel explains:

Boca Beth’s music videos and vignettes offer our youngest viewers a fun, interactive introduction to another language (Spanish or English) while they watch a cute puppet and some adorable children sing, dance and have fun. It’s such a simple, friendly and easy way to help children acquire new language skills.

I have a cousin who is only three years old and speaks both English and Arabic perfectly (as well as a three-year-old can speak) from being exposed to them evenly. His parents speak Arabic at home so that he doesn’t lose his first language and he learns English from watching children’s programs on T.V. He’s also picked up some Spanish and Chinese from shows like Dora the Explorer and Ni Hao, Kai-Lan.

I think that, although it may not be the best way, T.V is definitely a way for children to learn new languages. They are entertained, not sitting bored in a classroom, and are learning through doing something they enjoy. I believe the Boca Beth program will appeal to many parents who would like their children to learn Spanish and it will appeal to the children as well.

Gratis Bilingual Children’s Programming Available to TV Stations Nationwide — Program Creator Answers Obama’s Plea to Teach Kids Spanish

P.R. Web Press Release Newswire

November 25, 2008



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Columbia Public school district in Colombia, MO is seeing a large increase in English language learners in its schools. District coordinator of the ELL and social studies programs, Jenifer Albright-Borts, said that the number of ELL students has increased from 138 to 618 students since she started working there in July.
This increase is good for the diversity in the district but is tough on teachers. Many of them do not have enough space and resources for their students. Some of the schools have too many students for one teacher. Other schools do not even have an ESL program. One ESL teacher found a good way to manage her time and keep a low student-teacher ratio with the help of the school principal.


Pedrazas is the only ELL teacher at Field Elementary, yet the school has managed to keep a low student-teacher ratio because of a program called Interventions that was developed by the school’s principal, Carol Garman. The program allows ELL students to stay in the traditional classroom; when the rest of the students go to daily reading and writing programs, ELL students meet with their ELL teacher.

Through this program, the teacher has time to work with the ELL students without taking time away from her other students.

All over the U.S. there are more and more ELL students attending schools. Programs similar to Interventions would help these students, especially in those schools who don’t have the teachers and resources necessary for a full ESL program.

Columbia Public Schools Sees Increase In Number of English Language Learners

Columbia Missourian

November 22, 2008

Posted by: ghannaml | October 20, 2008

Underground Railroad

For my professional development conference, I decided to go to the Underground Railroad Conference at GVSU.  I saw two speakers—Kimberly Simmons and Christopher Paul Curtis. Both speakers were completely different than the other but I really enjoyed them both.

Kimberly Simmons is a descendent of Caroline Quarlls. She began by asking how much we actually knew about the Underground Railroad. She would mention a name and ask us to raise our hands if we’d heard of that person. Doing that, she made us all realize how little we’ve learned about the Underground Railroad. I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t heard of most of the names she mentioned. She didn’t blame us however, but our history teachers who failed to teach us enough about the subject. I think something like the Underground Railroad can be taught in other classes besides history though. For example, an English teacher can teach a novel written about it. Like that it is both interesting and educational.

Simmons continued speaking about her ancestor’s escape. Caroline Quarlls was the first passenger on Wisconsin’s Underground Railroad.  As the daughter of a slave mother and a slave owner father, she served as her aunt’s servant and escaped at age 16. She was helped by several abolitionists make her escape from St. Louis Missouri to Wisconsin. One thing that Kimberly Simmons said was very important when telling stories like this was to tell the truth. She said that you don’t have to “embellish the stories” or change them at all. If the stories are told exactly the way they were, they are interesting, they have integrity and they cannot be challenged. I agree with Simmons 100% and I respect her for keeping the story truthful.

The second speaker I saw was Christopher Paul Curtis. Curtis is a young adult author who has written several books including Elijah of Buxton.   He spent most of the time talking about this novel for which he won a Newberry Honor and a Coretta Scott King Medal. It’s about a young boy, Elijah Freeman, who was the first free-born in Buxton. Curtis wanted to tell a story about slavery that told the truth without any “sugar-coating” but one that was also not frightening for young readers. He did just that with Elijah’s story. As he read an excerpt from the book, I was laughing much of the time, but also learning a lot. These are the types of stories that should be read in English classrooms all over the country because they appeal to young readers and they are very informational. If I do become an English teacher, I would include this story among others in my own classroom.

