Learning English: Diverse Students in American Classrooms
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Learning English: Diverse Students in American Classrooms

[ Mid-tempo music plays ] ♪♪ [ Indistinct conversations ] -Nearly 4.5 million students in America’s
public school system are learning English
as a new language. And experts predict that number
will continue to climb. -In all of my classrooms
combined, there’s 24 different countries
represented and probably 30-plus languages. -Immigrants… refugees from other countries… children born in the U.S. to parents who speak languages
other than English at home — whatever the circumstances, children who
need to learn English now make up roughly one in 10 public-school students
nationwide. -It’s called…
-Finger space. -Many of these English learners score lower
on standardized tests, experience higher dropout rates, and have lower graduation rates than native
English-Speaking students. That means our country faces
a crucial educational challenge. How do we teach English learners the language
and the academic content they need to succeed, so they can fuel the workforce and contribute to
our country’s economic growth? -Typically, the approach to integrating immigrant English
learners in the classroom is, “Take
a few English learners, put them in a mainstream
general-ed classroom, and they’ll just sink or swim.” But, unfortunately,
it does not work for the majority of students. -Newcomer programs, dual-language programs, and sheltered instruction are
three evidence-based approaches to teach English and
academic content simultaneously. Over the next half-hour,
hear from research experts about how these teaching methods help all students
succeed in school. And see examples of
these strategies at work in the Cleveland
Metropolitan School District. -We should all care about English-language
learner education. We really all benefit
when everyone is successful. ♪♪ [ Indistinct conversations ] -Look. This is my friend.
Her name is Sarah. What’s your name? Can you tell me your name? Look, her name is Sarah.
My name is Jen. And what’s your name? No? Okay, so, your name
is Muhammad, right? Is that your name? Okay. “Father.” -“Father.” -“Mother.” -It’s intimidating,
even disorienting, not to know the language,
isn’t it? Now, imagine having to learn
that new language and also having to learn
academic content in science, math,
social studies. And that’s all taught
in an unfamiliar language, too. -Say it. “Boy.”
-[ Speaks indistinctly ] I can’t hear you.
Say “boy.” -“Boy.”
-“Boy.” Very good. -This is the challenging world
of English learners — the official term given
to the diverse students who enter school with limited
ability to speak English. 7-year-old Muhammad
is a prime example. He’s part of a refugee family recently arrived
from Afghanistan. [ Baby crying ] -Lots of people actually think that you can put children who are English learners
in a class and just immerse them
in a second language. You can’t just put them
in a classroom where the language spoken
is English. You really need to provide them
with the supports they need to understand what it is
the content is about. English learners are
the fastest-growing population of students
in public schools nationwide. -We have about 47
languages and dialects that are being spoken
right now in the Cleveland Metropolitan
School District. Hi, how are you? Good. I’m glad. Every English learner here
starts the enrollment process at the Multilingual
Multicultural Education Office. The staff assesses the student’s
language abilities, and they continue to provide
academic support, once the child starts school. -[ Speaking Spanish ] -The most important aspect of our intake
and enrollment process is having the family
feel welcome. How are you? As soon as families have
that connection, they begin to be more at ease. -80% of English learners in the Cleveland
Metropolitan School District are Spanish-speaking. Many of those students
were born in the United States. Another 10% are refugees. And the rest, immigrants. -[ Speaking Spanish ] -English learners are 10%
of the U.S. population, and they’re not doing as well
in school as children who are
English-proficient. -Across the country, only 62% of English learners
graduate from high school. By law, English learners
in the U.S. must be given support
for second-language acquisition. The major federal law is called the Every Student Succeeds Act. It was passed in 2015,
and one of its requirements says districts must use
effective practices backed by scientific evidence. -Time flies
when you’re having fun. -In this field, there is
much more limited research. So, in areas that look
at literacy development, in areas that look at
math knowledge and acquisition, in studies that look at science, When you’re looking at specific
instructional practices, we really need more work
in this area. But we do know something. Some of these are things
that work well for all kids, like strong leadership,
like small-group instruction, like using data
to monitor progress, and intervening. Some of these things
are specific to English learners, which is knowing how to
differentiate instruction, giving kids opportunity
to interact with native speakers
who are proficient in the language
these kids are acquiring. -One practice is
to teach students English, but to do it through the
teaching of academic content. It’s called
content-based instruction. That’s a departure
from traditional English-as-a-second-language
instruction, which focuses more
on grammar and vocabulary. -What you try to do is
make sure that the kids are getting access
to grade-level content but provide the kinds
of support they need to be able to understand
what that content is. -To achieve that,
Cleveland Metropolitan schools are using a range of research-based
instructional methods, including newcomer programs,
sheltered instruction… -What does the soil
provide the roots? -…and dual-language programs. -[ Speaking Spanish ] -I’ll see you tomorrow.
