Thursday, April 15, 2010

ESL Roundtable Synopsis

ESL Roundtable
Southern Indiana Education Center
Jasper, IN
April 12, 2010

Participants discussed challenges that they face at their schools.
  1. ELL teachers are searching for quick, easily incorporated modifications that they can recommend for mainstream teachers. Many ELL teachers are finding that mainstream teachers are not modifying / adapting content for ELL students.
  2. Some teachers note that there is a lack of space in the school to work with students.
  3. Grading ELL students is a challenge.  Teachers expressed dissatisfaction with grading scales (U / S) for ELL students.  Participants from one school said that their school no longer uses a grading scale; rather, they use standards. Students are evaluated on their ability to meet individual standards. It seems to be a better fit for their ELL students. Other teachers wondered how to grade with modifications.
  4. Retention is an on-going problem for all schools. Students drop out when they transition from the elementary / middle school to junior / senior high school. Some think that this is linked to feelings of isolation. Others attributed it, in part, to cultural differences.
  5. There is a need for on-going teacher training to reinforce language acquisition theory and ELL education. Mainstream teachers often need to be reminded of what ELL students need.
  6. Support at home is often lacking.
  7. Differentiating between language-related issues and special needs issues is an on-going problem for some schools.
  8. Schools need translation services for documentation going home.


Participants discussed the successes that they have had with their programs and students. Here is a list of accomplishments that participants were particularly proud of:
  1. On-going program development to meet changing needs of students and school.
  2. Grouping LEPs so that scheduling and placement facilitates student and program success.
  3. Partnering with local fire and police departments. Students taught officers Spanish; officers provided community support.
  4. College nights / college club: Meetings offered students information about colleges, food, and fun activities. Students participate in fundraisers to go on trips to visit campuses.)
  5. Improving ILP forms to make them useful documents for mainstream teachers.
  6. Using MClass and RTI with ELL populations to track progress.
  7.  The creation of parent advisory committee to encourage family involvement.
  8. Documents are sent home in Spanish; school’s phone system has outgoing messages in English and Spanish.
  9. A dedicated ESL classroom was established.
  10. A structured, academically-based ESL program that parallels and complements mainstream classrooms was established.
  11. The school runs adult ed in the evenings using Rosetta Stone to provide support for families and build community. The teachers mentioned that students join in when they see how hard their parents are working on learning English.

 Future Goals

Participants discussed items that still remain to be addressed and future goals (both personal and professional).
  1. Establish a Spanish club to encourage students to speak English and to teach both ELL students and Anglo students about their respective cultures.
  2. Create a mentor program for young women to work on retention in the middle and high schools.
  3. Re-learn Spanish to make communicating with students easier.
  4. Find ways to increase parent involvement.


There were a few questions raised during the discussion about the future of ELL funding:
  1. Will there be cuts in Title III funding?
  2. What’s going on with the application forms for the migrant program through IDOE?
o      Indiana Department of Education, English Language Learning & Migrant Education website:
o      Title III Migrant Education Grant Application Process:
o      2010 Migrant Education Program Application:

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