Posted by: ghannaml | September 23, 2008

Young Dreaming of Living Abroad


According to the BBC, seven out of ten young people would like to live and work abroad some day, but most of them don’t have a second language necessary for that. A group of 560 UK students ranging from age 11 to 18 were interviewed about learning second language and studying abroad. Of them, 58% said that they couldn’t speak a second language, and 71% said they wished they could. The UK, not unlike the US, isn’t doing a very good job teaching children a second language and giving them the opportunities to travel abroad for study and work. As I said in my last blog, having a second language is necessary for our future, and the people of the UK agree.  

“This research is yet more proof that we need to equip today’s youth with the tools to succeed in the international marketplace – which means encouraging all young people to improve their language skills.

Having more young people able to speak a second language is vital to the future success of the UK economy, which is why the government is taking steps to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to learn a language.”

The classroom is the cheapest and most convenient way of learning a second language, however there are so many other opportunities for our students. The students that were interviewed in this survey all dreamed of working abroad but didn’t have a second language. Before working abroad, they could look into studying abroad. Maybe do a student exchange program. That way, they learn a second language much better than they can learn it in a classroom, and they fulfill their dreams of going abroad. After learning the language and completing their education, they could then return to that country to work and live there if they’d like and they won’t have difficulty with not knowing the language.


Young Dream of Living Abroad

BBC News

August 28, 2008 

Full Article


Posted by: ghannaml | September 23, 2008

A Bilingual Country

I was really excited when I came across this article because it fits perfectly with everything I’m studying. The English language is becoming more and more of a necessity all over the world. It has become almost a universal second language, and countries on all continents are trying to educate their children so that the new generation can speak English and communicate more easily.

France is one country that is doing everything they can to teach their students to speak English.

According to Kim Willsher of the Guardian Weekly, the French government is enforcing strict rules on the learning of the English language.

“Fearful of losing influence, not to mention business, in an increasingly Anglophone world, French children are to be given “intensive” extra-curricular English lessons during the school holidays.”

The goal of the French government is to make all French students bilingual by the time they graduate. Xavier Darcos, France’s education minister said this month that President Sarkozy has given him permission to “make France a bilingual nation” and he will do what is in his power to reach this goal.

I think that France is taking a big step and that other countries should follow in her lead, including the United States. Learning a second language is something all students should consider. Not only is it needed for business and travel, but also, when you go to a foreign country and show the people of that country that you attempted to learn their language, they will have so much more respect for you than if you just expect them to speak English.

The French are doing everything that they can to learn the English language, and we as future educators should do all that we can to influence our students to pick up a second language as well.


French Admit English Deficit Needs Attention

Kim Willsher of the Guardian Weekly

September 19, 2008

Full Article

Posted by: ghannaml | September 10, 2008


I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to use as a topic for my blog. I knew, however, that I wanted something to do with language. So I narrowed it down to two: ESL and bilingual education. I’ve had experience with both…well, sort of.

Although I’ve lived in the US my entire life, before I started school, I didn’t know how to speak very much English. My family spoke all Arabic all the time. I only understood the few words I learned watching shows like Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. My parents’ theory was that I would go to school eventually, and learn English, so they should speak only Arabic to me so that I don’t lose my first language.  That wasn’t a bad idea. I actually read an article in a class last year about a Hispanic family that did the same thing. They only spoke Spanish to their children at home and they learned English at school. It worked; both for that Hispanic family and for my own, although it was a little difficult at first.

When I first started school, I had a hard time. I did have to take some ESL classes for the first few years of elementary school. They helped me a lot and now I am fluent in both English and Arabic. Bilingual education is something I am intrigued by as well. Once my parents saw that I had some trouble my first few years of school, they decided to do something different with my sisters. They spoke to them in both English and Arabic at home, so they learned them both. When they started school, they also had to take a few ESL classes, but they caught on quicker than I did. Although this is not bilingual education in the traditional way, it is some form of it. Teaching the child two languages at once. I think that bilingual education schools are a great thing. These days, and probably even more in the future, I don’t think that speaking one language will be good enough.

So, my focus for my blog this semester will be language. ESL and bilingual education. And because I am a French major, I may throw in some stuff about education in France as well. I know this is a broad topic, but hopefully as the semester continues, I will narrow it down some.

Here are the RSS feeds that I’ve subscribed to:

The eductaion section of the BBC and the NY Times

A google search query for ESL and one for Bilingual Education

A French newspaper–France24

An Ebesco feed for Language Learning

I am still looking for a good blog.

I look forward to reading your blogs and comments and learning more everyday!