Okay? [ Chuckles ] -It’s all part of
committed educators’ efforts to deliver
high-quality instruction to this growing population
of students in need. ♪♪ At Thomas Jefferson
International Newcomers Academy, the students here have been
in the United States for less than two years. More than half of the newcomers
in this particular school are refugees. The rest are U.S. citizens
from Puerto Rico or immigrants
from other countries. And they arrived with little to no
English-language skills. -[ Speaking native language ] -Typically, the approach
to integrating immigrant English learners
in the classroom is, “Take
a few English learners, put them in a mainstream
general-ed classroom, and they’ll just sink or swim.” But, unfortunately,
it does not work for the majority of students. We hear from many students
that we talk to that they feel stupid. They say, “I always feel like the American students
are smarter than me.” -What’s a metaphor? -A classroom designed
especially for newcomers reduces anxiety
and creates confidence. -“We’re all learning English. We all have an accent.
Nobody’s making fun of us.” And it’s a shared community, and it’s a community
of shared purpose. -At Thomas Jefferson,
lessons are delivered using a practice called
sheltered instruction. -Okay, what word
did you build, Heba? I like the way you built it
fast, fast, fast. Say it again.
-“Pets.” -“Pets.” -They receive
intensive instruction, and lessons
scaffold the information, presenting it
in multiple ways, including simplified language,
visual aids, graphics… -E-N-D. -…and hands-on activities. -When we group immigrant
English learners together, what we see is that because their common
language is English, that’s the language
that they use to communicate. -This newcomers program
also encourages students to use their home languages
for more successful outcomes. -Preventing students
from accessing what they know
in their home language is really not helping them. It means means
that they’re hobbling along without being able to use all the tools
in their toolboxes. -I want to be…
Aw! -A good example occurred
when the students were asked to talk about
their career aspirations. In English, they struggled. -I want to be doctor. When, um… -But when they were able to express their thoughts
in their home languages, they revealed
sophisticated career goals.-Yo quiero ser
un antropólogo forense.
-Gilberto just said he wants to be
a forensic anthropologist. -It’s a proper noun, dude. You found “Don.”
Awesome. -But newcomer schools cope with a whole other level
of complexity. -A lot of our students,
especially our refugee students, come with trauma. Some students
crossed the border themselves. Others have seen people killed.
Maybe family members killed. They have been
sexually molested and other things, so a lot of trauma. -Experts estimate about half of all refugees
are under the age of 18. -We have a student, we’re teaching her
how to write her name. She doesn’t know
how to hold a pencil. Some of them, we have to
teach them hygiene. Others, how to get along
with each other. For example, we have two
different Somalian tribes, and they have
some bickering going on, so we have mediation. We let them know
what our norms are here in America
and that we’re all the same. -Despite this web of challenges, newcomers,
like all other English learners, are required to master
the same academics and pass
the same standardized tests as native English speakers. -And so it’s very important
to see what we can do to really bring
research-based knowledge to bear on educating these children. -[ Speaking indistinctly ] -But sometimes, it begins with
one very important lesson. -They can have a dream. Because some of them come
without dreams. -What was the first step when we talked about
career choices and planning? Yes? -When they get here,
they’re like, “Really? I can be this, I can be a chef,
I can be a lawyer?” We want everybody
to be college-ready. Our mission is like,
“Everybody’s going to college. You’re going to college
if you graduate from here.” They quickly realize, “Wow.
