Schools should be prepared for ELLs

Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Poplarville School District recently announced new requirements to ensure there is a plan to support English Language Learners during the next school year.

English Language Learners are students who are actively learning the English language. These students often need additional help since English is not their first language. Because the number of ELL students is slowly increasing across the state, according to a release by the Mississippi Department of Education, having a plan in place to educate these students is important.

When I was studying at William Carey University, I traveled abroad to China for three months where I studied Mandarin, among other things at Linyi University. My Mandarin classes were four hours every morning, from 8 a.m. to noon and were taught by four teachers who each taught us a different part of the language. In my class there were about 20 other students also learning Mandarin. Some were from Korea, some were from Russia and one was from Mexico. The main point, though, is that none of us knew anything about Mandarin.

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On the first day of class that cold February morning, we all filed into the classroom, picked a seat and filled up our thermoses with hot, steaming water.

Our first teacher came in and immediately it was obvious – she knew exactly what she was doing. We weren’t the first class of students she had taught. She wasn’t concerned about how she would teach this unknown language to us. She had confidence and she had a plan.

By the end of my three months at Linyi University, I had learned a lot. I could order food, buy clothes and even haggle over nick-nacks. If those four teachers had been unprepared to teach us a new language, my experience studying overseas would have ended very differently.