Iamin America,and I can do
whatever I want to do and be whatever I want to be.” ♪♪ -When I grow up,
I’m going to be a veterinarian. -I want to be photographer. -Computer engineer. -My pleasure is to do,
like, medical assistance. -Teacher, to help kids
that don’t know math, reading, like our teacher show us. ♪♪ -And 75.=To help English learners
succeed, teachers need to learn, too,
adopting methods that embed
English-language instruction in the academic lessons. -We, right now, nationwide, have a shortage of teachers
properly endorsed and certified in English-language learning. -“I can determine
story elements.” -But learning those methods
is a challenge for even the most seasoned
teachers. -Orange group
is going to be here. -When I started here,
back in 2010, as a teacher, even though I had 20 years’
experience under my belt, I felt like an ill-prepared,
awkward, brand-new, out-of-college teacher. So, which story element is that? And literally, I would
just go home and cry because I didn’t feel I was
actually doing the best I could to meet the needs
of these students. -Samuel Román works
in the school district’s Multilingual Multicultural
Education Office. He visits teachers
in the classroom regularly to provide coaching — part of the district’s ongoing
professional development for teachers
who serve English learners. Today, he is observing Tracy Finch’s sixth-grade
language-arts class at Thomas Jefferson
International Newcomers Academy. 57% of these students
are refugees. -I have Chinese, Hindi, Swahili,
Arabic, French. There’s a couple of my girls you can’t even find
their language listed on a website. If they are all good,
then you give them your green. Teaching here is
a totally different animal. -The time and place.
-The time and place. -The Cleveland Metropolitan
School District requires all teachers
servicing English learners to also have something
called the TESOL endorsement. -“TESOL” stands for “Teaching English to Speakers
of Other Languages.” I want to caution people
from thinking that modifying a lesson
for an English learner, they might think, “Oh, well, that’s just watering it down,
it’s just dumbing it down.” That is not what we’re
talking about at all, here. We’re using certain routines
and strategies to make it more understandable
and more accessible to the English learner
so that students develop their skills in listening,
speaking, reading, and writing. -[ Speaking Spanish ] -People say,
“Oh, well, you know, my grandfather didn’t need
any special teaching of English. He just picked it up.”
You know? Yeah, but what did he
have to use English for? They weren’t preparing
these immigrant children to be college- and career-ready. The English you need
to work in a factory is a lot different
from the English that you need to be a graphic designer
or a doctor or an engineer. -In the past, many immigrants got by
with conversational English. But to succeed in school
nowadays — and in the demanding workforce
of the future — these students must also acquire
academic English. -Which is
a more sophisticated language with much more challenging
vocabulary. So the way that the language
of math is structured is different from the way the language of social studies
is structured or the way that the language
of science is structured. -This is for-surely good. -In Tracy Finch’s classroom, the students were
working on academic language to analyze literature. -I was looking mostly,
first of all, academic discourse — academic interaction
among the students. How were the students
interacting with the content
of the academic language? And also, I was looking for,
you know, “What is the teacher doing to elicit language
from the students?” -What needs to be fixed?
Talk to each other. -And you can actually
have newcomers speak, using complete sentences
that are basic, but they’re
really rich in content. He has the objectives,
how to do it. -It’s a real challenge,
but it’s a reality of many of our schools
in the United States. -Standards are changing,
laws are changing, and requirements are changing
at the state level. You need to be willing to keep up and
change with that. -You have a good one. Enjoy the rest
of your afternoon. -I think you just have to have
a passion for teaching. -And we’ll see you. -I want to be a doctor. -I want to be a lawyer. -I like working with numbers. My mom is an accountant, too,
so follow her footstep. -After I get done
with high school, I want to be psychologist,
because I like help people. -I want to be a social worker. -When I grow up, I want to be
a doctor that cure cancer, because there’s a lot of people
dying out of cancer and I want to find
a cure for it. ♪♪ -Come on. Hop right through. Part of the base. Good. -We have a large
English-language learner population at Clark school. When you walk
into a classroom, it’s not going to look
any different than a suburban classroom,
a rural classroom. -Can someone point
to a natural resource in our room, that we’re using. -Meaning the students
are going to be receiving the same type of instruction as their peers who speak English
as their first language. They’re going to be
participating in the same type of activities. They’re going to have
the same expectations. It’s just, how we present
that material to them may look
a little bit different. -At Clark pre-K-through-8 school
on the West Side of Cleveland, about 30% of the students
are English learners. Most speak Spanish
as their first language. -Some of the students have been
born in the United States or in the
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. However, have moved to Cleveland
in recent years. -The school uses
sheltered instruction — the same method used at Thomas Jefferson
International Newcomers Academy. -With sheltered instruction, the goal really is
helping English learners acquire core content
instructed in English, and then to use techniques
that are research-based. For a lot of English learners,
they may come to school without the foundational skills
they need. And it may be that the teacher
has to divide the class into a couple groups,
depending on the level of proficiency of
your second-language learners and their levels
of background knowledge… -What else uses water? -…with one group getting
some extra instruction to build
these foundational skills. One of the things we do is
use PowerPoint slides or give the teacher
a whiteboard, and children are seeing
what the teacher is saying.-“A.”
And that’s in Spanish.
In English,“a”is?Write it. No, you don’t have to
erase that. You’re gonna add it. You’re gonna add it
to the end of the word. -We also give children handouts where we have
what the teacher is saying. The key points are written. -No, you don’t have to cross it. You only cross out the 2
and change it to a 1. -Now I see.
-Now you got it? All right. -And students get plenty of
interaction with each other by working
in cooperative learning groups. -“Each is few –”
-“Found.” -“Found on the book.” -“Bottoms.”
-“Bottoms of pushing…” -Students may receive
additional tutoring, too, in small groups led by
a bilingual paraprofessional who speaks
the students’ home language. -“How might the climate help
to explain why?” So, [ Speaking Spanish ] -We cross out the 2… -A good day at work
at Clark School is to see the children
exit the building with a smile on their face. It’s seeing
that whole child develop, how we’re preparing them
to be successful. -[ Speaking indistinctly ] -When I grow up, I want to be a policeman
so I can stop crime. -When I grow up,
I want to be a lawyer, because I want to help people
that have to go to court. -After school,
maybe I will go to college, but I’m really not sure
what I want to be. There’s a lot of jobs
I really like. -When I grow up,
I want to be a mechanic fixer. [ Up-tempo Latin music plays ] -At Buhrer Dual Language
Academy, near the West Side of Cleveland, mornings start off
with music. But once kids dance away
their excess energy, they settle in
for academic instruction. And at Buhrer,
that comes with a twist. -[ Speaking Spanish ] -This is Ohio’s first
dual-language education program, meaning all students, English learners and
native English speakers alike, receive academic lessons
in two languages. The goal is for all students to become proficient
in both English and Spanish. -It’s essential for our next generation
of students to be bilingual.” -One in five U.S. jobs are tied
to international trade, yet fewer than 20% of Americans
can speak another language. Compare that to 56% of Europeans
and 38% of Britons. -What it comes down to is
knowing various languages so we can tap into
different markets. -About half of the students here
are English learners. and research shows dual-language
programs like this one are sensitive to preserving
the families’ native language while still encouraging
the use of English. -Because it’s not, “No,
you can’t speak that language.” It’s embraced,
and it’s celebrated. What’s the last thing
that happened in this story? As far as proficiency,
we are leading the district. Our students here tend to meet
their growth targets. -[ Speaking Spanish ] -In kindergarten
through second grade, students take language arts
in their dominant language. For math, science,
and social studies, they spend alternate days
learning in both languages. In grades third through fifth, student take language arts
and history in English, and math and science in Spanish. Middle-school students take
a Spanish elective course. -Five, six, seven, eight. -It’s not uncommon
to see kids switching between Spanish and English
with ease. And classes are structured
so that struggles with language don’t hamper a student’s ability
to express academic knowledge. -[ Speaking Spanish ]
-[ Speaking Spanish ] -With language,
we always want to make sure our students feel comfortable with the language
that they’re speaking. So in certain classrooms,
the language should be Spanish. But if the student
isn’t quite there yet, and needs to respond in English, they’re able
to respond in English and then just reinforcing
that sentence in Spanish. -[ Speaking Spanish ] -That moment when
it didn’t feel weird anymore was when my friend
actually asked me a question, I just said it
like if it was nothing. Like, I answered in English like
if it was my first language. -When I got frustrated
learning Spanish or anything, I turned to my friends. We have a Spanish speaker
help an English speaker, and an English speaker
help a Spanish speaker. So it’s all a team effort.
All Buhrer is, is a big family. -[ Speaking Spanish ]
“exact.” [ Speaking Spanish ]
-“Exact.” -The value of being bilingual
is now recognized through a nationwide award
called the Seal of Biliteracy. -[ Speaking Spanish ] -It’s given to students by a school, district, or state
education department, and it becomes part of the student’s
official transcript and diploma. As of July 2017,
Washington, D.C., along with 27 states,
including Ohio, have approved it. -And it’s been wonderful
for these kids. And I think for the country,
too, to recognize the value of being
bilingual and biliterate. -It’s also a cue to colleges
and potential employers who are eager to tap into
bilingual talent. -98,542. When I finish high school
and go to college, I want to try to be a lawyer and then work my way up
to the Supreme Court. -I want to be a lawyer —
a crimes and cases lawyer. -When I grow up,
I want to be an engineer. -Really, after school?
Okay, my plan was to be a cardiothoracic surgeon,
that works with hearts. And I like doing that because,
ever since I was little, I wanted to be a superhero. And that was the closest thing,
to save lives. [ “Pomp and Circumstance”
plays ] [ Applause ] -It makes you wonder what these kids dream of
becoming one day, too, doesn’t it? This is Buhrer’s
kindergarten promotion ceremony. Take a good look
at the class of 2029. [ Cheers and applause ] -Well, on a day like today,
I see — I see pride. I saw them
looking at their children and having pride
in their accomplishments. -From this, the class of 2029… [ Cheers and applause ] …to the graduating class
of 2017. At Thomas Jefferson
International Newcomers Academy, 44 English learners have met all of the state and local
academic requirements to earn high school diplomas. That’s more than twice as many
as last year’s grads. [ Applause ] It’s a testament
to the hard work of the students and to the educators
and researchers who continue to refine methods that teach English language
and academics at the same time. -For the students, I wish
that each and every one of them will graduate from college and that they will
make their families proud. ♪♪ -That pride is already evident. -♪ Oh, oh, oh ♪ ♪ Oh, oh, oh ♪ -Strip away the layers
of cultural differences, and what remains is this — aspiration… ability… and the tendency
for kids everywhere to see a camera and wave… and wave… [Chuckling] and wave. -Children are children. No matter what — no matter
the color of their hair, the color of their eyes, or
the language that they speak — children want the same thing
in life. Parents want the same thing
for their children, no matter what. They all wish to be successful. And it’s our responsibility to make sure
that they can meet those goals. ♪♪ [ Cheers and applause ] -I want to be a mayor because I want to help
the poor people to live a better life. -I want to be in the Army, because I care
for other people’s safety and I love my country. -When I grow up,
I want to be a cosmetologist. -When I grow up,
I want to be an artist. -Film director. -I want to play basketball
when I grow up. -I want to be a teacher. -I want to be a policeman
so I can help people. -When I grow up,
I want to be a photographer, because I see the beauty
in everything and everyone. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -This program was funded
by TRAC Research Group. ♪♪

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